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Friday, 11 March 2011

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Slurs against Okinawa people:

US sacks desk head

The State Department’s Japan desk head Kevin Maher was replaced after he reportedly called Okinawans “lazy” and “masters of manipulation and extortion”, triggering outrage in Tokyo and on the far-southern island.

Okinawa, a major WWII battleground, still hosts more than half of the 47,000 US troops stationed in Japan — and anti-base sentiment there has become an irritant in ties between half-century security allies Washington and Tokyo. The United States’ top diplomat for the Asia-Pacific region, Kurt Campbell, on a Tokyo visit Thursday offered the latest in a string of official US apologies when he met Japan’s new Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto.

Campbell told Matsumoto, who took office just a day earlier, that he wanted “personally and on behalf of the US government to convey to you our deepest regret for the current controversy concerning... statements about Okinawa.”

“I just want to underscore that these in no way reflect the attitudes of warmth and gratitude and friendship that the United States has for the people of Okinawa, and we are deeply apologetic for this.”

Campbell informed Matsumoto that Maher had been demoted and replaced by Rust Deming, the US embassy said, calling Deming “a long-time diplomat, former deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Tokyo and a strong friend of Japan”. TOKYO, Wednesday, AFP

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