On Tuesday, the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture announced that he plans to resign at a prefectural assembly in June after facing a backlash for his gaffe about fruit sellers. The previous day, Governor Heita Kawakatsu delivered a speech to newly hired prefectural officials, telling them that, “unlike those who sell vegetables, raise cattle and make things, everyone here is a brainy and intelligent person.” He later apologized for the faux pas, though he denied insulting certain professions. “All occupations are equally valuable. They are all necessary,” he said. “I’m very sorry if I made people feel uncomfortable.” 

Previous Calls for the Shizuoka Governor to Resign

As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the prefectural government of Shizuoka had received 430 complaints by phone and email in relation to Governor Kawakatsu’s comments. It’s not the first time he has come under fire for disparaging remarks during his tenure. He was advised by the Shizuoka prefectural assembly to resign in 2021 after he suggested that Gotemba city “only has koshihikari” as its local specialty. Just last month, he publicly ranked regions within the prefecture based on how “cultured” they were. With his latest gaffe, though, he has gone too far, making his resignation inevitable.  

Opposition to the High-Speed Maglev Train

A former economic historian, Kawakatsu has written several books on Nihonjinron, which refers to discourses on the distinctiveness of the society, culture and national character of Japanese people. He became governor of Shizuoka in 2009 and is currently serving his fourth term. He is probably most well-known for his opposition to the launch of the high-speed maglev train between Tokyo and Nagoya due to environmental concerns, despite initially supporting the project. As a result, work for the section passing through Shizuoka hasn’t started. Last Friday, Central Japan Railway Co. announced that it had given up on plans to launch the train in 2027. 

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