Love Letters Going over the sea


      There was an interesting feature program when I was watching a TV news show named Premier A last night. That was about a story of a translator and love letters he translated for his clients.

     The translator’s name is Tetsu Nakama. He has run a translation office in Okinawa since in 1950’s. He is now 73 years old.

     As you know, Okinawa had been occupied by the U.S after the World War II until 1972. Still now U.S Forces are there, but especially in 1960’s and ‘70’s they acted as an important base which sent soldiers and military supplies to Vietnam.

     Anyone must feel restless when they are supposed to be sent a battlefield in the near future. Many soldiers must have spent uneasy days in Okinawa at that time. It’s no wonder that those soldiers fell in love with Japanese girls under such a situation if they found a transitory refuge in their intimacies.

     Soldiers who had to go to Vietnam and might die there and girls who comforted them by broken English…It seems that most of the couples couldn’t live together happily after the war…

     Mr. Tetsu Nakama has kept on encouraging those couples and their fruits of their love in Okinawa. In ‘60’s most of the girls couldn’t read and write English. That’s why they asked Mr. Nakama to read their boyfriends’ love letters from the front and to write the replies.

     According to Mr. Nakama, he didn’t know how to write love letters in English first, but learned through the U.S soldiers’ love letters. He said,  “I think it’s the most difficult to write love letters in any languages. But I would like to have conveyed the girls’ feelings to their boyfriends in the battlefield. I was sad when I had to tell them about the death in the battle of their boyfriends. Since I couldn’t read aloud in front of them, I used to pass letters later after translating into Japanese.”

     Until the beginning of 1980, it was not rare that children between Japanese girls and U.S soldiers had no human rights. Under the law at that time, if the father was American, the child couldn’t have Japanese nationality. That’s why, if the soldier and the Japanese girl divorced, the child lost the right to live with his or her mother in Japan or couldn’t go to school or couldn’t get any social welfare. So Mr. Nakama obtained the qualification for notary public and has helped many people in Okinawa with not only translation but also procedure.

     Still now there are many problems between U.S forces and the locals in Okinawa and many girls often become the weak in this situation. Mr. Nakama is hacking away with his old typewriter wishing for peace today too.


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