U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy says JFK's life "saved here on Okinawa"
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 00:55
Feb. 12 - U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy says her father, former President John F Kennedy, nearly died on Japan's southern island of Okinawa. Rough Cut (No Reporter Narration)
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy revealed on Wednesday (February 12) her father, President John F. Kennedy, nearly died on Japan's southern island of Okinawa.
At the end of a meeting with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, Kennedy handed over a copy of a visa application she said her father had made during a spell in hospital in Okinawa.
Caroline's father visited Japan once in 1951 with his brother. She told reporters later that he fell ill with a high fever in Japan and was taken to a hospital in Okinawa.
Okinawan governor Hirokazu Nakaima confirmed Kennedy was taken to an army hospital on the island which was still under post-war U.S. occupation at the time.
"I remember hearing that he fell ill during a visit to Asia, and I think it was an army hospital, he was admitted to an American army hospital," Nakaima said.
"Yes, I think he was, they thought he might die, and so his life was saved here on Okinawa. So, an honour to be here and to visit," Kennedy replied.
John F. Kennedy however never visited Japan in the nearly three years that he was president - a sharp contrast to the present, when most presidents visit within months of taking office.
Despite this, President Kennedy was popular, his youth appealing to an economically booming Japan, newly confident as it prepared to host the Summer Olympic Games in 1964.
A state visit was planned for January 1964, and an advance team, including then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk, was in the air en route to Tokyo for talks when Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. The plane turned around in mid-Pacific and headed back.
The newly-appointed U.S. ambassador is in Okinawa to build support for a controversial plan backed by the U.S. government that would see a Marine Corps base in Futenma moved some 50 km (30 miles) north to Henoko.
Activists say that would destroy an area that is home to dugongs, an endangered marine mammal.
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