Second-generation Okinawan Filipina reunited with her father in Okinawa

Second-generation Okinawan Filipina reunited with her father in Okinawa

At Naha Airport in the evening of August 6 Pacita Okuma (right), one of the many Japanese children left behind in the Philippines at the end of World War II, is reunited with her father for the first time in 66 years.


August 7, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

Five Okinawan children left behind in the Philippines in the chaotic times at the end of World War II visited Okinawa on August 8. The three women among them have fathers from Okinawa, and on this occasion, 69 year-old Pacita Okuma, actually met her father, 97-year-old Maizo Okuma, who resides in Nakata, Izena Village, for the first time in 66 years.
The father and daughter met two days later than planned because of delays caused by Typhoon No.9.
Pacita wiped her eyes, saying joyfully, “I have been looking forward to meeting my father for such a long time.”

The Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center and the Nippon Foundation have facilitated six return visits to Japan by Japanese-Filipino children left behind in the Philippines at the end of World War II, but this is the first time in which a close family reunion has resulted.
The group is scheduled to participate in an exchange gathering in Naha City on August 7 before going to Tokyo the next day and returning to the Philippines on August 10.

Sixty six-year old Inocencia Arakaki (her Japanese name is Yoneko Arakaki) and 68-year-old Carmelita Toyama (Japanese name – Yaiko Toyama) accompanied Pacita to Okinawa.

Maizo Okuma worked in the fishing industry in the Philippines, where he married a local woman and had two children, Pacita and her brother, now deceased. However, he joined the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II and was deported to Japan after the war, where he remarried a Japanese woman.
Pacita said she remembered that her father was involved in fishing.
Fifty-seven year-old Mamoru Okuma, the eldest son of Maizo Okuma said that his father had talked about his daughter, whom he left behind in Philippines, for many years and had said that he wanted to meet her.

When she met her father in his wheelchair at Naha Airport, Pacita wrapped him in her arms as tears filled her eyes.
Okuma patted his daughter on the shoulder as he also rejoiced over their reunion, saying, “You’ve put on weight and got gray hair.”
The father and daughter switched between Tagalog and Japanese as they conversed.
Mamoru Okuma said, “I wanted to bring my father’s wish true. When they are together, I do think that Pacita resembles him.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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