• Kyodo, Staff Report

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Thousands of Twitter users are posting positive comments about Tohoku using the hashtag #Tohokudeyokatta (“It was good that it was in Tohoku”), playing on the job-ending gaffe of reconstruction minister Masahiro Imamura.

Imamura resigned Wednesday a day after saying “it was good that” the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck the Tohoku region rather than the Tokyo metropolitan area. Imamura later apologized and said he only meant that the reconstruction costs would have been higher had Tokyo been hit.

Many of the Tohoku Twitter posts were accompanied by images of scenery, like sakura (cherry trees) in full bloom, festivals, mountains and historical towns, drawing enthusiastic responses from other users.

The posts initially started out by criticizing Imamura but gradually became more positive in nature, adding images of places like the Sanriku Railway in Iwate Prefecture, a star festival in Sendai and sakura trees in Fukushima Prefecture.

One Twitter user who appears to hail from the region said, “Even after I left my hometown, I will never forget it. I’m glad that I grew up in that town.”

Another wrote, “I’m glad that this hashtag is being used positively.”

A 29-year-old woman in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, posted a picture of a cherry tree, saying that “while the gaffe was controversial, look at this sakura tree powerfully blooming in my yard, with its roots firmly in the ground.”

“I was more astonished than upset” over Imamura’s remark, the woman said in an interview. But she thought it was better to turn it into something positive.

“I didn’t want (people) to forget the beauty of each season in Tohoku, even though it was hit by the disaster,” she said.

Journalist Jun Hori posted a photo of tomatoes growing in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture.

“These fresh tomatoes are beautiful like jewelry and sweet like a fruit. An unforgettable taste,” he tweeted.

“There are many tweets posted under #Tohokudeyokatta. If you’re still looking for a place to visit for the holidays, it may be worth a look,” Twitter Japan’s official account tweeted Wednesday night.

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