Criticism Arises Over Prime Minister Kishida’s Brief Visit | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Criticism Arises Over Prime Minister Kishida’s Brief Visit

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Prime Minister Kishida exchanges words with residents before entering an evacuation center

On January 14, just before the two-week anniversary of the Noto Peninsula earthquake, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Wajima City and other areas in Ishikawa Prefecture to inspect the affected areas. Departing from the Prime Minister’s Office a little after 7:40 a.m., he changed to a transport plane at Iruma Camp of the Air Self-Defense Force in Saitama Prefecture and arrived at Komatsu Air Base at around 9:30 a.m. He was met by Governor Hase and arrived by helicopter at Wajima Sub-base of the Air Self-Defense Force in Wajima City a little after 10:30 a.m. At the base, he gave encouragement to the Self-Defense Force officers, police officers, and firefighters who are working in the disaster area. After that, they walked to the evacuation center at Wajima Municipal Wajima Junior High School, which is located nearby, and visited it.

Midway through, the Prime Minister shook hands and exchanged words with the residents, stating, “I will make efforts to ensure you can have strong hope.” A woman among the residents was teary-eyed and expressed joy at the Prime Minister’s visit. When asked about it, she said, “Just having the Prime Minister come is appreciated. I want him to bring energy to Noto.”

Afterwards, he visited evacuation centers, arriving around 10:45 AM and leaving the shelter a little after 11:10 AM. His stay was extremely brief, not even reaching 30 minutes. Then, just before 11:30 AM, he conducted an aerial inspection over Wajima City from a helicopter departing from a base and headed towards Suzu City.

We interviewed a man living in an evacuation center.

“I got angry thinking, ‘What can they do by coming now?’ Governor Hase has never come to the site so far and has been just watching the disaster areas on TV monitors. Especially the governor, I wanted him to come much earlier, regardless of the prime minister. I feel like I wasted my vote.”

Another said

“It’s unavoidable that the Prime Minister saw the morning market and collapsed buildings from the sky. But I wanted him to go to the site on foot and see for himself. The Prime Minister listened with a humble attitude, but I wish he had stayed longer, taken his time, and heard from various people.”

On the other hand, around the evacuation center, there were two patrol cars from the Ishikawa Prefectural Police, two patrol cars from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s Mobile Riot Unit, and police officers conducting vigilance. Perhaps influenced by the past incidents involving former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and an attack on a prime minister in Wakayama Prefecture, not only officers from the Ishikawa Prefectural Police and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police but also security personnel from the Osaka Prefectural Police were providing protection on-site. Around 30 security personnel and bodyguards were ensuring the prime minister’s safety, creating a tense atmosphere around the evacuation center.

The question now is whether Prime Minister Kishida can provide support that instills hope for the affected people.

CH-47J landing at Wajima Sub-base with the Prime Minister and others.
The Prime Minister wears a mask as he enters the evacuation center. He seems to be taking every precaution to prevent infection.
He leaves the evacuation center while talking with Wajima Mayor Shigeru Sakaguchi and others. The Prime Minister is concerned about his glasses, which are fogged up by the mask.
The area around the evacuation center was surrounded by police cars of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, creating a tense atmosphere.
  • Photography, Reporting, and Writing Takuma Arimura

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