During a visit to a shelter in the disaster-struck city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture last month, leader of popular Japanese male idol group SMAP Masahiro Nakai passed out handheld game systems to children to help make their the shelter life a little more bearable.
However, this act of charity was soon surrounded in controversy as it was recently revealed that local officials were taking away the game consoles from some of the children.
The incident arose from the fact that Mr. Nakai had given game consoles not just to children living in the shelter, but also to children belonging to a ballet club in the city that happened to be volunteering at the same time of Mr. Nakai’s visit.
It seems that upon hearing this, some Ishinomaki residents complained that it doesn’t make sense that the volunteer children who are not living in a shelter would also receive such an expensive gift. In response, local officials took the game consoles away from the children of the volunteer group.
The action was me with harsh criticism from the Japanese Internet community, who commented with opinions such as: “public officials have no right to take away one’s personal possessions,” and, “even if the kids aren’t living in the shelters, they’re sill disaster victims.”
While some people did criticize Mr. Nakai for a lack of discretion in passing out game consoles in the first place, others commented that the children who volunteered should at least be able to keep them as a reward for helping out.
Due to these and similar other voices of protest the incident was met with, the game consoles have once again been returned to the hands of the volunteer children.