Saturday, December 22, 2012

Emperor to Minister of Reconstruction on Disaster Debris Disposal: "It Must Be Difficult with Asbestos..."


(CORRECTION: His Majesty's word on asbestos was to the Minister of Reconstruction, not to the Chief Cabinet Secretary, as was in the original title.)

The emperor of Japan continues to be one of very few people in public positions to express genuine concern over the March 11, 2011 disaster and its aftermath. At the one-year anniversary ceremony on March 11, 2012, the emperor spoke about the radiation contamination in Fukushima in a clear, straightforward, and compassionate manner:

"Further, this disaster [earthquake and tsunami] triggered a nuclear power plant accident. People had to evacuate from areas made dangerous by the nuclear accident, where they had lived and worked for many years. In order for them to go back and live safely there, we have a difficult problem of radiation contamination to overcome."


Sankei Shinbun, which has always covered the imperial family in a positive light, has this bit (last paragraph) from the recent luncheon at the imperial palace (12/22/2012):

天皇陛下と皇太子さまは21日、皇居・宮殿で、野田佳彦首相をはじめとする閣僚らとの午餐(昼食会)に臨まれた。各大臣と副大臣、宮内庁幹部ら約50人が出席した。

His Majesty the Emperor and the Crown Prince attended the luncheon at the Imperial Palace with the cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. 50 people including the ministers, vice ministers and officials from the Imperial Household Agency attended.

招かれた大臣は19人で、全員が出席した。午餐はこの時期恒例のものだが、今回は民主党が直前の衆院選で惨敗したため、城島光力財務相、田中真紀子文科相ら、バッジを失うことになった議員が多数出席するという異例の開催となった。

19 ministers were invited, and all attended. The luncheon is a customary one at this time of the year. However, it was unusual this year because the Democratic Party of Japan just lost heavily in the recent Lower House Election, and many ministers including the finance minister Jojima and the education minister Tanaka lost in the election.

午餐に先立ち、陛下は今年の活動をねぎらった後、「どうか健康を大切にされ、来年がよい年であることを願っております」と述べられた。

Before the luncheon, His Majesty thanked them for their work this year, and said, "I hope you will remain in good health, and your new year will be a good year."

続いて飲み物を持ちながらの懇談となり、陛下は野田首相と数分間話された後、落選した藤村修官房長官のもとへ。「官房長官は忙しかったでしょうね」「健康を大事にしてください」などとねぎらわれた。

Then they spoke intimately over drinks. After speaking for a few minutes with Prime Minister Noda, His Majesty went to Chief Cabinet Minister Osamu Fujimura, who lost in the election, and thanked him for his work. "You must have been busy as Chief Cabinet Minister." "Please take good care of yourself."

平野達男復興相とは、被災地のがれきに含まれる石綿(アスベスト)を話題に。陛下は、石綿は放射能のように機械で測定できないことを挙げ、「(処理は)なかなか難しいんじゃないですか」と話された。さらに、「年をとってから携わった人が後悔しないよう、気をつけないといけませんね」と述べられた。

With Minister of Reconstruction Tatsuo Hirano, asbestos in the disaster debris was the topic. After pointing out that asbestos cannot be [easily] measured like radiation, His Majesty said, "Isn't [the disposal of disaster debris that contains asbestos] rather difficult?" Further, His Majesty said, "We should pay attention so that people involved in the disposal won't regret it after they get old."


In the press conference on December 19 for his birthday (December 23), the emperor continued to express his concern and sympathy for people affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami and nuclear disaster:

(Imperial Household Agency's official translation)

Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all the concern shown me by the people when I underwent heart surgery in February of this year, such as those who came to sign the register books at the Palace and elsewhere during this period. I would also like to thank all the people who continue to wish me well.

A year and nine months has gone by since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the cold, harsh winter is back again in the afflicted areas. There are people who are unable to return to their homes they used to live in because of radioactive contamination, and people who must spend their second winter in temporary housing covered in snow. My heart goes out to all those afflicted. The number of dead or missing at the time of the disaster was reported to be over 18,000, but since then, there have been more than 2,000 disaster-related deaths, bringing the total number of victims to over 20,000. Many who survived the terrible earthquake and tsunami lost their lives because of harsh living conditions where sufficient medical care and other needs could not be provided. I feel this is indeed a tragedy. Recovery and reconstruction efforts in the afflicted areas include radioactive decontamination, removal of possible asbestos-containing debris harmful to health, and other dangerous tasks. Many of these operations pose health risks to those engaged in them, which is of deep concern. The Empress and I observed the radioactive decontamination operation being carried out in the village of Kawauchi in Fukushima Prefecture. The work consisted of climbing onto a roof and hosing away the contamination with water, work requiring great caution and concentration, which could lead to an accident otherwise. I sincerely hope that all operations will be carried out safely.

(In the original Japanese)

今年は2月に心臓の手術を受け,多くの人々に心配を掛けました。誕生日に当たり,当時記帳に訪れてくれた人々を始め,今も私の健康を気遣ってくれている多くの人々に対し,感謝の気持ちを伝えたく思います。

東日本大震災から1年9か月がたち,被災地に再び厳しい冬が巡ってきています。放射能汚染によりかつて住んでいた所に戻れない人々,雪の積もる仮設住宅で2度目の冬を過ごさなければならない人々など,被災者のことが深く案じられます。震災時の死者行方不明者数は1万8千人余と報じられましたが,その後,2千人以上の震災関連の死者が生じたため,犠牲者は2万人を超えました。地震や津波を生き抜いた人々が,厳しい生活環境下,医療などが十分に行き届かない状況の中で亡くなったことは誠にいたわしいことと感じています。また,被災地の復興には放射能汚染の除去や,人体に有害な影響を与える石綿が含まれるがれきの撤去など,危険と向き合った作業が行われなければならず,作業に携わる人々の健康が心配です。放射能汚染の除去の様子は福島県の川内村で見ましたが,屋根に上がって汚染を水流で除去するなど,十分に気を付けないと事故が起こり得る作業のように思いました。安全に作業が進められるよう切に願っています。


Imperial Household Agency translated as if this were a cliche-ridden, politician's speech, with as little "I" as possible. In the original Japanese, it is much more personal; I could interpret that every single sentence is about how he thinks and feels. When he says "Many who survived the terrible earthquake and tsunami lost their lives because of harsh living conditions where sufficient medical care and other needs could not be provided", it is a harsh criticism of what the government did (rather, did not do) after the disaster. Not to mention describing decontamination and disaster debris disposal as "dangerous".

6 comments:

Atomfritz said...

Akihito for president!

Vyse Legendaire said...

Maybe it won't be so bad now if the constitutional amendment about making the emperor a true head of state won't be so bad now, eh? We dethroned the emperor and the kings only to usurp their unilateral control with a hive mind of sycophantic psychopaths...

TechDud said...

I'm not even Japanese, and I love His Majesty for his candor and honesty!

Anonymous said...

Hello, admin,
I share your respect of the man, (political / social status is another thing, not of my matter as I'm not Japanese). I read 95 % of Shimane Pref. voted Jiminto. As if there was no other problem in Japan than their own under-development, no 2 x GDP debt, no Fukushima people to help and no Fuku disaster to pay the price of, as if they would had been good, (if only this and that...) at making some wealth and some jobs for the generation to come into age of working. Dark side, dark side all around...

Anonymous said...

German Atombaby never misses an opportunity to shit in the comments, ney, old fart ? Even about the Japanese Emperor. Try and control your sphincters when you post.

Anonymous said...

Just don't forget they profited off of the nuclear industry. I care not for "care" and "concern" from authority. It doesn't make me warm and fuzzy, sorry. These people/system was in power when the plant blew up so they clearly don't really care. It's easy to turn a blind eye when you get so much political and economic power from the nastiest industry in human history. At least the old gangs in the US didn't contaminate the entire global biosphere, governments on the other hand did and continue to do so. So basically, fuck authority and their "care." Those "elite" families, politicians, and businessmen are the ones responsible for so much murder and genocide. Well, they won't have much authority left soon seeing as they are doing such a great job with Japan's financial system. (Not saying U.S. or Europe are better as they aren't, but Japan will probably be the first to not be able to run and hide from the debt any longer.)

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