Senate

Duckworth on Zinke’s improper use of Japanese: ‘Racism is not ok’

Greg Nash

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) offered a condemnation of racism for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday after he responded in Japanese to a lawmaker’s question about funding historical sites memorializing Japanese internment camps.

“Nope. Racism is not ok,” Duckworth tweeted, posting a news article about the exchange between Zinke and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii).

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Hanabusa asked Zinke during a budget hearing for the Interior Department on Thursday whether he would ensure funding for a grant program, known as the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant, which seeks to preserve the history of World War II-era Japanese internment camps.

“Konnichiwa,” Zinke replied, using a Japanese greeting commonly used to express “good afternoon.”

“I think it’s still ‘ohayo gozaimasu,’ but that’s okay,” Hanabusa said, using the Japanese phrase for “good morning.”

Zinke ultimately told Hanabusa he would look into the funding, saying “it is important” to preserve such sites.

The exchange also drew the ire of Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who slammed Zinke for acting “flippant” and “juvenile” in his response to Hanabusa’s question.

“The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans is no laughing matter, @SecretaryZinke. What you thought was a clever response to @RepHanabusa was flippant & juvenile,” Hirono wrote in Twitter.

 

Tags Colleen Hanabusa Mazie Hirono Ryan Zinke Tammy Duckworth
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