US Consul General’s Remark: Glimpses of an Occupier Mindset

U.S. Consul General Alfred Magleby spewed a remark that cannot be overlooked. This remark further demonstrates the deep-seated occupier mindset towards Okinawa within the ranks of U.S. diplomats.

It is reported that Magleby, in remarks toward Satoko Norimatsu, the director of the peace group Peace Philosophy Center, and [some of its] members, stated that “the number of protesters [to a new military base] in Okinawa can be zero or 100 — productive dialogue isn’t possible.”* The Canadian-based Peace Philosophy Center had visited the area in order to submit signatures from foreign experts endorsing a declaration to oppose the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Base to Henoko.

This displays a strange mindset on the part of Magleby. What the majority of Okinawans want is the earliest possible dissolution of the discriminatory burden of military bases, bases in which approximately 74 percent of the U.S. military forces and facilities in Japan are concentrated into 0.6 percent of Japanese territory. The people forcing this military burden on a citizenry that opposes it are saying, “You need to change your way of looking at this.” It’s completely absurd.

With regards to the issue of Futenma, Okinawans fear the functional enhancement of U.S. military that will accompany the move. And 80 percent are opposed to plans to fill in a resource-abundant sea area that is home to many dugongs. Many are also opposed to stationing U.S. marines — though it is worth noting the overall numbers of marines will decrease. However, besides [installations for] marines, Okinawa already has great numbers of U.S. air force, navy and army installations, on top of which there are extremely large aerial and naval military exercise areas. Looking at all this, don’t the couple of requests by Okinawans regarding the return of Futenma and the withdrawal of Osprey aircraft seem small? Talking about these things as if they are excessive demands is vicious word manipulation.

Magleby also stated, “Okinawa and Nago City should cooperate for the national defense.”* The side forcing a burden is asking people suffering the burden to cooperate even more. The viewpoint of current U.S diplomats hasn’t changed at all from the U.S. high commissioners who despotically ruled Okinawa before its controlled return in 1972, has it?

Two years ago, Magleby said in the news conference for his assumption of post that the Futenma base was “not so dangerous.”* He apologized for the remark afterwards. His most recent comment probably was made in frustration towards the tie-ups surrounding relocation of the base, but that does not excuse it.

Kevin Maher, who served as consul general in Okinawa from 2006 to 2009, reportedly made discriminatory comments such as, Okinawans are masters of “manipulation and distortion.” These types of comments make you fear deeply that the U.S.’s high-ranking diplomats all share this way of thinking in their policy towards Japan.

This paper wants U.S. diplomats to be more conscious of their roles as diplomats for a superpower that respects freedom, democracy and human rights. Rejecting prejudice, using an open mind to listen to what Okinawans are seeking and releasing accurate information — these are the job duties that U.S. diplomats in Okinawa are expected to perform.

*Editor’s note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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