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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Japanese Bride In America

What I have for you here today is an interesting mini movie made in 1952 called Japanese Bride In America, created by the US Army, about a young American soldier returning to Cleveland, Ohio a few years after WWII with his new, Japanese bride.

While I had thought about the difficulties of such an endeavor when I fell in love with Noboko, and again for my friend Matthew and his wife Takako, I felt that such issues as loneliness in Japan for when we first arrived in Japan with the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme would be offset by the fact that each was now two hearts beating as one.

And, while there is some truth to the fact that sometimes Japan can be 'racist' towards foreigners, I was also aware that both Canada and the U.s. can be racist as well... just not among our own particular families.

I had the pleasure of meeting Matthew's parents and sister when they came to visit Matthew. Salt of the Earth - all of them... and not surprising considering Matthew.

Noboko was not in the picture yet when my mom visited, but she did talk to her over the phone a few times... Noboko nervous as a newborn deer... but smiling all the while as my mom chatted with her. My mom knew how much Noboko meant to me, and there wasn't a racist bone in that woman's soul - she raised me right.

Still... I was aware at just how difficult for anyone to come to another country and try and set-up a new life.

I had done it, as did Matthew. Sure we didn't know we might want to stay forever or even longer than one year, but both of us were prepared to do so if that's what it took.

My own parents left India after marriage and moved to England where I was born before settling in Canada, where I grew up, and aside from the three years in Japan (and England), where I have always lived.

While Noboko was too afraid to take that giant leap across the waters with me... or even to be with me, Matthew and Takako were not.

For them, at least, there was a huge element of time.

World War II had ended over 50 years previous... but for the Japanese bride in this movie, time was recent.

Race relations in Japan were still a bit sticky in the U.S. amongst Blacks and Whites, and heck, anyone not White, the movie purports to show that not everyone is angry or racist, and is actually more understanding than one might think.

As for this post WWII movie, you might wonder why Japanese women would be remotely interested in American military men... the men who helped defeat their country...

You could assume it was admiration for the soldiers who could defeat their God-like emperor and soldiers... but no.

Japan was handled very well by General Douglas MacArthur and the US Allied Forces who took over the day-to-day running of the country in the years immediately after the war.

Not only did the Allied Forces re-write Japan's Constitution - it's still in use today - but that Constitution didn't mire the country in stupidity like the League of Nations did to Germany after WWI, plunging the country into hyper inflation where it was cheaper wipe one's butt with a one million mark bill than to to purchase toilet paper.

No... America helped rebuild the Japanese economy, which allowed it to make reparation payments to other countries without going completely into debt.

As well, the new constitution gave rights to women in Japan... something they did not have before.

Some 60,000 American servicemen married Japanese women while in Japan... and all were promised that they could bring their wife and kids back to the U.S. free of charge.

When the United States of America Congress passed the War Brides Act of 1945, it allowed those GIs to bring the German or Italian families back... a number that was on top of existing immigration quotas.

However, because there still was some racism involved, the servicemen who married Japanese women were unable to bring their families back until the 1952 Immigration Act was passed.

It is estimated that of the 300,000 foreign war brides that entered the United States, some 50,000 of them were Japanese.

There might actually be double that number only because it is believed that another 50,000 American military men stayed in Japan, while a number of other marriages simply were not recognized by the United States or Japan.

This 1952 movie, was created as a means to try and soften the blow for Americans at home who might come across one of their own military men married to the former enemy, in this case, a Japanese woman.

Despite the dour look of the American mother-in-law below... let me put your mind at ease that she is only contemplating how to get her Japanese daughter-in-law to relax and become part of the family.

One of the more interesting things I noticed in the movie, was how the Japanese woman Miwako holds her pencil when she writes to her brother... so upright, as though it was a paint brush used in the Japanese calligraphy writing style known as shodō (書道).

Man... I wish they had something like this that Noboko's father could have seen. For those who have not read my life story contained within this blog, Noboko was unable to defy her father, choosing instead to let me go back to Canada alone.

I talk/write like that was a huge mistake... but really, it's just life, and while I look back at Japan through this blog, and sometimes wonder what my life would have been like, I have few regrets... zero about Japan.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

2 comments:

  1. Straight off the plane looking totally fresh with finely pressed suits - wow!

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    1. Reality? Sorta. I looked like crap when I landed in Japan the first time, because I was wearing a suit (actually, I had the jacket tucked under the seat, and put it on as we exited... it wasn't pressed, but I still looked okay... just hot), and it was 37C+ on the tarmac at Narita. Going home, I was dressed in a more relaxed way so as to give the Border Security and their dogs better access to sniffing out the non-contraband I was I was carrying.

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