• Kyodo, Staff Report


A senior political appointee to the Cabinet Office who visited the typhoon-hit area in Iwate Prefecture earlier this month was carried piggyback-style by a government official because he had failed to bring a pair of rain boots, triggering criticism from all sides.

On Sept. 1, Shunsuke Mutai, a parliamentary secretary for the Cabinet Office, visited the town of Iwaizumi, where nine elderly people at a nursing care facility died. But because he didn’t have rain boots, the government official carried Mutai on his back to avoid puddles of water.

“I am very sorry and am reflecting on my acts,” Mutai said.

He was there as part of a government team inspecting damage from Typhoon Lionrock. The move prompted criticism after a local TV station aired the video.

“It is an act that lacks compassion toward victims of the disaster,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Monday, adding that Mutai had reported the incident to him. “I instructed him to be more vigilant in conducting his duties.”

A central government official who asked not to be named said it was “rude to municipality officials who are working round the clock. He lacked imagination on how it would be perceived by disaster victims.”

Ruling and opposition parties also lashed out at Mutai, a former Fire and Disaster Management Agency bureaucrat in charge of disasters.

On Monday, Diet affairs chiefs of the ruling and opposition parties decided to summon Mutai to a Lower House special committee on disasters to have him explain himself.

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