In an appearance on a Japanese rightist TV network last month, a senior official with the U.S. military branded anti-base demonstrations in Okinawa as "hate speech."

Robert Eldridge, deputy assistant chief of staff of government and external affairs for the U.S. Marine Corps, made the comments in Japanese during a show on the Okinawa branch of Channel Sakura on Jan. 8. While discussing what he called the unpleasant experiences encountered by some Americans in Okinawa, he explained to the presenter, "As you know, near Futenma there are people (committing) many kinds of hate speech."

Eldridge's comments were apparently aimed at residents engaged in demonstrations against the unpopular Futenma Marine Corps base in the city of Ginowan.