• Yokohama


The Sept. 13 front-page article “Noda taps Edano for trade minister” states that former trade minister Yoshio Hachiro stepped down after he “triggered public outrage for calling the area around the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant a ‘town of death.”

I cannot imagine how painfully those words must have hit the ears of those who used to call, what we now know as the exclusion zone, home. I also can’t help wondering whether some of that “outrage” wasn’t manufactured in some political machine.

After all, I don’t remember hearing a single objection in May when the health minister at the time, Ritsuo Hosokawa, used the same expression — “town of death” — to describe an evacuated residential area near Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken No. 1 nuclear power plant. I think he was even lauded by one Diet member for his straight talk about a catastrophe that has reduced so many Fukushima-area towns to ghosts of their former selves.

In fact, at least half a dozen other politicians have used these or similar words over the past six months without generating the controversy that Hachiro did. So, what’s the difference?

Perhaps it is that Hachiro was willing to lend a more sympathetic ear to the nation’s anti-nuclear voices. Following Hachiro’s decision to appoint more anti-nuclear advocates who would add balance to a key nuclear power policy committee, it would seem that this controversy was fueled by fear of a more level-playing field, where alternative viewpoints might have a chance of winning the day.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

j.t. cassidy

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