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Lost brother and sister to reunite after 30 years

Date Posted: 2005-05-19

Modern technology, a compassionate Okinawa newspaper and a lot of luck have become the catalysts for an Okinawan family to close ranks after decades apart.

The realities of Okinawa’s living in the bicultural arena of American service personnel falling in love with local girls, marrying, and then moving away have long been the foundation of sad stories. Departing GI’s often abandoned spouses and children fathered in Okinawa as they headed back stateside after a local tour. Bitter memories often accompanied these incidents.

Today’s love story didn’t evolve quite that way, although it did involve the American guy meeting Okinawan girl, marriage and children. Hiroshi Negami was the older offspring of his mother’s marriage to a GI, and when the time came for the family to move stateside, he chose to stay in Okinawa with relatives. His sister went with mom and dad to the U.S. Negami, now 51 and living in Ginowan, says there was contact for a while, until he received the letter his mother had died more than three decades ago.

Eighteen months ago, Hiroshi was stunned to read an article in a local newspaper telling about an American woman seeking her Okinawan brother. He didn’t quite recognize himself as Minoru Nogami, but thought the name similarities enough to call the newspaper. They shared how a Japanese woman, Nobuko Tanaka, had sent an email to the newspaper asking for help in finding her sister-in-law’s brother.

That November 2003 query led to a meeting with the 33-year-old Tanaka at her family’s home in Osaka. It turned out Margaret, his sister, had been trying to locate Hiroshi, but had no idea how to make it happen. Tanaka, whose family lives in the U.S., and whose brother is Margaret’s husband, began the international search.

Now that they’ve found each other, they’re working on communication. Margaret is an American who speaks no Japanese, while her brother Hiroshi is an Okinawan who speaks no English. Tanaka is the liaison, but says she’s moving them past the translation stages to a meeting.
A face-to-face reunion is schedule for Margaret and Hiroshi soon.

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