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Japanese Minister in Shameful Comment about Tohoku: Tsunami, Nuclear Crisis, Tokyo Centric
By Sawako Utsumi
Tokyo Correspondent
Masahiro Imamura, a Cabinet Minister in the government of Shinzo Abe, made a disgraceful comment about the Tohoku region. He implied, openly, despite later squirming, that “it was rather good” that the Tohoku region was hit rather than Tokyo. This was based on his concern about financial damage and not the vast numbers of people who perished because of the brutal tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, after a brutal earthquake hit this nation.

Equally disturbing, Imamura said this in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and this makes you wonder about the planning of his comments. Imamura brazenly tried to cover up his enormous error of judgment but he had already let the cat out of the bag.

Unbelievably, the minister put in charge of reconstructing the Tohoku region is Imamura. This once more highlights how some political elites in Tokyo neglect and ill consider fellow citizens in other parts of Japan. For example, Okinawa pays a distorted price in percentage terms of American forces being based in this part of Japan. Similarly, northern Japan needs a free hand in its trade with the Russian Federation rather than political restraints coming from the Tokyo-centric government of Japan.

Not surprisingly, the shocking comment made by Imamura was stated in Tokyo and this says much about the reconstruction of the Tohoku region. For example, the endless shenanigans surrounding the nuclear facility in Fukushima still needs resolving. However, it is difficult to believe that such ineptitude would have happened if this nuclear facility had been located in the environs of Tokyo.

Imamura openly stated “it was rather good” that the brutal earthquake and tsunami had hit the region of Tohoku rather than “somewhere near the Tokyo area.”

Even when Imamura tried to cover his tracks – clearly too late in the day – he still blundered because his emphasis was on economic finance and not the vast numbers of people who perished.

It is abundantly clear that the people of Okinawa are shouldering the military burden of American forces to an unfair ratio and that the Tokyo-centric government cares little apart from “empty statements” made by successive governments. Likewise, many business and political leaders in the Kansai region would like greater clout in transforming such a vibrant and diverse region. Also, similar murmurings exist in other parts of Japan that should be increasing trade with China, the Russian Federation, South Korea, and Taiwan respectively based on geographic factors. Hence, the utter contempt being shown by Imamura towards the people of Tohoku further highlights the Tokyo-centric nature of this nation.

Not only should Imamura be forced to resign his position but also the party he belongs to must question his ineptitude. After all, does the ruling party really need individuals like this within the political system?

The above story was written by Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker.

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Sawako Utsumi serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. She specializes in art, culture, and Japan politics. Her background is in pharmacy and also a professional contemporary artist. Her website is at






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