Mr. Hitoshi Issa President of the Bolivia Association of Okinawa
Mr. Hitoshi Issa
I hello my name is Hitoshi Issa , for the past 4 years I have had the privilege as serving as the Bolivia Association of Okinawa president, a group formed by returnees to Okinawa from Bolivia. I myself was born in Colonia Okinawa in Bolivia, and was there until I was 16 years old. I then returned to Japan, and it has been about 40 years since then.
Looking at the history of my career, I was busy at first with raising kids, and all the things that come along with that, so I was unable to participate much in the association. But with the chance that I had after I finished raising my children, and because I wanted to create initiatives to deepen bonds with our neighboring nations, and those overseas nations such as Bolivia where I was born and raised, I am working together with the association.
In my case, because there were many of those who were of 1st generation decent, where I grew up was not much of a change from Okinawa, We had sports days, sumo wrestling, and at that time karaoke, but because we really had no need for modern things, we all played the San-shin together, and my elders created the association together.
At the time I was a child, so I slowly began to participate, and I learned about the Uchinanchu identity of my elders.
How you came to take over as President
Until now a Dispatched Teacher, Mr. Miyazato was the president, however he thought that, the leader should be from the “returnees”, and that “isn’t it better if they then manage the association themselves.” The members thought that it would be better if it was someone they were close with, and suddenly I was chosen to take over the positon, normally there are a lot of senior members so my taking the position was a lot of responsibility, I was also at a loss as to what to do, so I spoke with the current honorary advisors President Kadekaru and Mr. Keiichi Inamine and with their help now I feel able to do my job well.
Independently, the support that my seniors have done for Bolivia so far has been for Colonia Okinawa, however Colonial is a place that is having remarkable development, because of that, I am looking for something that I can do to help. After getting the advice of those in the association through opening a governing board meeting, it seems that a human resource type exchange would be beneficial. Currently, once a year the Uchinanchu youths in Okinawa, during their summer break, we are planning for from the end for July to the end of August, and they will do things like experience school in Bolivia. And help those of first and second generation in the area, currently we are focusing specifically on those who are 2nd generation, then through the one month exchange I am hoping that they will be able to make their dreams for the future a reality, and so, we will be doing this program one time each year.
My goal as of now is, and I’m currently speaking with the Okinawa Prefecture International Exchange Division about this, Santa Cruz province and Okinawa are connected with sister cities, and they have been connected this way for about 20 years, but, so far this connection has not been used for exchange. Going forward I would like to connect Colonia’s providence Santa Cruz using it sister city connection and between it and Okinawa create cultural exchange to be done once a year. Whether it be karate, or dance, anything is ok, that sort of initiative would be very good I think, it is my hope and it also is the hope from the side of those in the Colonia Okinawa Association.
A Message to the Youth
Thanks to the initiatives of Okinawa prefecture, the young people of today can freely study as they wish. Of the 1 year exchange students sponsored by the prefecture, many are from Bolivia. There is an OB/OG group that is run by the alumni of the program. With groups like this they are most likely taking what they learned from living abroad, bringing it back home to Bolivia and spreading it. Taking the Uchinanchu Identity and using it to support Colonia Okinawa.