On December 3, 2010, Kevin Maher, Director of the Office of Japan Affairs and former U.S. Consul-General of Okinawa gave a lecture to the fourteen students of American University (Washington, DC) who were going to visit Okinawa to learn about the issues surrounding US military bases there. Kyodo News Agency, Okinawan newspapers Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Taimusu, and other media reported it on March 7, 2011, and anger quickly spread through Okinawa over Maher's numerous derogatory remarks about Okinawa and its people. The March 8 edition of Ryukyu Shimpo ran almost five full pages of special reports, analyses, an editorial that calls for dismissal of Maher, a response from US Embassy in Tokyo saying Maher's views did not represent the US government at all, and critical comments from former Governor of Okinawa Ota Masahide, citizens, politicians and scholars in Okinawa and Japan. Ota says Maher is one who "endorsed the Henoko plan, so we should use this opportunity to crush the plan."
Note: PeacePhilosopher added corrections to factual errors in the lecture in red, italic and bolded letters. See the PDF version without annotation HERE.
United States Department of States Briefing
December 3rd, 4pm, at the Department of State
-Department of State:
Mr. Kevin K. Maher, Director of the Office of Japan Affairs
14 Members of Alternative Break Trip to Okinawa, Japan, Winter Break 2010, "U.S. Military Bases and Their Impacts in Okinawa, Japan"
***All opinions and claims are from Mr. Maher
- I was the Consul General in Okinawa until 2009. It is said that a half of U.S. bases in Japan is located in Okinawa, but the statistic only includes bases used exclusively by the US Military. If all bases, US bases and bases jointly used by the US and JSDF, are considered, the percent of bases in Okinawa is much lower. (75% of military bases in Japan exclusive to US use are in Okinawa.)
- The controversial bases in Okinawa were originally in the middle of rice fields, but are now in the middle of towns because Okinawans allowed urbanization and population growth to surround United States facilities. (US military acquired many of those lands by forceful expropriation or while local residents were in the concentration camps during and after the war. Many residents had no place to live when they returned from the camp, and lived around the bases, close to their home land and where their anscestors' tombs were)
- The US bases in Okinawa exist for regional security. The Japanese obligation under the US-Japan security treaty is to provide land for bases. The relationship between Japan and the US under the security treaty is asymmetric and benefits the Japanese to the detriment of the US. (This is contradictory to Maher's last statement, "The high host nation support the Japanese government currently pays is beneficial to the US.We’ve got a very good deal in Japan.") Japan is not obligated to defend the United States if US forces are attacked, but the United States must defend and protect Japan’s people and property.
- Collective security is not a constitutional issue, but a policy issue. (Yes, it is a constitutional issue. The Japanese government's interpretation of Article 9 holds that Japan is NOT allowed to use its right of collective self-defense.)
- Eighteen thousand (18,000) US Marines and an air wing are stationed in Okinawa. (The number in 2007 was 13,200 according to Okinawa Prefecture. The number of Marines in Okinawa at any given time is a lot lower, with many of them in Iraq/Afghanistan and training elsewhere in Asia.) The United States needs bases in Okinawa for two reasons: bases are already there and Okinawa is an important geographical location.
- (While showing a map of East Asia) US Forces Japan is headquartered in Tokyo and is the location of a logistics hub that would coordinate supplies and troops in the event of a crisis. Misawa, an important base in the Cold War, is the closest U.S. base to Russia and the base at Iwakuni is only 30 min from Korea, yet Okinawa’s geographic location is important to regional security.
- Okinawa was an independent Kingdom paying tribute to China, although it has never been a part of China. The U.S. occupied Okinawa until 1972.
- The Okinawan people’s anger and frustration is directed at Japan rather than the United States.The DPJ government does not understand Okinawa. The Japanese government does not have a “pipe” of communication to Okinawa. When I offer to contact people in Okinawa DPJ officials say “Yes! Yes, please!” The LDP communicated with Okinawa and understood Okinawan concerns better than the current DPJ government.
- One third of people believe the world would be more peaceful without a military. It is impossible to talk with such people.
- The 2009 election brought the DPJ to power, which was the first change in the government of Japan.Hatoyama was a leftist politician. Despite the DPJ and PM Hatoyama, the US and Japan managed to issue the 2+2 statement in May.
- The US will relocate 8000 Marines from Futenma to Guam in order to reduce the US Military footprint on Okinawa. The plan will allow the US to maintain a military presence in the region to provide regional security and deterrence capability.
- Under the Roadmap, Japan will provide money for the relocation and it is a sign of a tangible effort from Japan. The DPJ government has delayed implementation, but I am confident that government will implement the existing plan. Tokyo needs to tell the Okinawan Governor, “if you want money, sign it [agree to the relocation plan].” ]
- There is nowhere else to base US Marines. The DPJ suggested a replacement facility in mainland Japan, but there is no place in mainland Japan for the US Military.
- Japanese culture is a culture of "Wa" (harmony) that is based on consensus. 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. Okinawans are masters of “manipulation” and “extortion” of Tokyo.
- Okinawa's main industry is tourism. While there is an agricultural industry, the main industry is tourism. Although Okinawans grow goya, other prefectures grow more than Okinawa. Okinawans are too lazy to grow goya (Okinawa is the number one producer of goya, or bitter melon, in Japan, with a share of 33%, followed by Miyazaki's 17% and Kagoshima's 14%).
- Okinawa has the highest divorce rate, birthrate (especially out of wedlock) and drunk-driving rate due to Okinawa’s culture of drinking liquor with high alcohol content.
- You should be careful about “tatemae and honne” while in Japan. Tatemae and honne is the “idea that words and actual intentions are different." While in Okinawa, I said MCAS Futenma “is not especially dangerous." My statements caused Okinawans to protest in front of my office. Although Okianwans claim MCAS Futenma is the most dangerous base in the world,they know it is not true. Fukuoka Airport and Osaka Itami Airport are just as dangerous (Fukuoka and Itami airports are NOT US military bases).
- Japanese politicians do tatemae and honne all the time. Okinawan politicians will agree to a negotiation in Tokyo but return to Okinawa and claim they did not. The US Ambassador and other representatives to Japan are constantly criticized for speaking the truth because the Japanese culture is too focused on tatemae and honne.
- The US Military and JSDF have different mentalities. The US Military trains to prepare for possible deployment, but the JSDF train without actually preparing for deployment.
- Local people oppose to night training by the US Military but it is necessary because modern warfare is often fought at night. Night training is essential to maintain deterrence capability.
- I don’t think Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution should change. I doubt it will ever be changed. It would be bad for the United States if the Japanese Constitution was changed because Japan would not need the United States’ Military. (The US military bases are justified under Anpo, or the Japan-US Security Treaty, NOT Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. The Japanese Constitution does NOT stipulate anything on US military presence in Japan.) If the Japanese Constitution was changed the United States would not be able to use Japanese land to advance US interests. The high host nation support the Japanese government currently pays is beneficial to the US.We’ve got a very good deal in Japan.
Related news below.
The Japan Times
Monday, March 7, 2011
U.S. diplomat accused of disparaging Okinawans
Islanders 'masters of manipulation and extortion' on Futenma issue
A U.S. official in charge of Japanese affairs at the State Department is said to have likened the Japanese cultural principle of maintaining social harmony to "extortion" and described Okinawans as "lazy" during a speech in Washington late last year.
According to a written account compiled by students who attended the lecture at the State Department, Kevin Maher, head of the Japanese affairs office and a former consul general in Okinawa Prefecture, described Okinawan people as "masters of manipulation and extortion" when dealing with the central government.
"I am not in a position to comment on the record at this time," Maher said, noting his briefing was an off-the-record event. He said the account made available to Kyodo News is "neither accurate nor complete."
Maher has been involved in the bilateral negotiations on relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and is known to be an advocate of relocating it elsewhere in the prefecture, an idea detested by local residents.
The remarks attributed to Maher are making waves.
They are "racially discriminating against Okinawa," said Teruo Hiyane, a scholar on postwar Okinawan history. Ukeru Magosaki, a former diplomat, said Maher's reported view on Japan is "biased and completely distorted."
Maher gave the speech Dec. 3 at the request of American University to a group of 14 students who were about to embark on a roughly two-week study tour of Tokyo and Okinawa.
In the speech, Maher was quoted as saying, "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," he said.
Maher also criticized the people of Okinawa as "too lazy to grow 'goya' (bitter gourd)," a traditional summer vegetable in the prefecture, according to the account.
On the base, which is situated in a crowded residential area of Ginowan, Maher allegedly said that while Okinawans claim the base is the most dangerous in the world, they know it's not true.
The civilian airports in Fukuoka and Osaka are "just as dangerous," he reportedly said.
Maher was quoted as saying that the Japanese government "needs to tell the Okinawan governor, 'If you want money, sign it," referring to the Futenma relocation plan.
Students who took notes during Maher's speech said he definitely made the remarks, and at least one said it was surprising to hear statements full of bias coming from a person in the U.S. government.
The air base affair in Okinawa has been dragging on for well over a decade.
Maher, 56, served as the consul general in Okinawa from 2006 to 2009 after joining the State Department in 1981 and being posted to Tokyo and Fukuoka.
Maher said of the account provided to Kyodo that he "cannot control how individual students themselves might interpret remarks" and "it would therefore not be appropriate" to attribute any specific remarks to him "based upon secondhand information coming from students or others."
In the summer of 2008, while he was posted in Okinawa, Maher sparked controversy after questioning why the local authorities were allowing the construction of homes in the residential area around the Futenma air base. Plaintiffs seeking damages over noise from the U.S. base then presented him with a written demand calling on him to immediately leave Okinawa.
Magosaki, former head of the international intelligence office at the Foreign Ministry, said he had the impression that "U.S. officials in charge of recent U.S.-Japan negotiations shared ideas like those of Mr. Maher," adding "in that sense, his remarks were not especially distorted."]
Kyodo News, March 7, 2011
Okinawa governor dismayed by U.S. official's 'extortion' remark
Okinawa Gov Hirokazu Nakaima expressed dismay Monday at a remark made by a former U.S. consul general in Japan’s southwestern island prefecture describing people there as ‘‘masters of manipulation and extortion.’‘
‘‘His remarks make me question what the U.S. consular office in Okinawa exists for,’’ Nakaima told reporters. ‘‘I wonder what he learned in Okinawa when he was here.’‘
Former Consul General Kevin Maher, who is in charge of Japanese affairs at the U.S. State Department, talked about his experience of negotiating with Japan over the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to Nago, another location in the prefecture, which is stiffly opposed by Okinawa citizens.
Maher told Kyodo News, ‘‘I am not in a position to comment on the record at this time,’’ saying his briefing was an off-the-record event. He said the account made available to Kyodo News is ‘‘neither accurate nor complete.’‘
The remarks attributed to Maher are being seen as provocative in Japan. They are ‘‘racially discriminating against Okinawa,’’ said Teruo Hiyane, a scholar on postwar Okinawan history. Ukeru Magosaki, a former Japanese diplomat, said Maher’s reported view on Japan is ‘‘biased and completely distorted.’‘
Maher spoke on Dec 3 at the request of American University to a group of 14 students just before their roughly two-week study tour to Tokyo and Okinawa.
In the speech, Maher was quoted as saying, ‘‘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,’’ he said.
Maher also criticized people in Okinawa as ‘‘too lazy to grow ‘goya’ (bitter gourd),’’ which is a traditional summer vegetable in the southern prefecture, according to the account.
On the Futenma base, located in a crowded residential area of Ginowan, Maher allegedly said while Okinawans claim the base is the most dangerous in the world, they know that is it not true.
Civilian airports in Fukuoka and Osaka are ‘‘just as dangerous,’’ he reportedly said.
Maher was quoted as saying that the Japanese government ‘‘needs to tell the Okinawan governor, ‘if you want money, sign it,’’ in reference to the Futenma relocation plan.
Students who produced notes of Maher’s speech said he definitely made the remarks, with at least one saying it was surprising to hear statements full of bias from a person with a position in the U.S. government.
Maher, 56, served as consul general, the top U.S. envoy, in Okinawa from 2006 and 2009 after joining the State Department in 1981 and being posted to Tokyo and Fukuoka.
Maher said of the account provided to Kyodo that he ‘‘cannot control how individual students themselves might interpret remarks’’ and ‘‘it would therefore not be appropriate’’ to attribute any specific remarks to him ‘‘based upon secondhand information coming from students or others.’‘
In the summer of 2008, while he was posted in Okinawa, Maher sparked controversy after questioning why the local authorities were allowing the construction of homes in the residential area around the Futenma base. Plaintiffs seeking damages over noise from the U.S. base presented him with a written demand calling on him to immediately leave Okinawa.
Magosaki, former head of the international intelligence office at the Foreign Ministry, said he had the impression that ‘‘U.S. officials in charge of recent U.S.-Japan negotiations shared ideas like those of Mr Maher,’’ adding ‘‘in that sense, his remarks were not especially distorted.’‘
Hiyane, professor emeritus of the University of the Ryukyus, said he ‘‘cannot overlook’’ remarks describing Okinawans as ‘‘lazy’’ and ‘‘masters of manipulation and extortion,’’ adding Maher’s remarks represent ‘‘a blatant mentality of occupation.’‘
‘‘The U.S. military has for over 60 years after the war occupied land best fit for agriculture in Okinawa,’’ he said. ‘‘Were it not for U.S. bases, the local economy including agriculture would have been different.’‘
‘‘By pretending to seek consensus, people try to get as much money as possible,’’ he was quoted as saying.
He also described people in Okinawa as ‘‘masters of manipulation and extortion’’ in their relations with the central government, according to the account.
In Tokyo, top government spokesman Yukio Edano told a news conference, ‘‘I do not think it is necessary to verify every remark (made by a U.S. official) based solely on news reports,’’ noting that their two countries regularly discuss and share mutual understanding on a wide range of bilateral issues.
Edano made his remark when asked if the government would make inquiries with the United States about the matter.
Kyodo News, March 8, 2011
U.S. says it is aware of Okinawa base-hosting burdens; respects local people
Tuesday 08th March, 08:42 AM JST
The U.S. government is aware of the base-hosting burdens in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture and respects the local people, a U.S. official said Monday, following recent reports that said a State Department official is said to have made remarks disparaging the people.
‘‘We recognize the burden that the people of Okinawa bear in terms of our bases. We deeply appreciate that,’’ a State Department official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
‘‘We have a great deal of respect for Okinawa and its people,’’ the official added.
His remarks came after Kevin Maher, who heads the Japanese affairs office at the State Department, is said to have made offensive remarks about Japanese culture and people in Okinawa in a lecture to students in Washington late last year.
The unnamed official declined to confirm or deny Maher’s remarks, saying only, ‘‘I’m not going to comment on things that may or may not be accurate.’‘
He also said Washington will continue to work with Tokyo on the relocation of a key U.S. Marine base in the southern island prefecture.
Maher likened the Japanese cultural preference for maintaining social harmony to ‘‘extortion’’ and described the people on the southern island of Okinawa as ‘‘lazy,’’ according to a written account compiled by some students who attended the lecture.