Flippant, juvenile… those are some of the comments coming for Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke after his address to Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.
Hanabusa was questioning Zinke about funding for the grants program that oversees the sites of former Japanese internment camps.
President Trump has proposed to cut the grant program that most recently has helped pay for work the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is doing to create a database of the Japanese detained in Hawaii during World War II.
Zinke tried to speak in Japanese to her after she talked about her grandparents being interned.
Zinke responded by saying konnichiwa which is normally used in the afternoon at the morning conference.
Hanabusa corrected him that it was still the morning so the correct greeting would be ohayo gozaimasu.
Hanabusa: “I sit before you, the granddaughter of two internees. Both of my grandfathers were interned during WWII. One in Santa Fe, New Mexico and one in a place called Honouliuli in Hawaii, which people did not know about. I did not find out about the fact my grandfather was interned on Oahu for the — a lot of the wartime — until he was 80-something years old because they did not speak about it. And that’s been the problem that many face — the Japanese-Americans that served in WWII, as you know, probably the most decorated unit to date, in the history of the military and the 100th and the 442nd, as well as those who were interned just did not speak about it.”
“I believe that it is essential that we as a nation recognize our darkest moments so that we don’t have them repeat again. So, Mr. Secretary, I’d like to know, even with the President’s zeroing it out are you committed to continue the grant programs that are identified, I believe as the Japanese-American Confinement Sites Grants Program, which were funded in 2017. Will we see a funded again in 2018?”
Zinke: “Oh, konnichiwa”
Hanabusa: “I think it’s still ‘ohayo gozaimasu,’ but that’s OK.”
Zinke: “To your point, the priorities were set that fix the Park Service, fix our stuff first. And this program have been caught up in that. I read about it this morning, and so I will look into it. I… I’m committed and understand to making sure the importance of this and I agree with you.”