The Japanese Ministry of Transport takes its image and PR scandals shadowing it seriously, as shown by the recent decision of Transport minister Seiji Maehara to fire a regional Japan Coast Guard office chief and his deputy after a PR scandal caused by false information being given to the press following a helicopter accident from last month that killed five people.
What caused the PR scandal was not the helicopter accident itself, which killed all five Coast Guard members aboard when it crashed into the Seto Inland Sea in mid August. It was the false statemenets given by Hayashi to the press about the circumstances in which the accident happen. The office representatives initially stated that the helicopter was on a patrol mission when it crashed, to later admit that it was conducting demonstration flights for a group of judicial apprentices and it was in between two such demonstrative sessions.
Toshihiro Hayashi, head of the 6th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, and his deputy Kiyoshi Nakamura, will both be dismissed, effective September 10, proving the ”seriousness of the deaths of five people and the concealment of the fact (that the Coast Guard helicopter had been conducting) demonstration flights,” said minister Maehara said at a press conference.
The office head’s deputy Kiyoshi Nakamura admitted that he, Hayashi and other senior officials at the 6th Regional Headquarters had received information about the actual mission of the helicopter crew, but decided not to disclose it. Hayashi also apologized publicly in the same day for the misinformation, but it was not enough to save their jobs.
While the decision might seem harsh to some, it was inevitable it will happen if the Japanese Ministry of Transport wanted to preserve an image of a transparent institution that does not condone lies and coverups.