Moreno Alie: Historical Bettelheim Issue May Offer Insights into Okinawa’s Current Plight

Editor’s note: This article is a reprint of a comment posted by Moreno Alie to “1850 British View of ‘Lewchew and the Lewchewans’” (Liuchiuan, 11 Oct. 2014) on 28 Nov. 2018. -Jim

By モレノ・アリー [Moreno Alie]

This article has served to satisfy my uncomfortable, itching curiosity about a dimension of Ryukyuan history that, as far as I can tell, remains relatively obscured. To disclose the source of my interest in this history, I must confess to once being one of the ‘entrenched’. Now long since departed, questions remain and a haunting irritation remains. For this reason, I read with interest and with gratitude for the author’s scholarship.

It was not till long after I left that I learned about Bernard Jean Bettelheim. The historical narrative I was able to piece together with my limited research skills struck me as incomplete. Does anyone besides myself find it incongruous that someone so notorious in Okinawa, and so obscure elsewhere, should be memorialized near the grounds of the (now destroyed) dwelling where he basically ‘squatted’ for so many unwelcome years? Further, am I the only one who is suspicious of his easy ingratiation with Commodore Perry later on?

My opinion is that the answers to these questions are not trivial, but may well offer the insights that can decisively open a way to resolving the contemporary conflict and dilemma that currently burden so many, not only in Okinawa, but beyond as well.

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