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):


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.


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.


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."


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."


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)



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".


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.)

Post a Comment