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Will Mizuno get in trouble?

June 14, 2013


Editorial: Official's tweets damage trust in disaster reconstruction efforts




A senior Reconstruction Agency official's tweets slandering legislators and a nongovernmental organization (NGO) supporting victims of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster have damaged the public's confidence in the government's reconstruction efforts.

Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto apologized for the incident during a Diet session and removed the official, 45-year-old Yasuhisa Mizuno, from his post in charge of supporting Fukushima disaster victims. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should take prompt action to restore the public's trust in its reconstruction efforts.

Mizuno, a top-level bureaucrat at the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, was loaned to the Reconstruction Agency in August 2012. He was tasked with working out a basic policy to support the livelihoods of children and other victims of the Fukushima nuclear crisis under legislation enacted about a year ago.

Bureaucrats should be allowed to dispatch messages to the public on their private Twitter accounts, but it goes without saying that they must be responsible for the content of their tweets. Article 99 of the National Public Service Act stipulates that officials of the central government must not damage the trust in their positions or take any action that disgraces the entire bureaucracy.

Nevertheless, it has recently come to light that Mizuno slandered legislators and an NGO supporting reconstruction efforts on his private Twitter account, identifying himself as a national public servant.

After attending a rally organized by a citizens group, he tweeted, "I attended a meeting where I was intensely jeered by left-wing s---s."

Furthermore, he tweeted that an outstanding issue had been "resolved" when officials decided to leave it ambiguous, implying that he hailed procrastination on the issue.

The tweets are clearly condescending and lack a sense of responsibility for implementing measures to support the livelihoods of Fukushima victims.

The Reconstruction Agency, which says it will consider punishing Mizuno, should deal strictly with the matter. It should also examine whether his actions obstructed the performance of the agency's duties.

The government has already come under pressure to respond to revelations that a portion of public funds allocated to local governments affected by the disasters for reconstruction efforts was used outside the disaster areas.

The government tightened regulations on the use of state funds earmarked for disaster recovery following the revelations of misuse. However, it has been unable to check the use of funds provided to local bodies that are not under state control. Although the disaster recovery funding system was created by the previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan, the Abe administration must monitor how the money is being used. The national government should promptly take concrete measures to address the misuse, such as freezing the allocation of remaining reconstruction funds.

Most government officials assigned to help restore areas affected by the disasters and support victims' livelihoods are working earnestly and enthusiastically. However, the public's trust in their efforts could be lost in an instant as a result of just one senior official's damaging words and deeds and the national government's insensitivity to the use of taxpayers' money.

To restore the public's confidence, the government has no choice but to demonstrate to society that it is steadily and patiently working on tasks to restore disaster-hit areas and support victims' livelihoods.



June 13, 2013    


Reconstruction official insults citizens groups, Diet members on Twitter




A Reconstruction Agency official in charge of supporting those affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster called a citizens group "stupid leftists" and slandered Diet members on his Twitter account.

Yasuhisa Mizuno, 45, a counselor, has admitted in the agency's questioning that he posted the comments. The agency plans to impose disciplinary measures against him shortly.

Mizuno, who is on the fast-track career course of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, was dispatched to the agency on loan in August 2012 after serving as vice mayor of Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture.

As a person in charge of the law to support children and other people affected by the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, he has often made business trips to Fukushima Prefecture.

In his Twitter account, he called himself a "central government employee." After taking part in a gathering held by a citizens group, he tweeted, "I attended a gathering in which I was repeatedly abused by stupid leftists."

Mizuno also criticized lawmakers who did not submit notices for questions they want to ask in the Diet as required.

"Because a party for workers is not submitting its notices, many (government) employees are now working late-night overtime," he tweeted.

Initially, he posted comments under his own name, but after being dispatched to the Reconstruction Agency, he began to post anonymously.

According to the agency, its employees' use of Twitter is not restricted.

Referring to Mizuno's tweets, Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto said in the Lower House special committee on reconstruction on June 13: "If it is true, they are inappropriate remarks for a central government employee to make. If the tweets offended the people concerned, I want to apologize to them openly."

He added: "I am now confirming the facts of the matter. Based on the results, I intend to take appropriate (disciplinary) measures against him."





  Reconstruction Agency official's tweets slander NGO, lawmakers supporting Fukushima victims





A senior Reconstruction Agency official in charge of supporting Fukushima nuclear disaster victims has slandered lawmakers and an NGO on his private Twitter account in connection with their recovery efforts, prompting the agency to mull punishing him, it has been learned.

Yasuhisa Mizuno, 45, a counselor at the Reconstruction Agency, repeatedly tweeted defamatory comments on parties and issues related to his duties, calling attendants of an NGO-sponsored meeting "left-wing s---s" and hailing the procrastination of a pending issue as a "settlement."

Alerted that his tweets could raise doubts about the government's disaster recovery efforts, the Reconstruction Agency started questioning Mizuno and is mulling punishment against him, saying, "We will make a proper response based on the results confirmed." His anonymous Twitter account, in which he identified himself as a "national public servant," has since been deleted. He had earlier identified his name on the account until October last year and had tweeted at least some 600 times since assuming his current post.

During a session of the House of Representatives special committee on reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake on June 13, Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto bowed in apology over Mizuno's tweets, saying, "If he really made those statements, they were inappropriate as a national public servant. I'd like to deeply apologize to the concerned parties," adding that the minister will respond to the issue properly based on the results confirmed.

Takayuki Kobayashi, a lower house member of the Liberal Democratic Party, said, "People who lost so many precious things to the quake disaster have been striving to get their lives going, and his tweets are extremely disrespectful of those who have been working so hard to support them. I urge strict responses to be taken."

Mizuno is a career bureaucrat at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, who formerly served as deputy mayor of the Chiba Prefecture city of Funabashi. He has been on loan to the Reconstruction Agency since August last year, where he is in charge of assisting nuclear disaster victims in Fukushima Prefecture. Some 150,000 residents of the prefecture are still living as evacuees after more than two years since the onset of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant crisis.

Mizuno is specifically in charge of putting together a basic policy on concrete support measures based on the Act on the Protection and Support for the Children and other Victims of the TEPCO Disaster, which was enacted in June last year at the initiative of a group of suprapartisan lawmakers.

On March 7, Mizuno attended a meeting organized by a citizens group at the Members' Office Building of the House of Representatives and explained the progress of the basic policy compilation as a responsible official at the Reconstruction Agency. Later that day, he tweeted, "I attended a meeting where I was intensely jeered by left-wing s---s."

On March 8, he tweeted, "One of the pending issues was resolved today. To be precise, the concerned parties agreed to leave the matter ambiguous, without determining black or white" -- with the apparent implication that he hailed the procrastination of the issue.

The compilation of the basic policy has been delayed even though a year has passed since the enactment of the disaster support act, due in part to a delay in determining the standards for radiation doses in areas subject to support measures.

On March 15, Reconstruction Minister Nemoto announced a package of support measures for disaster victims based on the law, apart from the pending basic policy compilation. However, because the content of the package showed a setback from what had initially been anticipated, lawmakers who were involved in the enactment of the law and citizens groups criticized the measures as having been "watered down."

On his Twitter account, Mizuno slandered those lawmakers and a Cabinet minister in a way that readers could almost identify them from the context, calling one Diet member as "looking like Doraemon" and one minister as a "habitual liar."

Mizuno declined to comment on his Twitter account during an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on the evening of June 11, only stating, "I run the account privately" and "I don't remember." He deleted his account shortly after the interview.

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