Japan Crisis: Yukio Edano, an Unlikely Hero of the Earthquake

Yukio Edano, Japan’s chief government spokesman, has become an unlikely hero of the crisis, became compared to the lead character on the hit television show ’24’, Jack Bauer, for his tireless work ethic.

Chief government spokesman Yukio Edano, the right-hand man of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, has emerged as an unlikely hero of the crisis, appearing every few hours on television in a blue emergency jumpsuit to update the nation. Photo: NHK Tv

Japan’s Twitter users have sent a lot of twitter messages of support to survivors of the earthquake-tsunami disaster, but they also have plenty to say – good and bad – about the country’s leaders.

Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary and the right-hand man of Prime Minister Naoto Ka, has aemerged as an unlikely hero of the crisis, appearing every few hours on television in a blue emergency jumpsuit to update the nation.

But many are worried the hero will collapse from a lack of rest since Friday’s twin disasters. The hashtag #edano_nero is trending on the popular micro-blogging site – “nero” means “go to sleep” in Japanese.

One Twitter user named Kagetoramaru tweeted on Monday: “As of 20:30 let?s all tweet #edano_nero, and make him go to sleep!”

A few hours later, another Twitter user named Jolly0730 responded: “Our wish #edano_nero has been fulfilled. It looks like he’s finally gone to bed.”

The user even likened the chief cabinet secretary to Jack Bauer, the lead character on the hit television show “24”, about a tireless counter-terrorism agent who works around-the-clock to prevent major attacks in the United States.

“Apparently it’s his first (sleep) in 105 hours. 105 hours, that means 4 seasons of ’24’. That’s four Jack Bauers. Thank you, Japan’s Jack Bauer!” Jolly0730 wrote.

At 5:00 am Tuesday, Edano emerged on camera, his eyes red-rimmed as he took the podium to field questions from journalists. At 4:30 pm, he was back for more.

And few hours ago he said that “the inner shell of a quake- and tsunami-damaged Fukushima’s No. 3 nuclear reactor might be damaged and radiation is so high there that employees could no longer enter the complex.”

Matching Edano’s efforts, Japan’s military, called the Self-Defence Forces, have also earned a hashtag — #jietai_tabero, or “SDF, eat something.”

However, not everyone is earning praise in the Japanese Twittersphere. The hashtag #kan_okiro is also cropping up, ordering the prime minister to “wake up”, in a veiled criticism of his handling of the massive quake, devastating tsunami and an escalating nuclear crisis.

The prime minister is facing public anger over what some media commentators have called his slow response to the public about radiation leaks at a quake-hit nuclear power plant in the disaster zone, and planned electricity cuts. “Kan, you don’t have to do anything anymore. You’re a burden,” tweeted sompen_at_wymm.

Social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook have been invaluable in the aftermath of the Japan’s earthquake as phone lines went down. Even local governments sent updates via Twitter when their servers went down and their web sites became inaccessible.

TEPCO, the operator of the quake-damaged Fukushima No. 1 atomic power plant, has a Twitter profile, but has not issued any tweets since the disaster. [via The Telegraph (UK), AFP News and Hindustan Times]

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