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Government aide quits over N-crisis

Criticism of the Japanese government's handling of the radiation crisis at a nuclear power plant has increased after an adviser quit in protest over what he claimed were unsafe, slipshod measures.

Toshiso Kosako, a professor at the University of Tokyo's graduate school and an expert on radiation exposure, announced that he was stepping down as a government adviser.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan appointed Prof Kosako after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami which struck north-eastern Japan on March 11.

The disaster left 26,000 people dead or missing and damaged several reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant - triggering the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

In a tearful news conference, Prof Kosako said he could not stay and allow the government to set what he called improper radiation limits of 20 millisieverts an hour for elementary schools in areas near the plant.

"I cannot allow this as a scholar," he said. "I feel the government response has been merely to bide time."

Prof Kosako also criticised the government as lacking in transparency in disclosing monitoring of radiation levels around the plant, and as improperly raising the limit of radiation exposure levels for workers at Fukushima Dai-ichi, according to the Kyodo News agency.

The prime minister defended the government's response as proper.

"We welcome different views among our advisers," Mr Kan told parliament in response to an opposition politician's questions.

A government advisory position is highly respected in Japan, and it is extremely rare for an academic to resign in protest of a government position.

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