Zinke Says ‘Konnichiwa’ To Japanese-American Congresswoman

UNITED STATES - MARCH 13: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke prepares to testify before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on the department's FY2019 budget on March 13, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group

During a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Thursday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke greeted a fourth-generation Japanese-American congresswoman by saying “konnichiwa,” a traditional midday Japanese greeting.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) on Thursday asked Zinke if he was planning to commit to funding a National Park Service program this year, that gives out grants toward the preservation of confinement camps that Japanese-Americans were held in during World War II. Hanabusa herself is a granddaughter of two internees who were held during World War II.

“Are you committed to continue to grant programs that are identified, I believe, as the Japanese American Confinement Sites grants program which were funded in 2017? Will we see them funded again in 2018?” Hanabusa asked.

“Oh, konnichiwa,” Zinke said.

Hanabusa then corrected Zinke, saying she thought it was still morning— “I think it’s still ‘ohayo gozaimasu,’ but that‘s OK,” she said, referencing the phrase for “good morning.”

Zinke paused and then suggested he would fund the program and promised to work with Hanabusa on the issue. 

Watch a clip of the exchange below:

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