Reconstruction official canned, blasted for tweets

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Disaster victims and Diet lawmakers vented their outrage Friday over disparaging comments by a senior Reconstruction Agency official via his Twitter account that got him the sack.

Yasuhisa Mizuno, 45, who had been in charge of helping Fukushima residents affected by the March 2011 nuclear meltdowns, sent out offending tweets about citizens’ groups in the prefecture and Diet members. He was removed from the post Thursday.

“This incident obviously casts doubt on his qualifications, but there is a bigger issue” at stake, Social Democratic Party policy chief Tadatomo Yoshida told a special gathering at which lawmakers called three agency officials to explain the fiasco.

“The first thing I thought was that the Reconstruction Agency’s culture is what enabled Mizuno to feel he could post such comments,” Yoshida said.

Mizuno in March attended a gathering held by a citizens’ group on the potentially harmful health effects from the radioactive fallout spewed by the Fukushima No. 1 plant’s crippled reactors.

He later tweeted that those present were “sh-thead leftists” and that he “just felt pity for their lack of intelligence.”

One agency official said it had been unaware that Mizuno was using Twitter. “We need to further investigate what he was tweeting, but overall his comments were inappropriate as a senior official at the agency,” the official conceded.

Katsumi Hasegawa, an evacuee from Fukushima who visited the agency in November to request quicker support for disaster victims, said the incident has shattered his trust in the entity.

“We submitted a petition to Mizuno and met with the reconstruction minister, who assured us that Mizuno was doing his best and taking care of the details,” Hasegawa said.