|08 March 2011
Japan: Political Storm As US Diplomat Accused Of Making Insulting Remarks About Japanese
Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, is made up of a group of
islands, most of which are uninhabited. The sub-tropical islands
stretch for 629 miles (1000 kilometers) of water from Taiwan to Kyushu.
After World War II the islands were placed under US
control. In 1972 administration for the 125,000 people of Okinawa was
handed back to the Japanese government.
Yet America still has close ties to the region with a large military base with 8000 soldiers stationed in Ginowan, Okinawa.
Pressure from residents on the Islands have called on
the US Government to close the base, claiming that the existence of
soldiers increases the level of crime.
The “most dangerous U.S. base in the world.” is
how former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was quoted as
describing the Okinawa military base called Futenma.
Successive Japanese governments have changed their
policies about what to do, where it should be located and the level of
In 2006 an agreement was reached to move the base and it’s personnel; an agreement that has since come under review.
With tensions in the air a State Department diplomat
responsible for Japanese affairs, Kevin Maher, has been documented as
saying that the people of Okinawa are “lazy” and “extortion” is what
their policy on social harmony amounts to.
His role as a diploma began in 1981 but was the State Department’s
representative in the Okinawa Prefecture for 3 years from 2006 to 2009.
Yet Maher is now being questioned over reports about a speech him made on December 3, 2010.
As he addressed the group of 14 university students some took notes and now he has to explain the accusation he said:
“Consensus building is important in Japanese culture.
While the Japanese would call this ‘consensus,’ they mean ‘extortion’
and use this culture of consensus as a means of extortion.
“By pretending to seek consensus, people try to get as much money as possible”.
Maher has denied the student reports adding all comments made during the address were off the record.
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