• Kyodo

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The Nagano Prefectural Government has been bombarded with more than 2,000 telephone calls and e-mail messages protesting against the “rudeness” of top officials toward Gov. Yasuo Tanaka, who took office last week.

The flood of phone calls started shortly after television news programs aired the newly elected governor’s visit to a number of the prefecture’s departments on Thursday, his first day in his new job.

During a visit to the business bureau, Tanaka handed his name card to Tokitaka Fujii, the bureau chief. Fujii folded it in half, however, remarking that “the leader should not give his name card to his subordinates. I will take it as (Tanaka’s personal) card, not as the governor’s.”

Fujii folded the card to obscure the part reading “Nagano Governor.”

The prefectural government has received more than 600 calls castigating the bureau chief’s attitude, describing it as “extremely rude to the governor.”

Some of the messages criticized Fujii’s act as “an insult to the governor whom we, the voters, selected” and labeled him “the shame of Nagano Prefecture.”

Complaints were submitted from outside the prefecture, as well as by Nagano residents, officials said, adding that more than 1,200 similar messages were sent to the prefecture’s Web site.

“I just wanted the governor to have pride,” Fujii said, expressing regret over his conduct toward Tanaka.

Tanaka has offered Fujii the opportunity to discuss the matter today.

Takefumi Nakamura, director of the prefectural government’s farm policy division, also received more than 200 telephone calls of protest Thursday after he told a meeting of bureau and division chiefs, “I was really upset about the governor’s remarks during the election campaign, questioning our jobs.”

Tanaka won the Oct. 15 Nagano gubernatorial election, becoming Japan’s youngest serving governor at 44. He outperformed former Vice Gov. Fumitake Ikeda who had been “appointed” as successor to the previous governor, Goro Yoshimura, and two other candidates.

Yoshimura served as governor for five consecutive terms over 20 years before retiring.

“I hope to lead a Nagano Prefectural Government that is crystal-clear and without secrets,” Tanaka said in a victory speech. “Let us make Nagano enter a new era together.”

During his campaign, Tanaka pledged a people-oriented government, promising to open up the governor’s office to residents.

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