Thursday 24 May 2018

Fury in Japan as TV host jokes about effect of nuclear disaster

Alastair Himmer

A FRENCH TV host sparked fury in Japan after showing a mock-up picture of national team goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima with four arms and joked about the "Fukushima effect".

Praising Kawashima's performance in Japan's 1-0 win over France in a soccer friendly last Friday, Laurent Ruquier's wisecrack prompted laughter and applause in the studio.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura called Ruquier's remark, a reference to last year's nuclear crisis in Fukushima, "inappropriate".

He added that the Japanese Embassy in France had sent a letter of protest to the television station France 2.

The letter said the remark "hurts the feelings of people affected by the disaster and hinders efforts for reconstruction," Fujimura added.

The nuclear disaster was triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami in March last year. More than 15,000 people died and almost 3,000 are still unaccounted for.

Japan's education minister Makiko Tanaka, whose portfolio also includes sports, was far from amused.

"If it's true (he said it) it is behaviour which lacks sensitivity," she said. "Many people were hurt in the nuclear crisis. I don't know how people can make fun of it."

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