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Tell Me, Please: Where is My Father?

Date Posted: 2000-01-22

"This is the second time that I have been looking for my father, and this would be the last chance for me." Says one middle-aged woman.

Her name is Junko Fukuhara. She is now looking for her real father, who is American. After the World War II, there were a lot of children whose fathers were American military men and mothers were Okinawan.

Unless their parents completed their marriage procedures in time, their fathers had to go back to the States, it was difficult - if not impossible - for them to be married officially. Fukuhara-San is a good example of such a case, and she is what is called “AmarAgian” or Amerasian.

Junko was born in 1956 in Chibana in Okinawa. Her mother , Toyoko Asato, gave birth to her all alone, not knowing her family. However, Toyoko died at 27 of a disease.

After her mother's death, Fukuhara-San was found by the owner of the apartment where her mother and Junko used to live. Then the owner told Junko' grandmother that Toyoko-San was dead, leaving her child behind. Fukuhara-San has been raised by her grandmother since then.

In retrospect, Junko says, "As a kid, my grandma used to tell the neighbors that I was not her grandchild but her friend's child. Everytime I heard this, I could not help crying out."

She says she also suffered a lot of difficulties when she was young. She was often bullied by her friends on the grounds that Japan lost the war because of enemy America. So they often shouted to Junko, "Get out of here! Yankee!" Now, Junko is searching for her birth father, the very one that she has never met. The only things she knows is that her father sent several letters, money and a few pictures to her mother. According to Junko's grandmother, her father and mother promised that they would get married. However, her father was in the military, and he had to leave Okinawa before they ever completed their marriage procedure. At first, they were able to maintain contact with each other, but after her mother's death, it did not work well.

When Junko was in junior high school, she found one of her father's letters for the first time. She has had these letters until recently, some of which are missing now. She can talk about her father's character and other traits, based on her grandmother's memory, letters and pictures. Her father's name is Jerry Christopher, but could also be known as Gerard Chorister . He is short, compared to the average American. One of his distinctive physical traits is that he lost the little finger on one hand when he was living in the Philippines.

Her father came to Okinawa and went to Ordnance School in Serikyaku. Junko has a picture of her father which was taken there. Then her father and mother met one another and fell in love. In order to find her father, she did whatever she could do. For instance, she called TV programs searching for people. She called the American Consulate and the Embassy in Tokyo. But, both places could not help her in her search.

First, she went into a state of depression over this reality and felt like giving up. However, the decision to hold the G8 Summit in Okinawa made Junko just more determined than ever to search for her father. She says, "The reason why I am looking for my father is simply because I would like to see my father. That's it!"

Another hopeful Amerasian, Kiyomi Shimamoto is also looking for her father. Kiyomi was born in Kushi, Henoko in 1961. Her father, one Harrison Eugene Mullen, and her mother, Shizu Mashiki used to work at camp Schwab. Harrison was from a Spanish-American family living in Missile, America. He is a twin. His military immatriculation number was 1855961. Harrison and Shizu got engaged and they were waiting to get married until 1960. In order to complete their marriage documents, Harrison asked his executive to extend his stay in Okinawa for two weeks.

However, his demand was rejected, so he got very furious about it and consequently lost his rank to become FMN. After that, Harrison was in California. He sent letters to his future wife, including the documents required for their marriage, the certification of birth and a letter of approval written by Harrison's parents. Unfortunately, they never got to be married officially. As time passed by, Shizu married an Okinawan man. Shizu's new husband loves his step child, Kiyomi. Now, Kiyomi is married with six children.

However, she really wanted to see her American father. Fortunately, she was able to find her father a couple of weeks ago, thanks to her family and other supporters. But she has not been able to establish contact with her father yet. Once, when Kiyomi was upset over the difficulties related to the search for her father, she said, "There are lots of Amerasians who would like to find their real parents, but we do not know what to do and where we should go."

Contribution by Sachie Oyada, Okinawa.

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