Following the French national football team’s surprise loss to Japan last Friday, and in an apparent effort to praise Japan’s performance on the night, France 2 television presenter Laurent Ruquier showed a composite picture of Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima with four arms and then dubbed it the ‘Fukushima effect’.

The joke was met with some initial amusement in the studio, but Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura failed to see the funny side, saying the reference to last year’s nuclear crisis in Fukushima that killed 15,000 people was “inappropriate”.

The Japanese Embassy in France has sent a letter to France 2 in protest, saying the joke “hurts the feelings of people affected by the disaster and hinders efforts for reconstruction.”

Japan’s education minister Makiko Tanaka, whose portfolio includes sports, was also far from amused. “If it’s true” she said, “it is behaviour which lacks sensitivity. Many people were hurt in the nuclear crisis. I don’t know how people can make fun of it.”

There will no doubt be a call for an apology and CBRNe World hopes it is forthcoming.

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