US Diplomat’s disparaging lecture on Okinawa

Kevin Maher, the head of Japan Affair at US Dept. of State and former U.S. Consul-General of Okinawa has been accused of his remarks on Okinawan people in his lecture he gave to American University students in December 2010. 14 students were given his lecture prior to their visit in Okinawa during their winter break. After a visit to Okinawa, the students assembled their notes from Maher’s lecture, brought them forward to accuse his words. The lecture notes clearly shows false information on Okinawan people Maher has given, and suggests that a US imperialist discourse on Okinawa has resurfaced. Maher’s remarks include: “Okinawans are too lazy to grow goya (bitter melons, a famous produce of Okinawa)”, “Okinawans are masters of ‘manipulation’ and ‘extortion’ of Tokyo.” Anger spread rapidly all over Okinawa as soon as news agencies reported this incident. “Maher’s statement ruined our friendship with Japan,” said one of the students who accused of Maher’s, told Asahi Shinbun:

[I] met a lot of people in Naha and Nago. Okinawan people were honest, studious and sincere. There were no manipulators but families who hope for a safe, clean and healthy society for their children.

Back in December, Japanese TV reported the students’ impression on their visit on the island:

Detailed post from Peace Philosophy Centre including the full notes from Maher’s lecture: http://peacephilosophy.blogspot.com/2011/03/anger-spreads-over-kevin-mahers.html

Japan Times Online: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110307a2.html

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