US fires diplomat over Okinawa slurs

The United States on Thursday sacked a senior diplomat who infuriated Japan with reported slurs against the people of Okinawa island, which has reluctantly hosted American forces since World War II.

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.

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