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.
Still in search of the mysterious and enigmatic Dr. Bettelheim; just last week, I was able to revisit the ground of Gofuku-ji in Naha and to seek out and inspect the Bettelheim monument for myself. It indeed bore the marks of battle damage, presumably suffered in 1945.
A person associated with the temple explained during my visit that, technically, the monument itself did not fall upon temple property. In actuality, it lies on Naha City property. The same person seemed to carry a sense of resignation at the presence of the monument and something other than pride or even approval.