Japan's Reconstruction Minister Wears Evangelion Tie
posted on by Eric Stimson
Japanese Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura made headlines on April 4, when a heated exchange broke out between him and a freelance journalist at a press conference. Imamura is in charge of rebuilding the region that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, and the journalist was very persistent in asking the minister about voluntary evacuees and how to help them return home. After six minutes of questioning, the journalist accused Imamura of not understanding what was going on and demanded that he take responsibility. The minister objected, claiming that it was the evacuees' own responsibility and judgment and denying blame. He then ordered the journalist out of the room and not to come back; when the journalist refused, Imamura stormed out instead, shouting at the journalist to "Shut up!" when he tried to blame the minister for the evacuees' woes again. Imamura apologized for losing his cool later that day.
The exchange gets testy around 6:15.
Although the exchange was very confrontational by Japanese standards, a certain segment of the Japanese Internet fixated on another unusual aspect of the press conference: Imamura's tie. Neon Genesis Evangelion characters can clearly be seen on it.
It turns out that Imamura received the tie as a gift from Gainax's Fukushima Prefecture office while on a visit there on January 28. Eager to promote local companies from the still-struggling region, Imamura has worn the tie many times since then. He had earlier attracted notice for wearing it in a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting on February 28, when he chose to use it because he was sitting in full view of the TV cameras. He even made a point to show it off to Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Finance Minister Tarō Asō, whom he swears looked envious. And yes, he has seen the anime, although only "a little." He claims it makes his grandkid embarrassed.
Although it's a little unusual, it's not unheard of for Japanese politicians to be interested in anime, either. Asō is known to read Golgo 13 and Rozen Maiden, and he made an effort to promote manga and anime when he was prime minister. Tokyo governor and prime minister hopeful Yuriko Koike cosplayed as Princess Sapphire last year, and Prime Minister Abe himself attends Nico Nico Chōkaigi, an Internet culture convention, and enthusiastically promotes Japanese pop culture.