Posted May. 09, 2017 07:18,
Updated May. 09, 2017 07:23
Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command in Hawaii, is a Japanese American. His small but sturdy physique reminds us of a Japanese samurai. Born to a well-heeled family in Kobe, Japan, his mother took refuge at her aunt’s home in Yokohama during the Pacific War. She met and got married to Harry’s father who was the U.S. Navy’s senior chief petty officer in the early 1950s. Harry’s father participated in the Korean War as well.
Born in Yokosuka in 1956, Harris moved to a small village in the southern state of Tennessee in the U.S. when young. His mother, who worked at a farm that had no electricity or running water, endured tough working environment there. She did not teach her son the Japanese language at all. It was the time when Americans had strong hostility towards Japan due to the Pacific War that broke out after the Japanese military’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The mother told Harris to take pride in having two heritages, but strongly instructed him not to reveal hints of a person with Japanese heritage.
When Harris joined the U.S. Naval Academy, his mother burst into tears out of joy. After graduation, he participated in missions in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea as a Navy pilot and achieved 4,400 hours of flight. President Barack Obama, who sought to keep China at bay through his ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy, appointed Harris as the commander of the Pacific Fleet in October 2013 and the commander of the Pacific Command in September 2014. Harris was the first Asian American to become a full general.
The Kyoto News Agency of Japan reported that China demanded the U.S. sack Commander Harris in return for its pressure on North Korea. The state-run Global Times of China called the reporting absurd, but admitted that it is true the Chinese dislike Harris. When this reporter met with Harris at the Pacific Command in the spring last year, the commander said, “North Korea and the South China Sea are the biggest threats in the Asia Pacific,” while displaying a world map showcasing U.S. fleets positioned around the world.” He added “It is my mission to protect U.S. interests.” China, which is openly revealing its ambition to achieve ‘oceanic rise’ in the South China Sea, may as well find it bothersome to see Commander Harris, a ‘Japanese American’ who is blocking Beijing’s strides by deploying aircraft carriers at various locations.