Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Saturday dismissed the criticisms that followed his using “konnichiwa” to a greet a congresswoman with Japanese ancestry.
“How could ever saying ‘Good morning’ be bad?” Zinke told reporters, according to the Arizona Republic.
The interior secretary made the remark to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) during a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee Thursday, just after she finished telling the story of her two grandfathers’ interment during World War II. Hanabusa had pressed Zinke to protect funding for a National Park Service program aimed at researching and preserving historical internment sites.
“Oh, konnichiwa,” Zinke began in response to Hanabusa.
“I think it’s still ‘ohayo gozaimasu,’ but that’s okay,” she replied, specifying the Japanese greeting used in the morning, rather than in the afternoon.
Hanabusa noted later that “no one else was greeted in their ancestral language,” and that she understood “this is precisely why Japanese Americans were treated as they were more than 75 years ago. It is racial stereotyping.”