Toshiko Kinjo looking for her sister separated in Saipan during war

Toshiko Kinjo looking for her sister separated in Saipan during war

Wishing to reunite with her sister, Etsuko, Toshiko Kinjo commented, "If we can reunite again, I want to give her a big hug.”

December 25, 2015 Takahiro Miyagi of Ryukyu Shimpo,

Eighty-one-year-old WWII survivor Toshiko Kinjo is looking for her younger sister who was separated from her at an internment camp in Saipan in 1944. Kinjo is a director of a preschool in Nishihara Town, and her sister, Etsuko, was one year old when they were last together in Saipan. Kinjo said while she was working at preschools and kindergartens over the past 20 years people had asked her if she had taught at junior high schools. Kinjo thought, “They might have thought I’m my sister.”

Kinjo said, “I thought my sister might have passed away, but it is possible that she made it back to Okinawa as an orphan, was adopted by someone and lived with a different name. If I could see her again, I want to hug her tight for my mother and father, which she missed out on for 71 years, and apologize for not being able to find her.” Kinjo seeks any information related to a person who looks like her.

Kinjo is the oldest of five siblings. They moved around a mountainous area in Saipan for about one year, losing their mother, father, and a younger brother. Kinjo herself suffered malnutrition, but she survived and later reunited with her once-separated younger brother and sister at the internment camp. She was told that US soldiers took the youngest sister, Etsuko, to an orphanage. Kinjo could not look for her youngest sister due to the limited time and mobility during the year in the camp.

After the siblings returned to Okinawa on a US ship, they were taken care of by their relatives in Nago City. Etsuko, the youngest sister, has been missing ever since and is recorded as dead on a census register.

About 20 years ago, someone who she just met at a church asked Kinjo if her sister is a teacher. Around the same time, two young females ran to her and asked, “You taught Japanese at Nago Junior High School, didn’t you?” Kinjo thought at the time, “Some other person must look like me”. But about two years ago someone at a supermarket in Shuri, Naha City asked Kinjo, “Have you taught at Kamihara Junior High School?” Kinjo visited Nago Junior High School and Kamihara Junior High School to look at photos of the students from an approximate time the other teacher possibly worked there. She could not find anyone who looked like her sister.

Kinjo commented, “The war is a tragic memory which we could not even talk about among the siblings, but I do not want to have regrets. If my sister was able to return to Okinawa thanks to kind people and was raised to become a teacher, I would like to thank the adopted parents.”

If you have any information related to Toshiko Kinjo’s sister, please contact Ryukyu Shimpo at 098-865-5158.

(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma) 

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