No Japanese cabinet members visited areas hit by the Noto earthquake?

Verdict: False
By Zhuang Jing for Asia Fact Check Lab
2024.01.19
Taipei, Taiwan
No Japanese cabinet members visited areas hit by the Noto earthquake?
Photo: RFA

Chinese-language media outlets have reported that as of Jan. 7, no members of the Japanese cabinet visited the regions impacted by the Noto earthquake, which struck on New Year’s Day. It had a magnitude of 7.6, and was centered on the Noto Peninsula in Japan’s Ishikawa Prefecture.

But the claim is false. Japanese Cabinet members visited the area almost immediately after the earthquake struck, according to government statements and media reports. 

The claim was shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Jan. 7, by a Hong Kong based pro-Beijing outlet Tong Media.

“Japan’s Noto has just been hit by an earthquake. Japan’s foreign minister visited Ukraine on the 7th, and members of the cabinet were accused of “not even going to the disaster-hit area, but went to Ukraine instead,” the claim reads in part. 

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Chinese media outlets and social media influencers claim that no Japanese cabinet members visited the area, but the foreign minister went to Ukraine. (Screenshot/Weibo & X)

The claim began to circulate following a surprise visit by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa to Kiev on Jan. 7. 

As the two-year anniversary of the Russo-Ukrainian war in February draws near, Kamikawa announced Japan’s pledge of US$37 million to aid Ukraine in developing unmanned aerial surveillance systems, reinforcing Japan’s ongoing support. This visit occurred shortly after a Jan. 1 quake hit the Noto Peninsula.

The news about Kamikawa’s visit and pledged grant to Ukraine ignited a debate in Japan, with several online users calling for the Japanese government to prioritize domestic disaster relief.

Citing one of the users, Russia’s state-run broadcaster RT also claimed: “No one [from the Japanese Cabinet] has been to Noto, but some of them have visited Ukraine.” 

But the claim is false. Japanese Cabinet members visited the area almost immediately after the earthquake struck, according to government statements and media reports. 

Tokyo’s response to the earthquake

In the days following the earthquake, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held several press conferences, during which he provided detailed explanations about the extent of the damage in Noto and outlined the government’s response plan.

On Jan. 1, Kishida said that a Cabinet investigation team headed by State Minister Yoshifumi Matsumura, who is in charge of disaster management, had already arrived by plane in Ishikawa prefecture’s capital of Kanazawa.

On the following day, Kishida also noted that Deputy Minister of the Cabinet Office Atsushi Koga had visited and performed an inspection of the disaster area by helicopter. 

Koga’s visit to the disaster area has been widely covered by local media outlets, including Asahi Shimbun.

Translated by Shen Ke. Edited by Taejun Kang and Malcolm Foster.

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