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:

Japan Times Online:


Protect Yanbaru Forest and Local Community from Helipad Construction

Forwarded from: Citizen’s Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa

A great summery of the situation surrounding Takae since February 2011, and further background information on US bases in Okinawa.

Please utilize the contact list of authorities, including the local Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) that’s conducting the violent construction in Takae every day. A phone call to ODB I made recently suggested that they are becoming even more one-sided and stubborn defending themselves and criticizing the protesters. The representative that I spoke to clearly showed me his ignorance on the situation and indifference to the local residents; he insisted (as if he was preaching me who is from outside Okinawa) that he never had problems living next to the US base. He certainly lives and works in a safe noise-proof building.


Two congressmen call for pullout from Japan

An Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich and a Texas Republican Ron Paul have called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Japan. (From The Mainichi Daily News)

Whether or not in relation to what former Japan Prime Minister stated recently, Ron Paul “dismissed the view that U.S. forces in Japan serve as deterrence, saying this is an “excuse” to maintain a U.S. military presence in the region.” The former PM Hatoyama made a confession last week that during his time he expediently used the word “detterence” to describe the presence of US Marines. Hatoyama, who, at the beginning of his term, had promised a relocation of an existing base to outside Okinawa, has come out to make some kind of apology for his mistake and this act should be somewhat appreciated.

Considering what Kucinich describes the U.S. military bases in Japan as “really part of a bygone era,” I cannot help but wonder over and over again, if Okinawa Defense Bureau right now is following a very outdated manual and sending workers out to construct those helipads.

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — Two veteran U.S. congressmen have called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Japan amid the ballooning U.S. budget deficit.

“It’s becoming a financial issue,” Ron Paul, a Republican House of Representatives member from Texas, said in a recent interview with Kyodo News, indicating that maintaining U.S. forces in Japan has become a financial burden for Washington.

Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat member from Ohio, said in a separate recent interview with Kyodo News, “The United States truly cannot afford to construct the new base in Okinawa. Nor can it afford to have a military presence across the globe.”

Kucinich and Paul are heavyweights in the House, and both have experience of seeking the presidency. Paul, an advocate of isolationism, is supported by conservatives, while Kucinich is popular as one of the most liberal figures among the Democrats.

Last week, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff unveiled their latest National Military Strategy report pledging to maintain a strong U.S. military presence in northeast Asia for decades.

Some members of Congress say it is important for the United States to keep forces in Japan as China’s military presence is growing in the region while North Korea continues to act provocatively.

The two lawmakers, however, are opposed to continued stationing of U.S. forces in Japan.

“China’s interested in making money, not war,” Kucinich said.

Paul argued Tokyo should end its dependence on U.S. forces for its defense, saying, “It’s time for Japan to assume all of their own responsibilities.”

He also dismissed the view that U.S. forces in Japan serve as deterrence, saying this is an “excuse” to maintain a U.S. military presence in the region.

“For a long time I was probably the only one” who proposed such a view, he said, adding, “Now we’re getting more support.”

Kucinich is also critical of the current U.S. military strategy. “We don’t have the money to be the policemen of the world. And we should stop pretending that we do,” he said.

Describing the U.S. military bases in Japan as “really part of a bygone era,” Kucinich urged the two countries to move away from a relationship prioritizing military cooperation.

“We have a strong friendship with Japan. That friendship is not dependent on a military presence,” he said.

Both Paul and Kucinich said they can understand the feeling of local people in Okinawa Prefecture where a host of U.S. bases are located. Local opposition remains strong against a plan to relocate a U.S. base within the prefecture.

“What if China wanted a base in New York City? We’d be furious,” Paul said.

The problem in Okinawa is not U.S. Marine troops but “the people in Washington that send them there,” Kucinich said, adding, “This is an issue that Congress must take up with the White House so that we can make sure that the concerns of the residents of Okinawa are taken into consideration.”

(Mainichi Japan) February 16, 2011