The 961-bed Fukui Prefectural Hospital has found itself embarrassed after its director posted remarks on his Facebook page that could be construed as making light of the illness that has recently killed over 1,000 people in several west African countries.
According to the Sankei Shimbun and other sources, on Aug 13, the hospital held a meeting to discuss possible measures for dealing with an outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever. After mentioning the meeting on his Facebook page, hospital director Dr Kazuhiro Murakita quipped, "Incidentally, Ebara is a marinade for barbecued meat." The remark was accompanied by a smiley face.
Murakita was referring to "Ebara," the brand of Ebara Foods Industry Inc and one vowel removed from "Ebora," which is how Ebola is pronounced in Japanese. The Yokohama-based company specializes in sauces, seasonings and other food products, with subsidiaries in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Its group sales in 2013 exceeded 43 billion yen.
After a barrage of complaints, Murakita deleted the remarks two days later. In exchanges with friends afterwards, the doctor was said to have made another pun, self deprecatingly referring to himself as having been "zubora" (sloppy or negligent).
"Henceforth, we'd like to see contagious diseases taken more seriously," a prefectural official was quoted as telling the Sankei newspaper.
Over the past weekend, the story has gone viral in the Japanese blogosphere.© Japan Today