Japan's embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan received another blow after the man he appointed as Japan's reconstruction czar, Ryu Matsumoto, quit today after just one week in the newly created post following 'a visit from hell' to the stricken areas.
Kan is delaying his departure from office until progress on reconstruction is achieved and Matsumoto was intended to exemplify Kan's seriousness.
To his misfortune Matsumoto was caught on video arrogantly lecturing the the governor of one badly hit prefecture because he had been a few minutes late.
“You came late. When a guest comes, you have to be here first to greet him. Do I make myself clear?”
The minister then told the attending journalists that the comments were off the record and if someone reported them they would be “finished”. Instead it was Matsumoto who was finished.
The opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) jumped on the remarks, but it was looking for the Prime Minister's scalp.
“We hold Mr Kan responsible for naming [Mr Matsumoto] to the post. The best way to support the recovery and reconstruction of Tohoku is for the Kan administration to step down,” Nobuteru Ishihara, secretary-general of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, told Japanese media.
The LDP will emphasize this point when parliament reconvenes tomorrow.
The backlash against Matsumoto and Kan however was also shared by members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.
"I think the prime minister naturally should be held responsible for appointing [Matsumoto]," said DPJ Diet affairs chief Jun Azumi. "[Kan]has no centripetal force. . . . I feel ashamed over this disgrace toward the people in the disaster area who are in such a harsh environment."
Many residents in coastal communities are still stuck in evacuation centres and many businesses are unable to resume operations although months have passed since the March disasters.
A tearful Matsumoto apologized and prior to departing the stage urged "the ruling and opposition parties to join their hearts and work together for reconstruction work."