Investigating the Will of the People – Theodore Life Jr – Japan 2003

Okinawa photo-f6f6ed2c

On location in Okinawa

I was a Fulbright Journalist Scholar in Okinawa, Japan where I researched what I termed the “Will of the Okinawan People” as it related to the US Bases that have been located there since the end of WWII.

My Fulbright fellowship time was very rewarding. I was able to interview very prominent Okinawans, writers, professors and even a former Governor of Okinawa, as well as high ranking US military personnel. I also interviewed ordinary Okinawan citizens, office workers, taxi drivers and students, as well as the lower rank military personnel from the Marine Corp and the Air Force. What emerged was a very complicated picture of coexistence based on decades of interaction. I found that both sides had a dogma about the relationship so as a result, my intended publication of the research – a documentary film, would probably turn out to be a polemic discourse. I did not want to create a film like this, so in my search for a way to share my findings, I happened upon the novella “Cocktail Party” by Tatsuhiro Oshiro. It was written in the late 1960’s and was the first work by an Okinawan to be awarded the Akutagawa Prize. The story of the novel captured the very complicated situation in Okinawa in a way that would allow my research a vehicle for sharing.  With the assistance of Katsunori Yamazato, who was then at the University of the Ryukyus, I collaborated with Mr. Oshiro to produce a contemporary film inspired by his novella.

The movie COCKTAIL PARTY has been awarded many prizes and opened to a sold out audience at the 2016 Okinawan International Film Festival.  Recently Mr. Oshiro passed away and to honor him, we did a special showing of the film at the very same theater where the premier in 2016 was held.

Theodore Life Jr – Fulbright to Japan 2003

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