Biographical Essays

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Important American, Japanese, and Okinawan figures
involved in foreign policy affecting
U.S. rule of Okinawa

Dean Acheson - U.S. Secretary of State from 1949 to 1953. He appointed John Foster Dulles to negotiate the Japanese peace treaty, despite personal contempt for him. Acheson also helped implemented the post-war base system in the Pacific, in which Okinawa played a critical role. He died in 1971.

Aichi Kiichi - Japanese Foreign Minister from 1968 to 1972. A close political supporter of Sato, Aichi supervised negotiations leading up to the reversion agreement in 1969. He also oversaw the technical negotiations from 1969-71. He died in 1973.

John Allison - U.S. ambassador to Japan from 1953 to 1956. A Japanese specialist who started his career in Tokyo as a language officer, Allison served as the primary assistant to John Foster Dulles in the negotiations of the Japanese peace treaty. When Dulles became Secretary of State, he gave Allison the Tokyo assignment. Allison helped publicize the concept of "residual sovereignty" in Japan, and favored the return of the Anami Oshima island group in 1953. He served as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia and Czechoslovakia after leaving Tokyo. He retired from the foreign service in 1959, and taught at the University of Hawaii afterwards. He died in 1978.

Gen. of the Army Omar Bradley - First Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1950 to 1953. He led JCS opposition to a Japanese peace treaty in 1950 and 1951. He retired from active military service in 1953, and died in 1981.

Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. - Commanding general of the U.S. Tenth Army during the battle of Okinawa. He was killed by Japanese artillery shells on June 18, 1945.

Harry F. Byrd, Jr. - U.S. Senator from Virginia who opposed reversion. He led a successful effort to have the agreement submitted to the Senate as a treaty. Although successful in obtaining a treaty submission, Byrd failed to block the treaty. The Senate voted 84-6 to confirm. He retired from the Senate in 1983.

Lt. Gen. Paul W. Caraway - High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands from 1961 to 1964. The son of two U.S. senators and a military aide to Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, Caraway never held a combat command during his military career. He arrived in Japan wearing a third star, even though the Senate had not yet confirmed his promotion. During his tenure on the island, he successful blocked White House and State Department efforts to increase Okinawan autonomy and Japanese economic aid, believing these initiatives would erode U.S. control of the island. He retired from the Army in 1964. He lived out his retirement in Washington, D.C. He died in 1984.

Lt. Gen. Cho Isamu - Chief-of-Staff of the Japanese Thirty-Second Army during the battle for Okinawa. He favored offensive tactics in the battle, which hurt the Japanese effort. He committed suicide on June 22, 1945.

Brig. Gen. William E. Crist - General commanding military government operations during the battle of Okinawa. He became the model for the character Col. Wainwright Purdy III in The Teahouse of the August Moon. He was demoted to colonel in 1946, but regained his rank in 1951. He retired from the Army in 1955, and died in 1958.

John Foster Dulles - negotiator of the Japanese peace treaty of 1951, and U.S. Secretary of State from 1953-1959. As treaty negotiator, Dulles created the concept of "residual sovereignty," which gave Japan a legal claim to Okinawa. Later as Secretary of State, he helped initiate efforts that seriously considered returning the island to Japan. He died in 1959.

Everett Dirksen - Republican minority leader in the U.S. Senate in 1969. He wrote an essay opposing reversion in his syndicated newspaper column. He died a few weeks later in 1969, before the Senate took action on Okinawa.

Dwight Eisenhower - Chief-of-Staff of the U.S. Army from 1945-1948, and President of the United States from 1953-1961. As Chief-of-Staff, he softened JCS demands for the Ryukyus, although the Army stood to gain the most from its retention. As President he seriously considered returning Okinawa to prevent a break with Japan. He championed a proposal to create base enclaves on the island, and return administrative responsibility to the Japanese. The U.S. Army rejected this idea. In 1960, he visited Okinawa. He died in 1969.

Maj. Gen. Roy Geiger - Commander of the III Amphibious Corps during the battle of Okinawa. With the support of Maj. Gen. John Hodge, he assumed command of the Tenth Army after the death of Lt. Gen. Simon Buckner despite being junior in rank to Maj. Gen. Fred Wallace. He is the only Marine officer to command an army-sized unit in combat. When he died in 1947, Congress posthumously promoted him to General.

Ikeda Hayato - Prime minister of Japan from 1960 to 1964. He met with President John F. Kennedy in 1961, and obtained a pledge from Kennedy to improve social and economic conditions on Okinawa. This promise led to the Kaysen commission, and high aid level requests in the 1960s. Ikeda resigned office due to poor health, and died a year later in 1965.

Louis Johnson - U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1949 and 1950. He was opposed to a Japanese peace treaty and helped the Joint Chiefs battle the efforts of both Douglas MacArthur and the State Department to begin negotiations. President Harry S. Truman forced him to resign in 1950. He died in 1966.

Lyndon Baines Johnson - President of the United States from 1963 to 1969. He appointed U. Alexis Johnson as U.S. ambassador to Japan in 1966. He signed two executive orders that actually increased Okinawan voting rights, and allowed for the direct election of the Chief Executive. In 1967, negotiated the return of the Bonin Island chain with Sato Eisaku, and briefly considered returning Okinawa at that time, as well. He died in 1973.

U. Alexis Johnson - U.S. ambassador to Japan from 1966 to 1969, and undersecretary of state for political affairs from 1969 to 1973. A career foreign service officer, Johnson began his career in Tokyo as a language officer under the leadership and tutelage of Amb. Joseph C. Grew. Interned by the Japanese when war broke out, he advanced rapidly in the foreign service after the conflict ended. He was widely respected in the official Washington community for foreign policy expertise, his willingness to serve administrations of either party, and preference for anonymity. He earned the respect and trust of Lyndon Johnson, and then, Richard Nixon. He helped negotiate the return of the Bonin Islands in 1967 as ambassador, and in the Ryukyu Islands in 1969 as the undersecretary. He retired from the foreign service in 1977, and died in 1997.

Carl Kaysen - Chairman of a presidential commission on Okinawa established in 1961. President John F. Kennedy established the commission to recommend new policies on Okinawa after making a promise to Japanese Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato in June, 1961. Kaysen, a Harvard University economist, serving on the White House staff became the chairman of the commission on the strength of a recommendation by Amb. Edwin Reischauer. Kaysen and the group visited the island in late 1961, and issued a 62-page report, recommending increased levels of economic aide and greater autonomy for Okinawa. Kennedy signed an executive order implementing these changes, which were thwarted by Lt. Gen. Paul Caraway, the high commissioner. Kaysen left Harvard in 1966, accepting a position at Princeton. He returned to Cambridge, accepting a position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He retired in 1990, and now lives in the greater Boston area.

Kishi Nobusuke - Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960. Kishi, the older brother of Sato Eisaku, was a minister in the cabinet of Tojo Hideki when Japan declared war on the U.S. As a result, he was imprisoned during the occupation as a war criminal. Although never convicted, he was purged and prohibited from holding office for a number of years. After the occupation ended, his brother convinced Yoshida Shigeru to let Kishi join the Liberal party. Kishi served in Yoshida's last cabinet, and helped form the new Liberal-Democratic Party. In the late 1950s, he and U.S. Amb. Douglas MacArthur II negotiated a new mutual security treaty. Kishi did not ask that Okinawa be included in this new treaty. A series of riots broke out in Tokyo in 1960 when Kishi tried to force ratification through the Diet. He resigned after he was wounded in an assassination attempt. He died in 1987.

Henry Kissinger - National Security Adviser to President Richard Nixon in 1969. A former Harvard University political scientist, Kissinger led the National Security Council in the formulation of policy on Okinawa. He also helped check military opposition to reversion. He became secretary of state in 1972, and served under Nixon and President Gerald R. Ford until 1977. He lives and works in New York, NY.

Lt. Gen. James Lampert - Last High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands. He successful maintained order on the island despite protests, rallies, and riots against a reversion agreement that preserved the U.S.-Japanese security treaty. He retired from the Army shortly after reversion in 1972. He became a vice president at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in charge of alumni relations and fund raising. He died in 1978.

Gen. of the Army Douglas MacArthur - Supreme Commander for Allied Personnel during the occupation of Japan. MacArthur was a strong advocate of a peace settlement that left Japan unarmed, but gave Okinawa to the U.S. President Harry S. Truman removed MacArthur from his military commands in 1951, forcing him into retirement. He died in 1964.

Douglas MacArthur II - U.S. ambassador to Japan from 1956 to 1961. He was a strong advocate of returning Okinawa to the U.S. and treating Japan with more equality. He negotiated a new security treaty, and made Dulles and Eisenhower seriously consider returning Okinawa to Japan in 1958-59. He then served as ambassador to Belgium, Austria, and Iran, and assistant secretary of state for Congressional relations. He retired from the foreign service in 1972 and died in 1997.

Miki Takeo - Japanese Foreign Minister in 1966 and 1967. He negotiated with U. Alexis Johnson for the return of the Bonin islands. He challenged Sato after the return of the Bonins for the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party and the prime ministership and lost. He was prime minister from 1974 to 1976.

Col. Charles I. Murray - Marine officer commanding military government operations on Okinawa in 1945 and 1946. He supervised efforts to develop Okinawan self-rule during the year the U.S. Navy administered the island. He was promoted to brigadier general as he retired from the Marine Corps in 1948. He died in 1977.

Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz - Comander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet during World War II, and Chief of Naval Operations from 1945 to 1947. The Tenth Army that invaded Okinawa was under his theater command. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Nimitz led efforts to keep the Ryukyus. In 1946, however, he turned over administrative responsibility for the island to the Army. After retiring from active duty, he lived in Berkeley, CA. He died in 1966.

Richard Nixon - President of the United States from 1969 to 1974. He negotiated an agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Sato Eisaku in 1969 to return Okinawa, and oversaw technical negotiations from then until 1972 when the island was actually returned. He resigned office in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal. He died in 1994.

John Patrick - playwright and screen writer. He won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for his stage adoption of The Teahouse of the August Moon, which is set in Okinawa. He also wrote the scripts for film, television, musical versions of Teahouse. He died in 1995.

Melvin Price - U.S. Congressman from Illinois who became an expert on issues involving Okinawa. In 1956, he chaired a special sub-committee that recommended lump-sum payments for land rental, which initiated a crisis over land use. In 1960 he introduced a bill designed to jump start economic aide appropriations. In the 1960s, he successfully worked to increase the ceiling amount. He served in the House until his death in 1988.

Ernie Pyle - Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper columnist. Pyle accompanied Marines landing on the beaches of Okinawa on the first day of the battle. He was accompanying Army troops on Ie Shima, a small island off Okinawa, when he was killed on April 18, 1945. His death focused public attention on the battle.

Edwin Reischauer - U.S. ambassador to Japan from 1961 to 1966. He tried and failed to bring about reversion. After leaving government service, he returned to his academic post at Harvard University. He retired in 1981, and died in 1990.

Walt Rostow - National Security advisor to the President from 1966 to 1969. He conducted negotiations with Wakazumi Kei, Prime Minister Sato's secret emissary in 1967 on the return of the Bonin Islands and the possibly the Ryukyus. He currently lives in Austin, TX, and teaches economics and history at the University of Texas.

Dean Rusk - Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969, second longest tenure in U.S. history. As an Assistant secretary of State in the Truman administration he opposed retaining Okinawa. As the Secretary, he hoped the return of the Bonins would alleviate Japanese public pressure for the return of the Ryukyus until the end of the Vietnam War. After leaving public service, he taught at the University of Georgia School of Law. He died in 1994.

Richard Russell - U.S. Senator from Georgia and chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee during reversion negotiations. When President Lyndon Johnson solicited his advice on making a firm commitment to returning Okinawa, he expressed some reservations. Johnson was unwilling to proceed without his support. Russell died in office in 1971.

Sato Eisaku - Prime Minister of Japan from 1964 to 1972. Sato, the younger brother of Kishi Nobusuke, became an early advocate of reversion almost immediately after becoming prime minister. He wanted an agreement that would return the islands without jeopardizing the strength of the U.S.-Japanese mutual security treaty. He negotiated with Lyndon Johnson for the return of the Bonin Islands in 1967, and in 1969 reached an agreement with Richard Nixon for the return of the Ryukyu Islands that preserved the security agreement. He retired shortly after reversion in 1972, holding office longer than any other prime minister in Japanese history. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974, and died in 1975.

Senaga Kamejiro - Mayor of Naha in 1956-57. President of the Okinawa People's Party and a Communist, Senaga made international news after wining election as the mayor of Okinawa's capitol on Christmas day, 1956. After eleven months of effort, the city council successful removed him from office in November, 1957 after Americans intervened to change municipal ordinances on the removal of an elected official. In 1970, Senaga was elected to the Japanese Diet as one of Okinawa's first representatives. In 1973, he merged his party into the Japanese Communist Party, and later became Vice-Chairman of the organization.

Vern Sneider - Novelist and former Army officer. His first book, The Teahouse of the August Moon, was a fictional account of his time stationed on Okinawa as part of military government administration. He wrote several other novels about the Far East. He died in 1981.

Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell - assumed command of the Tenth Army after the death of Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner. He conducted mop-up operations and began preparing Okinawa as a staging area for the invasion of Japan. He died in 1946.

Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Unger - High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands from 1966 to 1968. He supported the direct election of the Okinawan chief executive, and supervised the first election. He retired from the Army in 1970.

Lt. Gen. Ushijima Mitsuru - Commanding general of the Japanese Thirty-Second Army during the battle for Okinawa. He committed suicide on June 22, 1945. He was posthumously promoted a year later.

Tracy Voorhees - Assistant Secretary of the Army in 1948 and 1949. Shortly after he became the Under Secretary of the Army in 1949 he made an inspection trip to Okinawa. After the visit he became a major force behind increasing economic aide and for Okinawa. He left government service in 1950. A graduate of Rutgers University, he served on its board of trustees, until his death in 1974.

Lt. Gen. Albert Watson II - High commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands from 1964 to 1966. He advocated and obtained the election of the Okinawan chief executive by the legislature. He hoped this act would reduce pressure for the direct election and reversion. He retired from the Army in 1966. He died in 1993.

Col. Yahara Hiromichi - Chief of operations for the Japanese Thirty Second Army during the battle on Okinawa. He designed the Japanese strategy of only defending the southern third of the island and using defensive tactics to prolong the conflict. He was the highest ranking officer to survive the battle. He died in 1981.

Yara Chobyo - Chief Executive of the Ryukyu Islands from 1968 to 1972. As an opposition candidate, he campaigned on a platform of demanding immediate reversion. His election increased the political pressure for a reversion agreement. He worked closely with Lampert, minimizing a number of crises during the period between the announcement of reversion, and the actual event.

Yoshida Shigeru - Prime Minister of Japan during the occupation and the immediate post-occupation period. Yoshida negotiated the peace treaty with the United States that ended the legal state of war between the U.S. and Japan. He insisted on language about the Ryukyus that gave Japan a legal basis to claim the islands in future years. Yoshida was also a political mentor to Ikeda and Sato. He resigned in 1954, and died in 1967.