March 10, 2011
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on March 9 demanded that the government demand a retraction of a U.S. official’s insulting comment on Okinawans and an apology for the comment from the U.S. administration.
Kevin Maher, the director of the Office of Japan Affairs of the State Department, described Okinawans as “masters of manipulation and extortion” during a lecture to U.S. students late last year.
Meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio in the Diet, Shii criticized Maher’s remark for “casting a slur on Okinawans aspiring for a base-free Okinawa.”
Shii also pointed out that although the U.S. military took land away from Okinawans to build the U.S. bases, the diplomat “distorted the history behind the bases there.”
Edano told Shii that the government had received a phone call from U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos and said, “I think the U.S. side is properly responding to this issue.”
Shii stated, “The government should have the ambassador go to the prime minister’s office to sincerely apologize for the insult.”
Edano answered, “I will deal with the matter in an appropriate manner.”
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The following is the letter from Shii to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo demanding an apology for Maher’s comment in question:
When we met last time, we discussed the question of the elimination of nuclear weapons as well as the situation in Okinawa and ways to solve it. This time I would like to convey my opinion on the ongoing controversy in relation to the Okinawa question.
Mr. Kevin K. Maher, director of the Office of Japan Affairs in the State Department, gave a lecture on December 3, 2010 at the State Department, the contents of which have been widely reported in the media. His remark was outrageous. He distorted the history of the U.S. bases in Okinawa, which were built by stealing people’s land, and insulted and attacked people who want a safe Okinawa without military bases, referring to them as “masters of manipulation and extortion.”
The U.S. military bases in Okinawa were built during the occupation period by illegally confiscating privately owned land in disregard of international law. Mr. Maher wrongly stated that the bases were “originally in the middle of rice fields,” and talked as if the Futenma Base problem was created by uncontrolled urbanization as people settled around the base. This statement only justifies the lawless acts by the U.S. military and shifts the blame onto the Okinawan people.
He also said, “Tokyo needs to tell the Okinawan Governor, ‘if you want money, sign it [agree to the relocation plan].’” In essence describing Okinawans as the kind of people who are easily bought off, he trampled upon their dignity.
In addition, he even stated that the Futenma Air Station “is not especially dangerous,” and “although Okinawans claim MCAS Futenma is the most dangerous base in the world, they know it is not true.” His statement is false, totally detached from the reality where Okinawan people are forced to live with the danger caused by the U.S. military bases.
The U.S. and Japanese governments agreed in 1996 on the return of the Futenma Air Station based on the understanding that it was dangerous and that the burden of the U.S. military bases on people in Okinawa must be reduced. Mr. Maher’s remark overturned the basic premise regarding the solution to this problem, i.e. the Futenma Base is indeed dangerous.
It is impermissible for one of the key officials in charge of the bilateral negotiations on the U.S. bases in Okinawa to make such a statement. The Japanese Communist Party demands that the U.S. government retract Mr. Maher’s statement and express an apology.