The alleged remark by Japan's Prime Minister Kan that "the evacuation zone will be uninhabitable for a while; 10, maybe 20 years" wasn't complete.
The remark, which the PM allegedly said in the private meeting with one of his "celebrity" advisors Kenichi Matsumoto of Reitaku University and which Professor Matsumoto himself later attributed to himself, not Prime Minister Kan, has been roundly criticized by the opposition as well as by some in the ruling coalition, not to mention the municipalities in the evacuation zone and in the newly designated "planned evacuation zone".
However, the remark actually continued to include the following (from Yahoo Japan news quoting Yomiuri):
"For such displaced people, we have to consider building "ecotowns" inland."
Professor Matsumoto, whose undergraduate degree was in economics and graduate degree in Japanese literature, later retracted his initial statement that Prime Minister had said this; he know says PM Kan expressed agreement with HIS assessment that the evacuation zone would be uninhabitable for 10, 20 years and HIS recommendation that people from the zone should be relocated to inland "ecotowns".
What the hell is "ecotowns"? It's a brilliant idea concocted first, I think, in the UK to create new, government-sponsored towns that will be the example of "sustainable living" to combat "global warming". And the Japanese, strangely enamored with English words, didn't bother to translate the word and use it as is, "e-ko-ta-u-n". (I'm afraid the older Japanese have no idea what it is.)
This PM and his advisor think people will follow them into inland "ecotowns", no doubt named like "Ecotown Iitate" or "Ecotown Namie", some of which will be built by shaving off the hills and mountains.
In the Prime Minister's own words during April 1 press conference (translation by the Prime Minister's Office):
"We must then begin preparations toward reconstruction. In fact, we will go beyond mere reconstruction, creating an even better Tohoku and even better Japan. We are moving forward with the creation of a reconstruction plan that has this big dream at its core. I have received many opinions over the telephone from the mayors of each city, town and village in the disaster-stricken area. These opinions will be incorporated into the plan; for instance, in some areas we will level parts of mountains in order to create plateaus for people to live on. Those residing in the area will then commute to the shoreline if they work in ports or the fisheries industry. We will create eco-towns, places which use biomass and plant-based fuel to provide natural heating. We will outfit cities with infrastructure to support the elderly. We aim to create new kinds of towns that will become models for the rest of the world."
For him, that's "an even better Tohoku". Tell that to the 102-year-old man who didn't want to leave his home in Iitate-mura.
For the Japanese government, the earthquake/tsunami of March 11 is nothing but another grand opportunity of dole out more pork to the construction industry. Sparkling new cities on top of the hills and mountains built by the big general contractors, whether people want to live there or not.
(That's gotta be bullish for the Japanese stock market.)
And people who say they are incensed by Kan's (or Matsumoto's) remark about the evacuation zone to remain uninhabitable for 10, 20 years are not saying anything (except for many bloggers) about his other idea of shaving hills and mountains and building "ecotowns" for sustainable living.
Either the idea is too stupid even to get angry at, or they are waiting to hear more about this new opportunity. Big constructions provide jobs and other goodies like joint venture opportunities and palm-greasing. Dig the ditch, bury the ditch.