Ex-PM Kan files libel suit against Abe

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan filed a libel suit Tuesday against incumbent Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, claiming that he was defamed by an e-mail newsletter sent by Abe regarding the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.

In the suit filed with the Tokyo District Court, Kan asked Abe to pay 11 million yen in damages, eliminate the newsletter and offer an apology.

The suit comes amid campaigning for Sunday's House of Councillors election. Kan's Democratic Party of Japan was ousted from government by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in the House of Representatives election last December.

The suit says Abe sent out a newsletter on May 20, 2011, claiming then Prime Minister Kan fabricated a report that he made the courageous decision to pump seawater into Reactor No. 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after it had been crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

In fact, the newsletter said, Kan ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the nuclear plant, to stop the pumping of the seawater.

"Continuing to send wrong information to the people will exert an adverse impact on the election," Kan told a press conference.

"Abe has retained the newsletter on his website while I have repeatedly asked him over the Internet to correct it and make an apology," Kan said.