FILE – In this Sept. 29, 2017, file photo, Minister of the interior Ryan Zinke talks about the Trump-government energy policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
Minister of the interior, Ryan Zinke defended his use of the Japanese greeting “konnichiwa”, in answer to a question from a legislator.
Zinke told reporters on Saturday that the sentence is innocent and harmless.
“How could ever say, ‘good morning’ is bad?”, he said this during his tour to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona.
Zinke took the heat last week, when he said: “konnichiwa” , a Japanese-American Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, questioned him about the funding for the Japanese American solitary confinement sites program.
“We see it funded again in 2018?,” Rep. Hanabusa asked tine last week. “Oh, Konnichiwa,” tine replied, sparking outrage among some lawmakers, civil society groups and the social media perceived that the use of the phrase than to perpetuate negative stereotypes about Japanese Americans.
The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans is not prong to laugh, @Secretary. What you thought was a clever response, @RepHanabusa frivolous & juvenile. pic.twitter.com/8pTkmqBeQb
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) March 15, 2018
“I think it is still” ohayo gozaimasu, “but that’s okay,” Hanabusa corrected prong set with a greeting in the morning.
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., asked tine to apologize for the remark: “prong of comment betray a prejudice that Asian makes you a perpetual foreigner. Intentionally or not, it is offensive. He should apologize.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, also the Minister of the interior criticized.
“The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans is not prong to laugh, @Secretary. What you thought was tweeted a clever response, @RepHanabusa frivolous & young people was,” Hirono.
“How could ever say, ‘good morning’ is bad?”
– The Minister Of The Interior Prong
Hanabusa, in a statement on Saturday with the words, “the real Problem here is that the administration ignored one of the most racist times in American history by defunding the Japanese American solitary confinement sites (JACS) grant program.”
“As a Secretary Zinke chose to address me in Japanese (when no one else was welcomed in their ancestral language), I understood, ‘this is exactly why Japanese Americans were treated like they were more than 75 years ago,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @Lukas mikelionis.