by Chris MaGee
Anna Tsuchiya had a rough time when she was growing up. The daughter of a Russian-American father and a Japanese mother the singer, model and actress was often met with confusion by her Japanese classmates. "“At school, many kids were surprised to see my name in katakana," she said at a recent press conference, "My mother told me that the situation for people like me was much harsher in the past." 24-year-old Tsuchiya has learned more about the past that her mother speaks of while narrating the upcoming TV Tokyo documentary "Paradise at the End of the Tunnel” about an orphanage that took in the half-Japanese children of American G.I.s during the American Post-WW2 Occupation. Set up in 1948 by Miki Sawada, the heir to the Mitsubishi Motors Company and daughter of the Japanese U.N. ambassador, the orphanage provided food and shelter for the children as well as teaching them both English and Japanese in hopes that, as Sawada put it, "that they would Serve as a future link between the two nations." It is estimated that there were anywhere from 5,000 to as many as 200,000 children fathered by U.S. soldiers during the years following the end of the war.
For those of us who won't be able to catch the documentary Miki Sawada and her orphanage was the subject of a 1981 book by Elizabeth Anne Hemphill titled "The Least of These: Miki Sawada and Her Children", which is sadly out of print, but it may be available through your local library.
The Anna Tsuchiya narrated documentary "Paradise at the End of the Tunnel" will air on TV Tokyo on March 11th. Thanks to Japan Today for the details on this story.