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Former consul general’s remarks, actions won’t go away

Date Posted: 2011-04-21

Weeks after Kevin Maher, the former consul general at the American Consulate Naha resigned from the U.S. State Department while protesting his innocence over making remarks that called Okinawans “lazy” and “greedy”, the furor lingers.

Maher gave up his career with the State Department last month, a couple weeks after being sacked by superiors from his position as Chief of the Japan Desk in Washington. The firing came after reports of Maher’s remarks last December to a group of American University students came to light. Students attending the lecture stand by their statements Maher called Okinawans “masters of deceit and manipulation”, and “lazy” as they pumped the central government in Tokyo for more money.

Student accounts of the supposedly off-the-record lecture say Maher explained Okinawans were using Tokyo’s guilt over the prefecture having to bear the burden of U.S. military installations as a means of getting more subsidies and other moneys from the central government. Maher’s denied the charges, calling them a “fabrication” and having “no credibility”.

An assistant professor at American University who says he was at the lecture and heard the comments with his own ears, is calling it “unbelievable” that Maher denies the charges. David Vine says he took notes of the session and that Maher did, indeed, make the statements attributed to others attending. "I took detailed and copious notes during the presentation made by Mr. Maher, and I can confirm the accuracy and substance of the students' report as well as the specific language that has been attributed to Mr. Maher," the professor said this week.

Vine’s notes recall that Maher said “the Japanese people as a whole have an "extortionist culture," and the "Okinawans. . .are masters at this." Maher, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, passes the entire episode off as inaccurate, and stands by his statement he made no controversial statements.

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