Indie | This Is the New Japanese Minister in Charge of Recovery and Reconstruction

Posted on July 3, 2011

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Indie | EX-SKF | 3 July 2011 

Naoto Kan, after surviving the vote of no confidence thanks to Hatoyama’s deluded decision to play “kingmaker”, just does as he pleases these days without fear or worry. And that includes appointing this man as the minister in charge of recovery and reconstruction in the Tohoku region.

From Tohoku Broadcasting Company’s news report:

(Announcer): Ryu Matsumoto, newly-appointed Minister in charge of recovery and reconstruction from the March 11 earthquake/tsunami, visited Miyagi Prefecture for the first time since the appointment. When he didn’t see the governor waiting for him in the meeting room, the Minister got angry, and strongly rebuked the governor.

(Announcer): Here’s Minister Ryu Matsumoto visiting the Miyagi prefectural government office. When he did not see Governor Murai in the room waiting for him, his countenance became severe.

(Matsumoto): He [the governor] should be here before me, and that’s the proper way, isn’t it?

(Announcer): A few minutes later, Governor Murai came in smiling, and offered his hand to the Minister for a handshake. The Minister refused. The atmosphere in the room immediately turned tense. After receiving the documents that detailed the requests [from Miyagi Prefecture], Minister Matsumoto told the governor in harsh words.

松本:(水産特区は)県でそれはコンセンサスを得ろよ。そうしないとわれわれ、何にもしないぞ。だからちゃんとやれ。今あとから自分は入ってきたけど、お客さんが来るときは、自分が入ってからお客さんを呼べ。いいか? 長幼の序がわかっている自衛隊ならそんなことやるぞ。わかった? はい。しっかりやれよ。今の最後の言葉はオフレコです。いいですか? 皆さん。いいですか? はい。書いたらもうその社は終わりだから。

(Matsumoto): [Regarding the special fishery zone, which the government is pushing and many local fishermen oppose] Get the consensus. Otherwise we won’t do anything. Just do it. You came in after me, but when you greet a guest, be in here first and call in the guest. Understand? The Self Defense Force would do it because they have the sense of seniority. Got it? Do better than this. [Speaking to the news reporters in the room] Oh my last remark is off the record, understand? Everyone. Understand? If any of you dare write it, that will be end of your company.

(Announcer): This remark by Minister Matsumoto is likely to create a stir.

There is no way to convey the sense of what he said to the governor of Miyagi. Japanese language has several modes of speech from super-vulgar to super-polite. While there are English equivalents in more polite forms of speech, the base language used by him cannot be fully translated without adding extremely rude and vulgar interjections. For example, his first word to the governor would be more like “Get the consensus, you piece of sh-t.”

During the early days of crisis after the March 11 earthquake, Matsumoto, who was (and still is) the Minister in charge of disaster countermeasures, allegedly hid in the Prime Minister’s Residence, shaking in his boots. The initial delay and confusion in delivering aid to the Tohoku area (where he visited on July 3) was due to his panic and indecision. (from Japanese wiki entry)

Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano defended Matsumoto, saying “It was from his strong sense of duty and responsibility that he spoke that way.” (from NHK Japanese)

The governor of Miyagi said “I’m sure Prime Minister Kan has appointed the best person for the job.” (from NHK Japanese) The governor is a graduate of the National Defense Academy, and was an officer in the Self Defense Force before he ran for office.

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