THE first reunion of four Japanese siblings with their Filipina-Japanese aunt turned emotional at the F. Bangoy International Airport Friday morning.
The grandchildren of late Genichi Miyazato, namely, Tsuyoshi, 55, Shigeru Taira, 67, Hiroshi, 64, and Katsuko Minei, 60, all from Okinawa, Japan, together with representatives from Nippon Foundation and Japanese media arrived around noon Friday.
The four were in Davao City to visit their aunt Conchita Miyazato-Basilan, 73, of Digos City, Davao del Sur, the only surviving offspring of their grandfather, Genichi, who was a Japanese cook during the World War II.
“I feel sorry for my aunt Conchita. It took us a very long time to see her,” Tsuyoshi said as translated by Rika Taniguchi of Hello World Tour in Philippine Nikkei-Jin Kai Inc.
Tsuyoshi asked for help from the office of the Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center (PNLSC) to look for his grandfather’s grave and his family in the Philippines.
He said he was hesitant at first to look for his aunt due to some security issues in the Philippines years ago.
“We come here for two reasons. First is to offer a prayer to the soul of our grandfather Genichi. Second is to meet our relatives here, especially the children of our grandfather,” Tsuyoshi said.
Miyazato-Basilan, on the other hand, said she is very grateful for the efforts of her nephews and niece to look for her.
“I am already old. I live peacefully with my grandchildren. I never expected this would still happen. Thank you,” Miyazato-Basilan said in the vernacular.
If given a chance, she said she is willing to go to Japan with the grandchildren of her father.
Meanwhile, Shigeru said they are yet to discuss with Miyazato-Basilan any plans to meet with their relatives in Japan.
"We are very happy to see our aunt,” he said. Shigeru thanked the Nippon Foundation and the PNLSC for helping them locate their aunt.
Miyazato-Basilan’s father was a World War II soldier who worked as a cook in the Japanese military. She participated in the survey on the second generation Japanese descendants held by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to trace the roots last 1995, thus her father’s first family found her in the registry in Japan.
After their meet-up at the airport, the Basilan family, together with the Japanese relatives, had a lunch in Nanay Beneng Restaurant.
They also traveled to Digos City to visit the grave of Genicho.
The reunion of Miyazato-Basilan and her four Japanese relatives was the first time that a homecoming is held in the Philippines.
Davao City was home to around 20,000 Japanese before World War II broke out, working in abaca plantations and tending to different businesses here. The Japanese practically owned the businesses along the major streets of Davao City and in Toril and Calinan, such that it was commonly referred to as Davao-ku, or a district of Japan.