Japanese minister quits over offensive comment on 2011 quake

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Tokyo, April 26 (IANS) Japanese Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura resigned on Wednesday and was immediately replaced, one day after he made an offensive comment about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a media report said.

Imamura, 70, said at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democrat Party (PLD) on Tuesday that it was fortunate that the disaster on March 11, 2011 struck the northeast of the country instead of Tokyo, Efe news reported.

During his speech, the Minister said that it was estimated that the disaster has caused losses in social infrastructure worth $226 billion.

He called that a limited impact that would have been much worse if the area of Japan’s capital had been affected, according to local media at the meeting.

Imamura retracted his words shortly after his speech, but even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was prompted to apologise, saying he considered the comment “extremely inappropriate” and “painful” for those affected by the disaster.

The new Minister of Reconstruction will be Masayoshi Yoshino, a native of Fukushima Prefecture and former Minister of Environment, according to Kyodo news agency.

The ministry was created in 2011 to deal with the reconstruction of the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as well as to address issues related to the nuclear accident in Fukushima.

–IANS

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