Saturday, September 3, 2011

Future Challenge for Yokohama City Mayor: Bring Back Foreign Tourists

Mayor of Yokohama City Fumiko Hayashi has an illustrious career. Armed only with a high school diploma, she became the CEO of one of Japan's biggest supermarket chains (Daiei) after selling BMWs as the president of BMW Tokyo.

Her motto as the mayor - "Sympathy and trust in government".

She didn't count on having a major nuclear accident on her second year in office, but here it is, and what has her city administration done to deal with the crisis?

Tokyo Shinbun conducted the exclusive interview with the mayor and reported on August 31 in its Kanagawa local version:

横浜市長に就任してから、2年を経過した林文子市長(65)が本紙のインタビューに応じた。原発事故による市の放射線をめぐる対応について「横浜は安全だと発信してきた。最善でやっていると思う」と指摘。市庁舎の建設問題には「区役所の整備が優先」との考えを示した。 (聞き手・荒井六貴)

Mayor Fumiko Hayashi (age 65) has agreed to speak with the paper on the 2-year anniversary of her mayorship in Yokohama City. About the city's response to radiation issues arising from the nuclear plant accident, "We have appealed safety for Yokohama. I think we've done our best". About the construction of the new city hall building, she thinks "Upgrade of the Ward Offices should have the priority".


- What have you achieved in the two years in office?


37% reduction of the number of children on the waiting list at the city-approved nursery schools has been achieved. Telephone consultation for obstetrics and the 24-hour hot-line for emergency pediatrics have been set up, resulting in substantial improvement in medical environment. I hope city residents are pleased.


- Beef from cows that had been fed with contaminated feed was served in elementary school lunches. Some criticize the city for being "behind the curve" on the problem.


I don't think so. What we feared most was the spread of vague fear of radiation. We thought it necessary to spread the correct information and knowledge, and we focused on that. Excessive reaction would cause anxiety among city residents. We have to avoid "baseless rumors".


- About the construction of the new city hall?


The city hall is is 50-year-old and deteriorating. Rooms are too small, and departments are housed in different private buildings leading to a lower quality of service for the residents. We absolutely must have the new city hall. Our goal is to come up with the base plan by the fiscal 2013. However, the priority should go to the earthquake retrofit of the Special Ward Offices. During the earthquake of March 11, there were some Ward Offices whose service was interrupted because of fallen bookshelves.


- What are the challenges?


Because of the baseless rumors (of the nuclear plant accident), the number of (foreign) tourists to Yokohama has dropped dramatically. We want them back. Yokohama is full of tourism resources but they are not fully utilized. Yokohama hasn't yet been fully developed as tourist destination. I would like to increase the contents of various arts.

Her idea of correct information about radioactive beef served in schools was to repeat over and over again that she firmly believed it was safe because "it was sold in the market". When the news of potentially contaminated cows reached her, she apparently said "it's only the surface, and inside (meat) is OK". After the cesium beef was actually discovered, the usual "no health effect" mantra was repeated.

In addition to the big construction project (City Hall), she is also doing a small "upgrade" of her official residence, to the tune of $220,000, paid for by Yokohama residents.

It would never occur to her (as it hasn't to most of the country) that the best way to have foreign tourists back again is to deal with radiation and radiation contamination issues openly, with numbers. No one would be willing to risk their health no matter how people like her scream "It's safe, it is below the national provisional safety limit, no effect on health, if you worry you'll get radiation disease".

In Mayor Hayashi's case, if Yokohama has a lively art scene, foreign tourists will flock to the city.

(Well, young Chinese couples may still come, thinking they would conceive boys. )

A fish rots from the head, and the head is still very important in a place like Japan where many ordinary people still look up to the top for leadership, wisdom, knowledge, or whatever virtue they think the "leaders" possess.


Anonymous said...

Well, yes indeed, politics as usual. Here is an interesting documentary film that does show how politics formed culture and that Japan is not really a consensus culture but just appears that way. You either put up with the oppression or are shunned. You will eat the beef, you will eat the beef, you...

FigNewton said...

Hard hitting journalism there. What a joke.

Good to see fixing those broken bookshelves by 2013 is on top of her priority list. While taking actual steps to avoid feeding Yokohama's children cesium tainted food is not. Well done. For the sake of Yokohama's citizens, I hope she doesn't last as 'mayor'.

Yokohama Yokoso! Children eat Cesium Beef for free!

Anonymous said...

The reporter interviewing her is a fucking pussy, why didnt he challenge her on the crap she spouted about radioactive beef?... the usual baseless rumours chat... the reporter moved straight to next question ... a 10 year old kid could do a better interview.

Anonymous said...

Ex-SKF, did you saw the movie "Into Eternity"? It is a documentary about a nuclear waste depository in Finland, carved under 500m of rock, extending by a 5km tunnel, being made to last 100 000 years.

It deals philosophically with our main legacy for the future generations: nuclear waste. Plutonium will last longer than civilization ever existed until now, endangering our descendants.

I remembered this movie when I read this interview; how could someone - specially in a position of power - threat their own descendants? Is there any future for a country that poisons their land and children? Why are the japanese allowing the government to slowly kill themselves?

How will the demise of the japanese people be told, in a distant future? As a historical fact, or as some kind of legend? Will mankind learn this lesson or not? Do we need to kill half of the planet to ban nuclear power?

Anonymous said...

You generally don't get a job in the MSM unless you are a puss'd out sycophant of the people you report on. The days of a "Watergate" styled investigative journalism are dead, corporations learned decades ago to buy up major interest in various media outlets so they could control the news and form their own reality. Newsroom budgets have been slashed by their corporate owners by design so that news organizations are forced to used slick PR segments produced by the very companies they are supposed to be reporting on in between the fluff. This media control extends to politicians, the media can make or break you so all the puppets do as they are told. This means softball question and fluff pieces for people willing to play the game and little or no coverage of people who won't.

The lack of coverage can be seen in protest at events like the various G-20 summits. You never see in depth interviews with the protesters to understand their position nor does the news do much to educate viewers as to what the G-20 is up to. The bulk of stories you see show cops arresting a few trouble makers or they film a few black limos driving through a private entrance. You can be sure if the G-20 was meeting to discuss breaking up media empires the MSM would be investigating everyone with a fine toothed comb.

Anonymous said...

Look at this stupid old hag. All she can do is repeat what she is told to say. Not an original thought in her mind. She is a disgrace to her nation as are all the other politicians who cannot do anything to save their nation from this horror. I am ashamed of my Japanese heritage.

Good luck getting people to come back to Yokohama. I left Japan and will likely never go back again as it has been, in my mind, destroyed forever. Absolute f*cking idiots running the country.

Anonymous said...

This woman is honest and trustworthy. Now THAT would be a BASELESS RUMOUR!
All of these politicians claiming all the food is fine can convince everyone in a single act; eat fuku veggies & meat, lightly sprinkled with the new salt substitute plutonium on live TV.
They could bolster the public's confidence further by only buying fuku food and serving it to all city hall employees, then have a nice big photo shoot with politicians joining the shouting, "No immediate health effects!"
As for the weak interviewing technique, no serious journalist would get an interview with these poor examples of human beings. Highly scripted questions from press club "journalists" only.

Anonymous said...

You KNOW she (nor her family) is not eating domestically produced food. I am sure that none of the higher level government people are. Disgusting cowards.

Anonymous said...

In the shops recently I have noticed cucumbers are from Fukushima. I check the labels of all fresh produce and meat. Because we know from looking at the various maps that about two thirds of Fukushima is contaminated above safe levels, and that the corners of Tochigi and Yamagata, as well as the northern area of Ibaraki are also no good, I don't buy from those prefectures. That is only the tip of the iceberg lettuce, but at least it is a place to start. Basically, anything with those labels on them you are taking a risk since you don't know which part of the prefecture the food comes from (the western part of Fukushima may not be so bad).

As for politicians and journalists, it is all a rigged game in Japan as elsewhere. Do the commenters on this list who are from North America think Canaduh and UAssA are any different? The US congress sends 51 of their representatives to Israel on a junket at tax payer money so Israel can indoctrinate them how they should carry out Israel's wars for her at US blood and tax payer expense.

The Death of American Democracy

Anonymous said...

Oops, obviously I forgot to include the lower part of Miyagi prefecture which is very iffy, and given they produce alot of food that is a worry. Yamagata does not seem to show up much in markets and really is not heavily contaminated like the other areas.

Of course as someone once noted recently, the radiation could be spreading via the wind and rivers outwards.

What a mess and worst of all the government is not behaving in a sane manner, they are just a bunch of corrupt bumpkins.

Oh, this is a good article too on the new US stooge Prime Beef Minister of Japan:

Yoshihiko Noda and the Futenma Air Base - Another Washington Pawn in Tokyo

Japan has a new prime minister: Yoshihiko Noda. The sixth Japanese PM in five years, Noda will also serve as the third consecutive PM from the Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ, the so-called “liberal” party. Noda gains his title after a party runoff following the resignation of former prime minister Naoto Kan. Western media outlets, in their profiles of Noda, have focused almost exclusively on Noda’s fiscal policies or personal upbringing while avoiding what is a more pressing issue: Japan’s oppressive treatment of Okinawans at the behest of the imperial Obama administration.

Anonymous said...

If she wants to get foreign tourists back, she's going to have to think like a foreigner instead of a dumbass Japanese politician. Any foreigners you know taken a holiday in Chernobyl the last 26 years?
Lets hope she is still alive when her grandkids and constituents are having thyroid ops.

Yokohama WAS foreigners favourite city in Japan. If they had ring fenced their city and done all they could to save it from harmful radiation foods,rejected cesium beef for their kids school lunches (Yokohama had NEVER bought Fukushima beef berore-they did so because it was 50% off) etc etc instead of try and cover it up and sweep it all under the carpet, then they would have had a chance of reviving their tourism. As it stands they are complicit in the lies of their Tokyo and Tepco paymasters and they will now suffer the consequences.
This is what happens when a career muppet becomes elected as Mayor.

Yokohama, RIP.

Anonymous said...

''What we feared most was the spread of vague fear of radiation. We thought it necessary to spread the correct information and knowledge, and we focused on that. Excessive reaction would cause anxiety among city residents. We have to avoid "baseless rumors". ''

Well you can suck it all up, sweetheart because the 'baseless rumours' were true and you have been feeding your little children poison. If I was a parent there I would be happy to send you for treason and genocide.
Hope your shelves are looking good. Stupid bitch.
Don't worry about the city hall, you wont be needing it in the future.

Atomfritz said...

In fact, Chernobyl forbidden zone is sort of tourist magnet.
At least for a fringe group of thrill-seeking people.

They are usually well prepared with geiger counters and love sweeping thru the lost city of Pripyat, the abandoned villages and the landscape, only meeting other adventurers, researchers, scavengers and occasionally one of the few elderly people who didn't want to leave the land of their ancestry.

For these people even guided tours on the NPP area are offered, as spot radiation there is still too high to allow anybody to walk around freely.

To be honest, I'd love to travel to Japan if they start offering Fukushima Nuclear tourism.

I want to see the monstrous installation!
I want to join a guided tour, equipped with video cameras that record radiation in the video like others record date/time.
I expect to see and film many attractions.

My dream tour could look like:
First visiting the bubbling and steaming well in reactor 2 (?) building and sense the excitation that high radiation like its 2 sievert field causes.

There the saturation levels of the tourists' geiger counters can also be tested, just not to be fooled when the counter stops beeping.

Then I'd love to make a sightseeing tour onto the roofs, respective top floors of all four units.
The view will be great to film, even when foggy.

After this SFP touring, I'd love to go on to a basement tour. The pools there will be more impressing than evey holy water pool in any other cathedral! I want to see this!

Then the touring should continue with the water storage and treatment buildings/plants. If I am lucky, maybe I can watch Tepco workers fix some things, or even a spill accident causing activity like an ant pile being stirred up?

Finally there should be a bus tour showing all the 10+ sievert spots on the area, ending with a walk from the famous cesium-rusted chimney to the bay, the last step of the tour to take a romantic break.

After that the tourists are being travelled back, introducing them to whole-body counters before driving back to the hotel through a romantic abandoned "forbidden zone"

But I'd recommend to book a guest room at the home of some of those brave people who refuse to leave the forbidden zone. This would make an ultimate unforgettable vacstion! Just do not forget a box of backup counters!

I crave for a Fukushima vacation! Yes!

Anonymous said...

I had always wanted to visit Japan. Couldn't pay me enough to go there now.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing the amount of control that someone has over politicians these days. The pols always spew the same taking points (Baseless rumor,No health effect, etc.) in a bizarre lock step with one another.

It's not just confined to Japan-the same thing occurs in the U.S., just with different talking points.

Anonymous said...

ANON September 4, 2011 1:51 AM:

While unpleasant, most thyroid cancers can be removed with surgery and are treatable. I should know, I had thyroid cancer 14 years ago. Just have to take thyroid hormone replacement.

What's more worrying is the cancers caused by cesium, plutonium, other nasty Fukushima fallout that we are yet to learn of.

Sadly, leukemia will probably be on the rise in Japan for years to come.

Anonymous said...

Not only Leukaemia as well as other types of cancers will increase in the upcoming decades.

But the most horrifying will be the increase in birth defects, not only within the next few years, but once the kids who are fed all the contaminated food at the moment will have their little babies. Just check out

It actually does not matter if the overall rate of cancer and birth defects 'just' increases by only a percent or so. Each additional case will cause tremendous pain and suffering for innocent people.

The biggest price for the arrogance of our generation will be paid by our descendants.

Anonymous said...

fucking bitch!!!!!! that mayor should dieeeeee

pat said...


who wants to be a walking radiation experiment

Anonymous said...

Anybody watch the movie Kung Fu Hustle? Remember the landlord lady in her housecoat with the dangling cigarette and hair curlers. Remember how she slaps Sing silly with her shoe. Well I got a hankering to do the same to Ms. Smug Yokohama Major after reading her interview. Sympathy and trust in government my ass! (slap with shoe) You did your best my ass! (slap with shoe) Priority for upgrade of ward offices my ass! (slap with shoe) What you feared most was the spread of vague fear of radiation my ass! (slap with shoe) You thought it necessary to spread the correct information and knowledge, and focused on that my ass! (slap with shoe) Excessive reaction would cause anxiety among city residents my ass! (slap with shoe) You have to avoid "baseless rumors" my ass! (double slap with shoe) You absolutely must have the new city hall my ass! (slap with shoe) Priority should go to the earthquake retrofit of the Special Ward Offices my ass! (slap with shoe) Because of the baseless rumors (of the nuclear plant accident), the number of (foreign) tourists to Yokohama has dropped dramatically my ass! (slap with shoe) Yokohama is full of tourism resources but they are not fully utilized my ass! (slap with shoe) You would like to increase the contents of various arts my ass! (slap with shoe) Okay, my mind's hand is getting tired now.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:54
Thanks for the visuals. I enjoyed imagining that.

Anonymous said...

Definite increase in Japanese arriving to Florida.

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