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Silly Videos of Japan Lawmakers Trying Foldable Helmets for Earthquake Protection Spark Debate

Some Twitter users were concerned by the lawmakers’ levity and found it tone deaf, considering the seriousness of the issue.


Updated:November 28, 2019, 12:41 PM IST
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Silly Videos of Japan Lawmakers Trying Foldable Helmets for Earthquake Protection Spark Debate
Political earthquake in Japan | Image credit: Reuters

Japanese lawmakers had a good laugh this week during a drill to practice the use of newly introduced disaster prevention helmets that have gone viral on social media.

Video images broadcast on television and other media showed Finance Minister Taro Aso smiling after successfully donning one of the collapsible plastic helmets, and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi wore a broad grin.

"You never know when disaster will strike," Tadamori Oshima, the lower house speaker, said at the end of Tuesday’s session, wearing one of the white helmets with gray chinstraps that are reminiscent of traditional samurai headgear. "I want you always to be on alert."

The drill in parliament’s lower house was the second since the kits, stowed under members’ seats, were introduced in 2017.

Despite getting instructions on how to unfold and wear the helmets, at least one parliamentarian put his on back-to-front. Others needed a helping hand and at least one of which was put on backwards, prompting many giggles on Twitter and also concerns about whether authorities were taking the drill seriously or not.

School disaster drills are not unusual in Japan, where earthquakes are common. A quake of magnitude 9.0 in March 2011 caused a massive tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Some Twitter users called the lawmakers’ levity off-key.

“The Speaker (of the lower house) was talking about being on alert, but others were laughing,” said one. “Before protecting themselves, they should protect people’s lives,” complained another.

Others took a lighter view. “Mr. Aso’s and Mr. Motegi’s smiling faces are charming,” wrote one apparent fan of the cabinet ministers.

Others shared their exasperation through memes.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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