OSAKA -- Gov. Ichiro Matsui posted a tweet on Oct. 19 that effectively defended prefectural police officers who called anti-U.S. base protesters in Okinawa Prefecture "dojin," a derogatory term for aborigines, and other names, adding fuel to the already heated controversy over the incident.
Gov. Matsui stated on his official Twitter account that he saw online video footage capturing the scenes in question from the incident -- in which two male Osaka Prefectural Police officers in their 20s hurled verbal abuse at protesters against the construction of helipads at the U.S. forces' Northern Training Area in the Higashi and Kunigami villages in Okinawa Prefecture, saying, "You idiots. Aborigines," among other slurs. The officers were part of riot police squads dispatched there to maintain security.
"Even if the expressions they used were inappropriate, the video showed that (Osaka) prefectural police officers were earnestly carrying out their duties under orders," Gov. Matsui tweeted.
Furthermore, his tweet went on to tell the officers, "I appreciate your hard work during your duty trip."
The discriminatory remarks by the Osaka officers have infuriated central and local government officials. Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said on Oct. 19, "It is an outrageous act that is utterly unacceptable. I feel strong resentment." Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference, "It is such a shame that the officers made inappropriate remarks." He added, "We have received requests from local villages to carry out the planned reversion (of about half of the Northern Training Area) as soon as possible."