Page Title

"A Couple of Points, Based On My Experience Getting Married to an Okinawan Bride, Some 40 Years Ago" by Gene Montgomery as provided by Charlotte Meyer of JapanGenWeb.

"1.  As part of a lengthy process in military, civil and US consular offices, it was necessary to obtain a "birth certificate" for her, and to have it translated to English for consumption by the American military and diplomatic authorities on Okinawa.  Not knowing any better when I was asked whether I wanted a koseki tohon or a koseki shohon, I said "better get both, just in case".   The shohon is a family register which lists all of the members of the household, while the tohon lists the parents and the subject individual, but not the siblings.  I mention this because it would seem to me that if the only thing one is interested in is the equivalent of our birth certificate (tohon), that the likelihood of rejection of a request is lower.

2.  I have the sense that (at least in the prefecture of Okinawa), the city offices are highly interested in correct records, and might take kindly to anyone providing corrections, additions, which would make their records more accurate.  Corrections to house numbers, restorations of the records after war damage, and the like are reflected on the family register of my wife.  It would seem possible to obtain a copy of a corrected document, particularly if the correction is provided and attested to by the applicant.  Traditionally, the "Head of Household" takes care of reporting births, deaths, etc.  And the Okinawan tradition is that when a head of household passes on, a new head of household takes on that responsibility.  In our case, since the only son was killed in the war, my father-in-law "adopted" one of his grandchildren, who changed his name so as to have the surname of the patriarch, and inherited the household responsibilities and the limited wealth and thus became the new head of household..  Regarding officialdom, it may be that the Okinawans are somewhat more open than the officials in Japan proper, and it may be that the war destroyed so much that they "opened up" in a desperate attempt to reconstitute the records.  But I found the Okinawan system to be quite amenable, as I recall some 40 years later."

(NOTE by Web Master)...In reference to the Koseki Shohon:  many records were lost during the Battle of Okinawa and, as such, many of the "Family Registers" were reconstructed from memory by the heads of household.  Most were reconstructed to include only the Head of Household, his wife, and his children; occasionally, when known, they included the names and vital information for the Head of Household and his wife's parents.
Original Koseki Shohon ("Family Registers") which survived the war because of location in municipalities not totally destroyed, may have as many as five or six generations, or sometimes more.  As such, they are considered as important genealogical records.
Another interesting point regarding these documents:  When a family relocates from one municipality to another, the Koseki Shohon is delivered to the city office of the municipality to which the family relocated.
The Koseki Tohon ("Birth Certificate") is abstracted from the Koseki Tohon ("Family Register").
                                            Paul E. Truesdell, Jr.
                                            Okinawa, Japan

Home Page     Previous Page