It’s been 6 years since the 3.11 triple disaster struck Tohoku. Any person who knows this will never forget, and for those who don’t know, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima triggering a huge tsunami wave that destroyed the nuclear reactor’s cooling system causing meltdown at three reactors resulting in 200,000 people being evacuated and over 18,000 people dead or missing, marking one of the most horrendous disasters ever.
Yesterday, Japan’s reconstruction minister Imamura Masahiro did a presentation on the disaster and when asked how much economic damage the 3.11 disaster caused, he very unwittingly said, “まだ東北であっちのほうだったからよかったけど、これが本当、首都圏に近かったりすると莫大な、甚大な被害があった” BBC translated it as, “it was rather good that the north-east of the country was hit, as an earthquake near Tokyo would have caused huge financial damage.”
It was rather good…
Fuck the media.
Granted, it wasn’t the best expression anyone should choose, but look at that statement again. It was clear that he was trying to say “It wasn’t that bad as compared to if it had hit Kanto” or “It could’ve been worse if it had occurred in the Kanto region.” Use of such expression is very common albeit inappropriate in this context and he should at worst be given a warning or suspension. But guess what? The fucked up media does what it does best: make a mountain out of a molehill; blow things out of proportion; sensationalize. They quoted out of context. They said Imamura said, “東北でよかった,” which just means, “Luckily it happened in Tohoku.” They disregarded the “まだ” which completely alters the nuance, and that infuriated a lot of people because how can you say something so insensitive about people who lost their lives and their families? Further, think back on what the question was again: “How much economic damage was there?” His comment on the event occurring in Tohoku was in reference to the amount of economic damage. The opposition did what they always do and jumped on the chance to screw him over by asking him to resign.
If you had looked at the past few years, that was what the opposition had been doing. Catch the government doing shit and compel them to resign. Japan’s ministry and public companies have the highest number of resignations I’ve ever seen. Their solution to everything is to resign. Sounds more like escapism to me, but the society makes it easy for them by chanting unanimously for their resignation.
Despite Imamura’s earlier stance on explaining himself, he later received a memo and apologized for the inappropriate choice of expression and eventually indicated his intention to step down from the position. Do I like this guy? No, I’ve got no particular feelings toward him. I didn’t even know him until this and I feel no particular sadness over his resignation, except for sadness over the way Japanese people handle things like that. And I cringe every time scandals occur in the government not so much because they are public figures but because you then get to see how politicians conduct themselves at the parliament. When someone is talking, there’s almost always heckling going on and heckling disgusts me.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the government is where adults work; not some elementary school class committee. If you’ve got something to say, wait for your turn. If you’ve got reasonable argument, put forth calmly. Don’t scream and shout. Likewise for the media: Be responsible. Don’t go around ruining people’s livelihood.
Luckily these happen in Japan.