Japan's New Reconstruction Minister Resigns After One Week

Ryu Matsumoto was prone to gaffes and ignorance of local geography

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After a series of gaffes, Japan's Minister of Disaster Reconstruction, Ryu Matsumoto, offered his resignation on Tuesday after only one week on a job. His position, as The Wall Street Journal reported, was to "lead a task force focused on rebuilding regions directly affected by the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis."

But, as The New York Times describes, Matsumoto "angered local governors by confessing his ignorance of local geography, and then show[ed] irritation when one local governor made him wait in a reception room." The irritation incident (video here), was recounted by The Guardian this way:

Matsumoto came under pressure to quit after a TV station broadcast footage of a testy meeting on Sunday with Yoshihiro Murai, the governor of tsunami-hit Miyagi prefecture. After Murai arrived a few minutes late, Matsumoto, in a passable impression of a hectoring schoolmaster, said: "When a guest comes to visit, do not call the guest in until you have arrived in the room. Do you understand?"

....Matsumoto effectively sealed his fate when he warned Murai that the government would do nothing to help the region unless local leaders arrived at a consensus over post-disaster reconstruction.

Perhaps sensing the mood had turned against him, Matsumoto quipped to reporters in the room: "That was all off the record, OK? Understand? You write this up, and it'll be the end for your company." Unfortunately for Matsumoto, the journalists simply ignored him.

The minister resigned shortly after the criticism, which was described by multiple outlets as a "a fresh political blow to [the already embattled] Prime Minister Naoto Kan," as CNN put it. Senior Vice Minister Tatsuo Hirano was appointed to take the Reconstruction Minister position after Matsumoto resigned.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.