Tue, Mar 22, 2011 - Page 2 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: Japanese leadership lacking: Lee

READ UP:The former president said if Japanese authorities had read his book on how his administration handled the 921 Earthquake, they would have been better prepared

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporter

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday said he had concerns about the leadership of Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that sparked a radiation leak at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, adding that senior Japanese officials should have spent more time with the people.

Lee said that while he admired the Japanese people’s courage and composure during the crisis, he did not think their government had performed very well.

“Its [the government’s] biggest problem is that it is controlled by bureaucrats,” he said. “While the Japanese people are in dire straits, the prime minister was in a helicopter inspecting disaster areas at a time when he should have been on the ground visiting those areas.”

Lee, who wrote a book chronicling his administration’s relief efforts during the devastating 921 Earthquake in 1999, said the Japanese administration should have read that book so it would have had a better idea about how to manage the crisis.

“My heart goes out to the Japanese people who have showed their best qualities during this time of emergency,” he said. “Many things, such as stockpiling daily provisions, could have been dealt with if a state of emergency was declared.”

Lee made the remarks before attending an event organized by Taiwan Advocates, of which he is founder and chairman.

During the question-and-answer session, a Japanese student asked Lee what Japan could learn from Taiwan’s experience.

Lee said the Japanese displayed calm, endurance, patience and dignity during the crisis. While what the Japanese people did was admirable, authorities, such as Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, could have done a better job, Lee said.

Lee said Edano should have been with his people rather than giving updates of the situation on TV.

“Where is the government leadership?” he asked.

Lin Chi-wen (林繼文), a professor of political science at National Chengchi University, said since Taiwan’s system of government was not parliamentary, but rather semi-presidential, the president could issue emergency orders and is obliged to go to disaster areas to listen to people’s grievances.

Tokyo Electric Power also withheld information at the beginning of the nuclear crisis, slowing down the government’s relief efforts, Lin said.

Lin said he hoped that if a similar crisis occurred in Taiwan, such behavior would not take place.

Lee said he and his wife had planned to visit Japan on June 14, but had postponed their plan in light of developments there.

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