I was researching brown babies in Japan and I found some incredibly fascinating facts.
First, I found tons of old Ebony and Jet pictures and articles abhoring the fact that many of these half-Japanese, half Black children were being underfed in orphanages and teased mercilessly for being half-blooded Americans
There were many "Brown Babies" left over Germany and Europe, but you don't hear too much about "Brown Babies" in Japan and how incredibly difficult their lives must have been. Of course, the U.S. millitary and government's official policy was "not to intervene". The U.S. state department broke down some of the barriers to African American couples wanting to adopt these orphans, but only a few were able to provide homes for these children. You look into these children's eyes and just are longing to know what happened to these poor babies. Did they get adopted? Did they stay in Japan? Did they try and find their fathers or their fathers' families? Do they STILL live in Japan to this day?
Then I found some slightly happier stories. Against all odds and discriminatory policies, some children were adopted. Below is the story of Emiko Althea Mae King who was adopted by a single mother in Charleston, West Virginia.
My favorite picture is the one of a Japanese couple who adopted a Brown baby, Ruri-chan, whose father drowned while trying to save a friend. She is adorned in a Kimono as her beautifully kinky hair adorns her head. The smile on her adoptive parents face as they look on their new daughter is just heartwarming and you know she must've had an interesting life.
Another Ebony search led me to the story of Michi Morie, a Japanese Brown Baby who, as a teenager, was vying to represent Japan in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics in track.
I love this article because she is Black yet Japanese and is vying to represent Japan as a biracial child of a Black GI. It's fascinating because you see her life as a fully integrated Japanese young woman, adorned in her Japanese School Girl outfit, hanging with friends, and living with her Japanese mother and grandmother. I wonder what became of her and if she made it. I hope she did because what a fascinating story (*cough* underdog sports movie) that would be. As the 1968 Olympics was the sight of the famous raising of the Black Power fist, how fascinating that would be to see the dichotomy of identity this woman holds. Further Google searches revealed nothing but it makes you want to do research on what became of these children.
And finally, the story of the plight of these children was told in an award winning 1959 Japanese film called
"Kiku and Isamu" by director Tadashi Imai.
This controversial film was unyielding in the showing the prejudice Brown Babies in Japan faced in post-war Japan. Kiku and Isamu are brother and sister growing up with their maternal grandmother as the children of a Japanese prostitute and a Black GI soldier. With the prospect that one of them may be adopted to a Black family in America, they fight to try and stay together. This film one numerous awards, as well as "Best Japanese Film of 1959" and tops some of the "Best 100 Films of Japan" lists. The 1960
article documents the search for the young actors who would play these roles that called attention to theirs and thousands of brown babies mistreatment. I literally spent two hours searching for at least a trailer for this movie, but alas no success. Apparently it came out on DVD in Japan but no luck for American fans. I am dying to see this; perhaps my Japanese department might have it or can help procure it.
I will write more next time pertaining to the pre-WWII history between Blacks and Japanese, including the fact that Black support for Japan was high before WWII as they were the only non-white nation to be a member of the League of Nations and they defeated Russia in the 1905 Russo-Japan War. This resulted in communication and support between Black intellectuals such as W.E.B. DuBois and Tokyo, and rumors of Ethiopia and Japan's Royal Families marrying to form an alliance of two non-White nations resisting European colonialism. But I shall leave you with this tantalizing statistic of the day: "Right after Pearl Harbor, one-half of Negroes interviewed told black interviewers that they would be better off, or at least no worse off, under Japanese rule". I'll write more later