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American Consul General splashed with hot coffee

Date Posted: 2009-04-09

A 43-year-old Okinawa man is in jail after abruptly standing up at a Nishihara area coffee shop and hurling a cup of steaming hot coffee onto Kevin Maher, the U.S. Consul General.

Maher was a guest in the coffee shop when the stranger approached him, shouted “Get away from Okinawa” and splashed the coffee on the consul general’s clothes. The man, Kazuo Yamamoto, then struck Maher in the chest. Maher and members of his staff grabbed Yamamoto and detained him until police arrived.

The Consul General tried to downplay the incident, refusing to comment except to say “these things happen everywhere in the world; there are violent people everywhere, but this kind of violent action has never been admitted and forgiven.” Maher says “most Okinawans are very friendly, and treat me in a friendly manner,” adding that the incident “will have no impact on my future duties.” The Consul General said he didn’t “think the incident will have any effect on the friendly relationship” between Okinawa and the United States because (Yamamoto) doesn’t represent the people of Okinawa.”

Yamamoto, who was a stranger unknown to Maher, has been charged with assault. He has reportedly told investigators that he was incensed about the recent port call of two U.S. minesweepers to Ishigaki.

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