crime

American consul general in Okinawa doused with coffee

76 Comments

Police on Monday arrested a man for throwing hot coffee on American Consul General Kevin Maher in Urasoe City, Okinawa Prefecture. According to police, Maher had gone to a coffee shop near the American Consulate, when a 43-year-old man who had just purchased hot coffee suddenly threw the beverage at him, yelling "Get out of Okinawa." The suspect forcefully pushed the consul general in the chest.

Maher held the man until police arrived, and the suspect was charged with assault. Maher was unharmed in the incident, police said.

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Hang him!

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Yes, a hanging is the only just punishment! The Roman consul cannot be treated in this manner!

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These Okinawans, (those who Are anti base), do not get it. Mr Maher is a diplomatic official of the US. Even if the bases were not there, he would stay. As for the bases, they need to complain to the Japanese Government, which is the one who decides if we stay of not. So, go and complain to the Defense Facilities Administration, which now is located at the Kadena Circle.

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Get out of Okinawa

I wonder if he said it in English?

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Send him to Guantanamo!

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That is assault. Irrespective of your views regarding such issues, people are not supposed to go around assaulting diplomats, whether they are Americans, Japanese or Martians for that matter. This guy should be taken down the cells and hit with every charge possible. The US Consulate/US Embassy should also apply all necessary pressure to insure that this case both comes to trial and the suspect is dealt with harshly if found guilty.

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This deserves the same sentence that a shoe thower would get. Jail time matey.

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dealt with harshly? like the shoe thrower??

I wonder if it was american coffee or killaman jero.

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That is assault. Irrespective of your views regarding such issues, people are not supposed to go around assaulting diplomats, whether they are Americans, Japanese or Martians for that matter. This guy should be taken down the cells and hit with every charge possible. The US Consulate/US Embassy should also apply all necessary pressure to insure that this case both comes to trial and the suspect is dealt with harshly if found guilty.

One rule for one, another for everybody else. If the yanks want to preach about the moral high ground then they need to act upon it themselves first!!! The next time some US military personnel is up for committing a more heinous crime in Japan, will the US consulate/Embassy apply the same pressure for a fair trial. I don't think so!

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"These Okinawans, (those who Are anti base), do not get it."

So, in other words, the majority of the Okinawans do not get it.

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Mr Maher is a diplomatic official of the US.

Did the coffee-thrower know that? Or did he just flip at the sight of 'yet another yankee'?

Either way it's not done to throw cups of hot coffee at folk - someone could get hurt. But I doubt the bloke intended to cause a high-level diplomatic incident.

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I wonder if this guy will be as famous as the show thrower?

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Whitepocky you seem to have missed my point. This US chap is a diplomat who is protected under various international treaties. If the chap who threw coffee is not punished to the full extent of the law, then what sort of message does it send regarding a nation's attitudes to the protection of diplomats? This time it just happened to be in Okinawa and the victim just happened to be an American diplomat. My views would be the same if such an incident happened in the US against a Japanese diplomatic representative.

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Good post timorborder!!

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sarcasm123 - Majority of Okinawans, I believe, are not anti-base. Certainly not the shopkeepers who have stores around any of the bases. Indeed, the US presence in Okinawa is one of the reasons it's not been hit harder given the current economic climate. It is the vocal minority though who always make the headlines. I do know that some of the right-wing nationalist groups from mainland send people down to take part in anti-base protests in Okinawa to make it look like there is a large movement here. In fact, Okinawan people were criticised by one group last year for accepting and (in some cases) welcoming the US military.

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Problem with this is, he could have thrown hot coffe in my face and told me to get out of Okinawa, assuming im American. But hell, I have never even been to America. Point is, Dont throw cups of coffee on people you don't know. They might be an American diplomat, or even not American. They might even want Americans out of there as much as you do. Throwing coffee doesn't achieve anything except a wasted coffee duh...

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soldave - Give the shopkeepers the choice between the bases and a tourism paradise and I am sure the majority wouldn't need a long time to make a decision. Concerning the rest of the Okinawans (what you call the "minority" I guess), I remember seeing figures on whether young Okinawans would prefer to stay in Okinawa or leave. The figures, needless to say, showed that the majority would prefer to go. Why?

Don't fool yourself: the majority of the Okinawans wants the bases gone.

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This US chap is a diplomat who is protected under various international treaties.

Including thumbing his nose at foreign laws and customs.

We only know what the story states. We dont know if the perp was provoked or just deranged. Granted its assault and he should be dealt with accordingly, lets hope this dosent make Okinawa an axis of evil.

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Including thumbing his nose at foreign laws and customs.

You know something we don't about American Consul General Kevin Maher?

When did he thumb his nose at foreign laws and customs? The guy went to a local coffee shop I don't think that is violating any Japanese law and having a cup of coffee is a local custom there also.

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Maybe the guy was sick of over-priced coffee and he thought Maher was the President of Starbucks. "Get out of Okinawa!"

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Including thumbing his nose at foreign laws and customs

Diplomats (including US diplomats) who thumb their nose at foreign laws and customs tend to suffer in two ways. Firstly, the host country is able to PNG them (it has happened in the past). Secondly, when they get back home, they suffer from what is called DCD (drastic career deacceleration).

Just out of interest, I believe the Kevin Meyer is a State Department golden boy, being a committed Japan specialist. I could be wrong?

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This kind of stuff will do wonders for the sagging tourism industry in Okinawa. Someone throws hot coffee on me, and they can expect more than restraining them until the police arrive. They will more than likely have to call an ambulance for one of us. Kudos to Kevin for his self restraint!

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Coffe was Brazilian, that is why consul general went to buy it outside, because US is now swiming with bad economy there must be shortage of coffee at the Consulate. Was suspect unemployed, could he get suspended sentence?

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This coffee thrower will be quietly hero worshipped by most Japanese people.

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Like i said we dont know what set this guy off. My comment about thumbing his nose was in reference to alot of these people doing as they wish, "Im a american" with diplomatic immunity. Then again I could be 110% wrong and he was the the best ambassador for our country at that time.

Im just bringing it up because I have seen a few act like asses even to their own citizens.

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Just a few days some American ran over 3 people. Maybe that set him off. Been to Okinawa once. Nice place but without the bases and what money it brings to the island I could see that place alot poorer.

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I have met Kevin Maher on several occaisions and can honestly say that he is a good and decent man with a deep appreciation for Okinawan culture. This incident took place at the Starbucks directly next door to the U.S. Consulate, which is itself quite ironic. The bum wants American bases out of Okinawa, but has no problem whatsoever buying American coffee...

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sarcasm123 wrote: Concerning the rest of the Okinawans (what you call the "minority" I guess), I remember seeing figures on whether young Okinawans would prefer to stay in Okinawa or leave. The figures, >needless to say, showed that the majority would prefer to go. Why?

Do you really think young people want to leave Okinawa because of the bases? Do you even know why they want to leave? Maybe because it gets boring after a while. More fun and opportunity is on the mainland where the bigger cities are located. Hell, the bases contribute more to the economy than any other source. Even with tourism, Okinawa would become poorer than it is now.

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sarcasm123 - Could you please provide a source for your figures that you have seen? Would be interested to read that. And how would hotels that are only filled to 20% capacity for most of the year (the Busena resort/Bankokysinryokan is a good current example) suddenly become full of tourists if the money that the US puts into the Okinawan economy left? Bear in mind according to the Okinawan government's own website, the US provided the Okinawan economy with over Y173bn in the 1996 fiscal year. Take into account rising land and commodity prices over the past 13 years and that's quite a black hole to fill

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I'm sure there are many older folks whom long for a "base-free" Okinawa, but I wouldn't say that necessarily holds true for the younger generation. I have met literally hundreds of kids while teachng at university here who want nothing more than to find a good paying, permanent job on base.

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My Japanese friend went to visit the Philipines once, they told me they were in a hamburger shop when out of no where this lady threw a drink at him and started saying stuff, he talked to another lady who was saying that the person was yelling at him for the things Japan did in World War 2. He himself had nothing to do with it, and how did the lady know he was Japanese to begin with? He could of been any asian person. Any case, the General Consul, Consulate Generals are not ambassadors, they don't have a team of DSS (Diplomatic Security Service) agents nor marines around them, they are usually career diplomatics, and do not typically have diplomatic immunity like Ambassadors. I don't see or read anything here that he did anything wrong, he just went for some coffee and some guy went off when he saw him.

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timorborder i am sure he will get a hefty suspended sentence

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Badge123 - Think that's exactly what happened. Didn't know what nationality the guy was but saw a foreigner, assumed he was American and assumed he was military (doesn't take a huge imagination to guess at those two in Oki though).

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Objective: Further develop Okinawa into a resort destination. Step 1: influence the local populace to assist in this endeavor by encouraging the removal of the U.S. bases by exciting the emotions of the local populace through the use of the press. Actions taken: excited the local populace with stories related to crimes committed by U.S. forces against the local populace, noise, and other issues deemed to be nuisances. Results: Demonstrations, occasional civic unrest, and the cooperation of the national government in Tokyo to develop a plan to jointly prepare facilities in Guam through the use of national tax. Risk: minimal as of now except occasional thrown cups of hot coffee or other hostile acts committed by the locals towards U.S. entities…

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Reality: Knowing that the bases, due to employment of Japanese nationals, lease rents, etc.. is going to pump "X" billion yen per year into the local economy.

Fantasy: Turning a KNOWN economy booster into a tourist resort, therefore gambling that any seasonal increase in tourism will offset the consistent and annual boost from the bases.

REALITY, PART DUEX: Tossing coffee at the Consulate will NOT achieve your goals, will not further the discussion of your goals, will not do anything but show you to be a complete loon.

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Okinawans are so docile, I'm surprised how the Japanese and Americans could manage to do as they please with them up to this far.

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Yo Badge man!

As an official diplomat of the USA, that K. Maher dude has diplomatic immunity. Had he thrown coffee and pushed a local, the cops could have done jack shite.

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Just because the US bases create an economy in themselves it doesnt mean they should stay there.

Some locals want them out..and thats fair enough. They want the land back and the ability to do as they see fit with their islands. money or no money.

The arguement about the benefits Bases bring is a seperate issue.

The Consuls job brings with it such risks....he representsthe US interests so thats exactly the place to take your complaints!

politicians get eggs thrown at them..shoes...etc..its an occupational hazard. Cant expect to be an occupying force and get no stick from locals !

Although I dont agree with the method chosen, I reckon it probably has the most amount of direct psychological impact than reading stacks of paper reports!

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The bases account for 5% or less of the local economy, yet occupy 20% of the land.

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Something you need to Have clear, Okinawans play the wild card. When they befriend Americans, they complain about not being Japanese. When they are around Japanese, they complain about the Americans. Complaining is a way of storting more money from the Japanese Government. And they do not get it because complaining to the consulate general or in front of military bases is not the correct way to do it. they need to complain in front of Defense not the correct way to do it. they need to complain in front of Defense Facilities Administration HQs。As far as those who are ok with the bases, they keep quiet about it because they are scared to be identified with as a pro base person. They are controlled by a minority who try to get the most person. They are controlled by a minority who try to get the most out of the situation, but do not want to be known as a supporter of the base.

Moderator: Back on topic please.

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In Okinawa, Americans get angry when they are told they are not wanted. Everyone wants to feel important.. so they dislike being told they are not wanted or loved, since they have to painfully swallow this, they immediately resort to the argument of how much money the "Americans" (I) am pumping into the economy. This translates to need. You may not love me, but you need me and my money. This fulfills the "important" void. It's all basic child psycology. As far as any Okinawans that want the bases, they are benefitting somehow from the bases and don't necessarily like the Americans, but are scared to be tagged as an uncle tom...

aw

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Turns out consular immunity and diplomatic immunity are somewhat different. Oh well, guess his hand to hand combat training saved his suit.

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This is extremely atypical behaviour, and I think when the facts are in they will show that the coffee flinger is either mentally unbalanced with a prior record, or perhaps he just got laid off his job and decided to take it out on a foreigner.

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Well said Loki520. And so ends our lesson in local elected Okinawa PSY-OPS 101 that originated in the late 90`s, special interest, particular elected officials and profiting construction entities, and the constant published madness of Joe does it all resulting in a thrown cup of hot Joe…unless of course…the media, really wants to kick it up a notch and play hehehe…We can start with Swamp Kuma…

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you can do damage with boiling water... especially to the face

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"Maher held the man until police arrived"

I'll bet that man was royally pissed that Maher was able to hold him until the police arrived.

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Firstly this really was just a waste of coffee. But having said that of all the possible American targets this fool could have thrown coffee on Maher was a bad choice, though of course the fool wouldn’t have known that. Maher has spent a lot of time in Japan (& is married to a Japanese with three children) & is fluent in Japanese, cares about the country & is not the man that any unhappy Okinawan should be throwing coffee or anything else at. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Maher was asked off the record he might also say that the US military have over stayed their time on Okinawa.

This “argument” we always get that Okinawa needs the money from the bases is nothing but a smoke screen, the Philippines needed the money from the bases too & the US packed & left because it suited the US & when they have no more use for Okinawa they will do the same. Making it sound like the US military are there to protect Japan & Okinawa in particular is total rubbish, the US is there because it suits them & only them. When that changes they will leave & they will not be in the least bit interested in the economy of Okinawa. Truth they have no reason to be & I wouldn’t expect or ask them to be, however, in the meantime they should cut the crxp & be what they are, a front line out post of the US military that just happens to be stationed on Okinawa.

One an extra thought for those Americans that have no idea what it is like living near a US base just try to think who the US is currently putting in US military uniforms. These are not the cream of American society we are talking about & you may feel a patriotic need to defend them when they are fighting to defend your country, I accept that, but try to think how others might feel having to live with people you wouldn’t want to live with.

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Regardless of military policy and politics, any person who assaults another with coffee, etc., should get the feces forced out of them physically by foot. Kevin is 54, just had an operation and weighs probably half of what the guy who "attacked" him weighs. Despite his position as a diplomat, he deserves to drink a cup of coffee and eat a doughnut in peace, and there is no political/policy justification for having to endure juvenile behavior (especially from a 43 year old man).

I played against Kevin in midget football in the 70's and he is wirey but tough, especially when pissed off. The guy is lucky Kevin didn't revert to his south Georgia-raised roots and make the guy eat the coffee cup. I have no doubt he was able to hold the guy until the Okinawan police came. He loves America and Japan (his wife is Japanese and all his children are fluent in Japanese), so choosing him as a target is not only adolescent, but just stupid. He gets harassed all the time and I have seen him laugh it off, or politely disengage the situation, so he knows his job and does it well.

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As an official diplomat of the USA, that K. Maher dude has diplomatic immunity. Had he thrown coffee and pushed a local, the cops could have done jack shite.

Turns out consular immunity and diplomatic immunity are somewhat different. Oh well, guess his hand to hand combat training saved his suit.

That's what I was trying to tell you in the first place. Consular officers are not Ambassadors, yes he's a diplomat, but they don't have the same immunities. Also diplomatic immunity isn't like something you see in the movies where you can waive a badge around and start shooting people with impunity.

Anycase, I forgot why that is even a topic, HE did nothing wrong. Some guy attacked him and he held the guy until the police arrive, which I assume was pretty fast, because I would assume local police are patroling areas such as around the Consulate.

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So how many times are we going to hear different versions of this story? Now this one has him holding the guy down and the guy yelling "get out". The coffee thrower was probably just pissed off at the recent increase of starbucks shops on Okinawa. Now the introverts that live on base can say they go to more places off base! The starbucks in chatan, urasoe, naha, and yomiton!

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As for those of you who think the bases support the local economy, ever been to Okinawa? As Mookoo said, they only contribute to 5% of the local economy. Okinawa would take a hit if they left, but they would recover.

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Thanks guys for nothing. This American chappy is a Consul. I never had him down as the Ambassador. That being said, however, he still has basically the same rights and protections afforded to US diplomats up here in Tokyo. These are rights and protections that have been breached courtesy of this assault. I just hope the Japanese police get off their bxtts and prosecute the Japanese guy to the full extent of the law.

Just out of interest, the US Consul down in Okinawa does actually rank rather high on the US diplomatic food chain over here in Japan. On reason for this is all those bad boys and girls in uniform. One of the Consul's jobs is to act as the local face of US diplomacy down south. Secondly, I believe that the current consul is a Japan specialist who has done a couple of stints up in Tokyo as a Embassy Counsellor before being sent South. This probably sets him apart from the normal champaign swilling twits you sometimes get as Consuls.

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Grafton... finally a post that makes sense.. thanks

aw

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Send him to Guantanamo!

Absolutely! Try this Okinawan cretin as a terrorist, lock him away for 5 years, I'm guessing the US may just have the jurisdiction to do just that? This moron is obviously projecting his hatred onto the Consul General, bitter about the fact that he and his lazy neighbours are responsible for Okinawa being a pitiful, third-world style prefecture. Gimme Saipan/Guam/Hawaii any day!!! I hope Mr. Maher is OK, by the way.

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It is a right to protest the empirical occupation, but one should not use violence. A shoe or egg would be acceptable, but hot water is crossing the line.

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Someone done that to me i'd punch them in the cakehole. Coffee might burn, that's ABH innit?

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"Empirical occupation." Hilarious! Well done.

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That being said, however, he still has basically the same rights and protections afforded to US diplomats up here in Tokyo.

Actually no, generally speaking diplomatic staff (eg the Ambassador or those working closely with the Ambassador) and Consular staff have different rights and protections. Sometimes depending if they were acting in an official capacity or not, nor are consular offices award the same privileges as Embassies.

These are rights and protections that have been breached courtesy of this assault.

I'm a bit confused, what consular or diplomatic protections were breached when a private Japanese person attacks the Consular? Usually consular/diplomatic protections are breached when government agencies or people working for the government do something.

The thing I do see breached is the right that every single person has, not limited to diplomats, and that is the freedom to go buy some coffee and not be assaulted by someone.

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But anycase, the Consul did nothing wrong, and the guy who threw the coffee isn't going to get anything accomplished by assaulting other people.

It's like when I watch protests, peaceful protests are fine and I have no problems (not just Japan but in the US as well) but its when you have loonies that start going around and picking fights and destroying property for the point of just destroying property, like flipping over cars and stuff, that's not really going to advance your cause.

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"The suspect forcefully pushed the consul general in the chest.

"Maher held the man until police arrived, and the suspect was charged with assault."

Like many big tough Lefties, imagining themselves to be the brave opponents of American 'hegemony', this clown obviously had a long-standing fantasy that involved being arrested.Mission accomplished.

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Like many big tough Lefties, imagining themselves to be the brave opponents of American 'hegemony', this clown obviously had a long-standing fantasy that involved being arrested.Mission accomplished.

He could just as well be a right-wing nut, you know the ones who do not like foreigners being in Japan, including Americans and American soldiers.

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Burakumindes: Third rate prefecture? Well, they do have a tough time since the mainland types don't really view them as true "Japanese". They also have mainland companies setting up shop and sending their profits back to the mainland when they should be investing that money back into Okinawa. However, I'd take the laid back and accepting (more often than not) lifestyle of the uchinanchu over the busy lifestyle/superiority complex of the mainland types.

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Badge123, well he accomplished something by getting the issue in the news again, even if he will be incarcerated for it. End of story, i guess.

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what an outrage, after what America has done for Japan. that man should know what great things America has done. in fact, Japan has done too little for America.

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Mookoo - Do you have a source for the 5% you quoted? Would like to see that and see where the other Y30bn or so that's injected into the Okinawan economy comes from.

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Soldave, here's your data. Now quit nitpicking and get back on topic!

http://www3.pref.okinawa.jp/site/view/contview.jsp?cateid=14&id=587&page=1

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So the US takes 20% of the main Island of Okinawa.. the best, flattest, most buildable land but only contributes 5% to the economy and only employs 8400 people of an Island of 1.3 million. Nope.. I don't think they are needed for economic reasons..

aw

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A few things:

The guy who did this, is not Okinawan. His surname is from mainland. So, like the protesters, is from Honshu, not Okinawa.

Okinawans kind of don't like the Consular General because he speaks very frankly, and in good Japanese. So they automatically associate this with being extremely pro Japan. And concerning the economy, the 5% doe snot include the money spent for all base construction that goes to Okinawan and Japanese companies. The US does not build anything, the locals do.

Oh, and before complaining about how much land the US has, you'll have to ask the Japanese Government about that.

Ciao

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Sicilian is dead wrong.

Japan has held Okinawa as a possession since the early 1600s. There have been mainlanders on Okinawa for 400 years. More came in the late 1800s when Okinawa became a prefecture. There are people with mainland surnames that were born and raised in Okinawa. We don't know this man's family history, and assumptions based on his name are likely false.

Okinawans do not have a dislike for the Consul General because of his Japanese ability. Some dislike him as one of his jobs is to put a positive spin on US military activities here. To try and spin the crime associated with the US forces. To coordinate with the embassy in Tokyo. Other Okinawans like him precisely because he can communicate in the local lingo, and does not need to leap to conclusions based on very limited English news clips.

The 5% in the prefectural figures are widely quoted in various reports on Okinawa. They most certainly do include the construction on bases. What do you suppose the category "Tatal (sic) revenues from military-related transactions" on the prefectural website means? Tatal revenues from military-related transactions
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So you confirmed my first assumption. The surname is not of the Ryukyu people. And formal annexation was in 1869 I believe. Plus a lot of Chinese settled here in those times. We'll agree to disagree.

The Consular General is very frank, and those that do not like him are incensed with the way he says things. Yes, the military spin is not a help, but it comes with the job description. There wasn't this much mistrust with the last guy.

And the money, well, I have a hard time believing the US only contributes 5% to the economy. I guess between rent, conspicuous spending, base employment, and construction does not add up to more than 5%? So, how much do the North Koreans contribute (the ones who own the pachinko places)? You won't find that stat anywhere.

Ciao

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okinawa is basically a more tropical/more scenic version of newfoundland. they both speak in broken versions of their languages, which no one can understand. they're both poor and economically depressed. i wonder if newfoundland has any consulates.

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Japan has held Okinawa as a possession since the early 1600s.

Well, yes, the Satsuma clan forcibly took the islands in 1609 and enslaved the people. That they were able to hold the islands for so long doesn't mean that they have any moral right to continue to exploit the Okinawans.

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Oh, those who do not like the consul general don't like the way he talks either?! Wow! Newsflash!! I bet those who do like him also like the way he talks...(I'd roll my eyes here if I could). You sure are a master logician...not.

However hard of a time you have believing the economic stats, they are acknowledged by both Japanese and American politicians and academics who work on these issues. The NK problem is nationwide, and has nothing to do with Okinawa specifically. Just a cheap gambit for a losing argument.

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I does not seem to me that this "bonehead" was trying to make a statement about Ryukyu historical occurences or a personal statement about the doused gentleman, but rather the prevailing thought in Okinawa and other places the US finds itself..."get out" It is the price to be paid whenever you are percieved as less than a guest and a bet meddlesume in the daily lives of your host. It would be the case in your own home, I'm sure.

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forgive the typos "It", "bit"

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Oh, better proof read next time..."was not" is what was meant

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