Colonialist attitudes behind the ex-US Japan desk diplomat’s derogatory remarks about Okinawans

Colonialist attitudes behind the ex-US Japan desk diplomat's derogatory remarks about Okinawans

David Vine, an assistant professor at American University gave an interview at Okinawa Christian University on August 7.


August 8, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

A written account by the students of American University in Washington who attended the lecture by Kevin Maher, former director of the State Department’s Office of Japan Affairs and former consul general in Okinawa Prefecture, exposed his derogatory remarks about the people of Okinawa.
David Vine, assistant professor at American University and the supervisor of the students in question, was interviewed by the Ryukyu Shimpo on August 7.
With regard to Maher’s remarks, in which he was quoted as saying “Okinawans are masters of manipulation and extortion of Tokyo,” Vine pointed out that discrimination, colonialism and a sense of superiority are behind his remarks, saying “I suspect that a number of people in the US government share this opinion.”
Vine claimed that this is a structural issue within the US government and is not confined to the former director of the State Department’s Office of Japan Affairs.

Vine analyzed the reasons behind Maher’s remarks, saying “The people in the US government have a sense of mastery over the people and the societies of other countries. There is a mix of factors behind Maher’s remarks, such as the aspect that has its roots in racial discrimination.”
Vine continued, “At the root of the problem is the history in which the United States used to occupy Okinawa. A limited number of US government officials ruled Okinawa as an occupier. There has not been much structural change in the reins of power that the US government has over the people of Okinawa even after its reversion to Japanese administration.”

Vine referred to the reaction American people to the issue of returning Futenma Air Station to Okinawa or relocating it to other areas either within or outside the prefecture, saying, “Few people in the United States know about the issue. Foreign news coverage in the US press is limited, which is a major problem.”

From the standpoint of studying U.S. military bases located in foreign countries, Vine claimed that such bases have much in common, saying, “U.S. military bases have negative repercussions for the country that hosts them. Noise pollution, crimes such as rape committed by U.S. military personnel, and environmental destruction can be seen.”

Vine visited Okinawa to participate in “Dialogue Under Occupation,” international conference (hosted by DUO Conference Executive Committee), which was held in Okinawa International University and Okinawa Christian University from August 6.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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