PsyOps and Okinawan Culture: A Research Project By The Ryukyu American Historical Society

Shizuo Kishaba contacted me in Sept 2006 indicating he was gathering information for the Ryukyu American Historical Research Society about the role of PsyOps on Okinawa in the 1960's and 70's. He also indicated that he was working with Ko Yoshioka, a documentary producer from Tokyo. He asked that I put him in contact with others who served during this period and would like to be interviewed for a research project. (EDITOR)

I suggested a few individuals including George Lane, Robert Michael, and Warren Rucker. I also recommended Carl Yasuda, but he was not interviewed during the January visit of Mr Kishaba and Yoshioka. Background information on most of the preceding individuals (in form of e-mails) can be viewed in the preliminary discussion of Mr Kishaba's project which is located on another page.

To detail the project and request, I have taken the liberty of summarizing and consolidating several e-mails from Mr Kishaba to our small group since the preliminary contact:

Dear Professor Yoho,

The 1960's and 70's was a time when Okinawa and the rest of Japan were involved in the various governmental policy confusion of that era. I recall very vividly that Okinawa was one of the major staging areas for supplies and transport during the Vietnam War.

Unfortunately, I was still in my early teens in the 60's and have to turn to the "veterans" of that era for information which I feel will help to better understand the Okinawa of today.

Next year (2007), May 15th marks the 35th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. I am assisting Yoshioka Ko, a documentary producer, formerly with Tokyo Broadcasting who spent his early years in journalism on Okinawa, to produce a one hour documentary in the US military efforts to "placate" the Okinawans in accepting military rule and dampen the public's clamor for reversion.

The role that psychological operation units played under the High Commissioners is quite interesting as various means were used in order to have the Okinawans accept the military bases. Shurei no Hikari magazine was one organ of communication used and of course the censuring of information was another.

The procuring of funds to support the SIRI (Scientific Investigation of the Ryukyu Islands) was another method utilized in order to differentiate the differences between Okinawan and Japanese history and culture.

Our documentary will explore the efforts and the end results of the psychological operations in trying to head off the reversion campaigns by various political parties on Okinawa and Japan. Much of it coincided with the ongoing Vietnam War. 40 years later we still have not pinpointed what really occured on Okinawa and I am hoping that veterans such as yourself and others will be able to enlighten us by recalling those days.

I travel constantly to the United States, particularly to Minnesota, Iowa and Washington State where I send many Okinawa students for short and long term study and best of all, on scholarships belonging to an old mentor of mine, Neal Henry Lawrence, who died at age 96.

I'm happy to say that this academic bridge now sees US students coming here from those states to study at our high schools on one month programs. Our programs are based on mutual trust and collaborative agreements and adheres to our society slogan "Our Children, Our Future".

The schools I am involved with in the US are St. John's University, College of St. Benedict, and St. Mary's University of Minnesota, Rollins College (Winter Park, FL), Southeastern Community College (IA), Wenatchee Valley College (WA) and over a dozen high schools, mostly private where over 20 Okinawa students are presently attending. Several have graduated and are attending graduate schools and one graduated Cum Laude from Rollins recently and now studies in Indiana at a renowned music university.

Since I left my governmental work many years ago, I have continued with the historical society founded by Dr. Rolf Schrebrand, a doctor at Airakuen, the leprosanium at Yagaii Island in northern Okinawa.

Some of our accomplishments have been the return of the Gokokuji Bell from the Naval Academy, the return of the Daisho Zenji Bell from the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, and the placing of the Ryukyu Stone into the Washington Monument by 10 Okinawa students in 1989. We have returned personal items taken by US soldiers during the war to over 143 Okinawan families. I have attended over 6 military reunions to call upon veterans to assist in this endeavor.

If you need a personal contact to check my credentials please contact my dear friend in Connecticut, George Feifer, who wrote the "Tennozan - The Battle of Okinawa" and dozens of books on Russia. Next year, November, via the Smithsonia Press, he will be coming out with yet another controversial book on Commodore Matthew Perry.

I understand that memories fade but hope that you will allow us to talk and listen to you, George Lane, Warren Rucker and Rob Michael during our visit to the east coast of the US.


Shizuo (Alex) Kishaba, Chairman
Ryukyu America Historical Research Society (Incorporated)
541 Arakaki, Nakagusuku, Okinawa
Japan 901-2422

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr Kishaba has an open appeal for Okinawa Pictures on the Historical Society Web page. Visit the page and view latest photo display under "Cultural Events"

Ryukyu American Historical Research Society

Appeal for Okinawa Pictures (From Web Page)

“Here is your chance to ensure that History Lives and Will not be Forgotten.”

Our Society continues to sponsor the Okinawa War and Postwar Picture Exhibit –“ Courage and Determination” - throughout Okinawa and starting in 2007 we are will be holding exhibits in other areas of Japan.

This is an appeal and opportunity for former Okinawa residents and Americans who were stationed on Okinawa to contribute any pictures or documents and manuscripts they may have in their possession.
We are particularly interested in photographs taken on Okinawa from 1945 to 1955. Photographs can be sent by special carrier or scanned and sent through the internet. For those who send prints and negatives we have a specialist who can duplicate them with care. Loaned items will be sent back to the owners by special delivery and insured. Credit will be given to the contributors at the picture exhibit and on any publications following.

Please contact Alex Kishaba at or write to 541 Arakaki, Nakagusuku, Okinawa, Japan 901-2422 or call 090-9785-3370 or fax: 098-895-7109.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Mr Kishaba also has a network of people on Okinawa who search for 'long lost' friends for Americans who have left the Island. 

Interview Group and Itinerary

Mr Kishaba notified us on 1/13/2007 the following individuals would accompany him on the trip to the US and take part in the interviews:

Proposed Itinerary:

Summary of Interviews

Some sample questions and responses appear below

George Lane's Interview

BREIF BIO: George Lane spent five years on Okinawa from 1967 to 1972 for the United States Communications Electronics and Engineering Installation Agency (USACEEIA) Pacific Field Office. He was an Army officer and then a US Army Civil Service employee. I suggested George to Alex because of his knowledge of PsyOps and Okinawan history and culture (EDITOR).

GEORGE: We met at 2 PM as planned which is very remarkable as they had just arrived from the airport. Not bad for a 11,000 mile commute! We had a very nice and relaxed conversation over dinner and a 90 minute TV interview the next day (1/18/07).

Interviewer Question: Were you aware of any overt PsyOp warfare against the Okinawan people?

I replied that I didn't think there was any while I was on Okinawa as the decision to return Okinawa to Japan had already been made to appease Prime Minister Sato after Nixon pulled the Unilateral negotiations with Red China. I said that there was material presented to the Okinawans and the press putting the USA/Ryukyu relationship in the best light possible. This was as much for the Americans as it was for the Okinawans.

The active Psyop work on Okinawa in the late 60's and early 70's was with respect to the war in Vietnam. Not only were safe passes being dropped on North Vietnam but also tons of currency aimed at breaking the VC bank. I imagine some of the things done then are still classified.

I mentioned one project I was aware of in Vietnam that may have been CIA based....remote sensors were dropped that had small radio transmitters disguised to look like dog droppings. Unfortunately, the design was for American dog droppings and did not look like Vietnamese dog droppings. Some of our troops found the things and sent them back to be identified by the military. They finally figured out how to x-ray one in a parking lot, in case it was a bomb. After several weeks of worrying about the damn things, it turned out to be one of our own!

Interviewer Question: Did you see the anti-American riots on Okinawa in 1968?

Not only had I seen the riots but I gave them nearly a year's worth of Okinawa Times newspapers of that period. Below, George Lane presents Alex Kishaba with 40 year old newspapers.

Interviewer Question: Do you have any pictures of your travels on Okinawa?

I responded that most of my pictures were on Super 8 mm film. Mr Kishaba (Alex) asked if I would be willing to have them digitized and I said I would really like that. I was up at 5 am digging around in my house and came up with over 800 feet of film taken from 1967 through 1974. I also found books, a dozen LP recordings of Okinawan music and publications of interest. After the taped interview, we packed 4 large boxes of material for Alex's treasure trove. I will sleep better knowing the material will be back on Okinawa and perhaps be put to good use.

As moderator of the Web Group PACFO, a group devoted to retaining the history of USASTRATCOM Pacific Field Office, I am in contact with a number of former Army and Airforce personnel who served on Okinawa. I contacted a USAF Radar Yahoo Group who were stationed on the remote radar sites on Okinawa about Alex's project. They were very excited to hear of his research and will make available a large collection of snap shots from the 50's through the 70's. Several members have already exchanged e-mails with Alex.

We also talked about the role of Lt General Paul W. Caraway who was High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands from 1961-1966. Mr Kishaba indicated to me in an earlier e-mail that his group is desparately looking for any visual or audio images of the former High Commissioner He wondered if the debriefing Caraway did at Carlisle's Army Military History Institute may have been lost.

I responded that I was amazed that no photos of a Lt General could be found. But I soon learned that he (Caraway) seems to have disappeared from the history books. I imagine he was not very popular in Washington or Tokyo so perhaps he was written out of the history books. After some searching I found a brief description and a picture of Caraway hidden away in an obscure web site. The following description from the web page ( may explain why Caraway was in disfavor.

Caraway v. Reischauer: Lt. Gen. Paul W. Caraway served as High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands from 1961-1964. Edwin O. Reischauer represented the United States from 1961-1966 as the ambassador in Tokyo. The two had several bitter confrontations over Okinawa. The ambassador wanted the island returned to Japan and favored allowing Japan to provide large sums of economic aid, while Caraway fought efforts to increase Japanese support, seeing it as th first step in striping the U.S. of what he considered the most vital base in the Pacific. Although Reischauer enjoyed favorable publicity during his tenure in Japan, his influence within the U.S. Government was generally limited to the bureaucracy within the State Department. Caraway had lengthy experience working at high levels of the U.S. government. He successfully blocked the tepid efforts of the Kennedy White House to implement policy initiatives the ambassador, the Japanese Government, and the State Department favored.

I also found and shared with Mr Kishaba an interview with Stephen Ailes who knew Caraway and served as Under Secretary of the Army during Caraway's term. One part of the interview I found interesting is about the VUNC PsyOp broadcasts and the movement of HQ from Japan to Okinawa:

We had something called the "Voice of the United Nations Command" that beamed soap operas into China, which were very effective, according to refugees in Hong Kong. This operation had been in Japan, and they asked that it be removed from there because it seemed a little militant for the posture that they wanted to take. (it was moved to Okinawa and Korea)

The fundamental issue between the military view, certainly Caraway's view, and the task force was really over whether or not you brought the government of the Ryukyus along by letting them make mistakes or whether you exercised this power of veto and the power to issue ordinances in order to correct errors when they were made. For instance, as I recall, the legislature used to vote to abolish the income tax fairly regularly so that Caraway would veto it, and they would get the political benefits of having been for low taxation but wouldn't have destroyed the government. But this was an impossible situation in terms of getting any maturity and responsibility in the legislature. On the other hand, if they had really wiped out the income tax, we coundn't have gotten the appropriations back here that we were trying to get to support the Ryukyuan economy.

Source: JFK Library

In summary, I found Mr kishaba and his group to be wonderful and interesting people. I enjoyed the interviews and felt rather sad to have them go as my days on Okinawa really flashed past my eyes in the two days I spent with them.

George Lane

Warren Rucker's Interview

BRIEF BiO: Warren was an Information Specialist with the 14th PsyWar Bn from 1962-63 and worked as a U.S. civilian educator for the Department of the Army in 1966-1967 on Okinawa. He taught American studies/ESL evening courses at the University of the Ryukyus. The students were Okinawan college graduates who were competing for a year or two of fully-funded (by the U.S. Government) college study in the United States.  One of his classes had a future Vice Governor/Japanese Diet member (Tomon) and a university president (Toguchi). EDITOR

Warren: I met the Okinawan group at our local Burger King and led the way to their motel, then back to our house for a turkey dinner that my wife had prepared. We had a delightful three or four hours just socializing and eating. They came back to our home the next morning for the interview.

The interview dealt largely with some of the people-to-people things I did while with B&VA (14th PsyWar Bn). I was a member of a two man team for several months that drove nightly to isolated villages and showed movies (cartoons, travelogues, sports shots, etc). I was also asked about some of the classes I taught at Ryudai a few years later and my involvement in the English Club.

I donated some copies of Shurei no Hikari that helped add to those George provided. I also gave them a few copies of Koryu. In addition, I kicked in a copy of a first edition I have been holding onto of Spaulding's account (1855) of his experiences with the Perry expedition (which came out before Perry's official publication and enraged the good Commodore). Shown below during presentation are Warren and his wife Mieko, Alex Kishaba, and Warren's son Wade

I felt at ease and was not led or manipulated during the interview. I also found the group to be very delightful and easy to talk with. While at our home they did video takes of my wife's karatachi tree, tea shrubs, our modest lake front, and a highway sign relating the beginnings of Ruckersville by a much removed relative. They mentioned a possible side trip to visit the Jamestown Settlement on their way to Rob Michael's home.

Warren Rucker

Robert Michael's Interview

Brief Bio: From 1962-1963 Rob was an officer (LT) and Section Leader of Special Forces Counter Insurgency in Thailand for the 14th PsyWar Battalion. He was also Assistant Editor of Shurei no Hikari, a magazine published by the 14th PsyWar Bn.

Robert: After reading Warren's e-mail that the Okinawan group was thinking of stopping at Jamestown, I contacted the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation and arranged free passes for Alex and his party to visit the settlement at 9:00 AM. I also asked the foundation for permission for Alex's group to film at the site. This was necessary in the event any of the footage the Japanese TV crew obtains is used for later broadcast. I met with the group at the settlement.

The camera crew did some filming of me at the settlement during which I responded to questions about the significance of Jamestown to American history. We spent about 90 minutes at Jamestown and afterwards drove to my house which is about ten minutes travel. We chatted informally for about a quarter hour before going to lunch.

After lunch we returned to my house and began the interview which lasted approximately 90 minutes. Most of the questions seemed to be aimed at determining what, if any, propaganda was directed at the Okinawans/Ryukuans during General Caraway's administration of the islands. The magazine Shurei no Hikari was obviously the main vehicle for such a campaign. I tried, to the extent possible, to explain there was nothing sinister about this in such a setting and that public information programs aimed at improving bilateral relations are the norm. I stated that I was unaware of any policies, published or otherwise, that were directed at severing Okinawa's ties to Japan. I admitted, however, that one could see that some officials might find it easier to deal with an independent Okinawa instead of one that was subservient to Japan or any other power.

Mr Yoshioka, pointed out that the magazine always made reference to "Ryukuans" rather than "Okinawans" and wondered whether that was a conscious policy to underscore an island identity separate from that of Japan. I replied that I had never thought about the magazine's emphasis on "Ryukuans" as being anything else than an effort to include the residents of all the islands under one linguistic umbrella.

It was noted that the magazine's featuring of Ryukuan legends would suggest that U.S. officials saw these stories as another way to enhance the Okinawan self-image as a distinctive people and a culture, i.e. non-Japanese. That was possible, I responded, but the editors also recognized that the legends and other folklore articles were the most popular part of the magazine. You gave people what they want and enjoy in the hope that they will read whatever else is in the publication.

I was shown a 1972 Japanese language newspaper clipping of some GI who was part of the PsyOps unit on the island. I was asked if I knew the guy to which I replied in the negative. I was then informed that the GI, whose name I have forgotten, was court- marshaled for going AWOL supposedly after blowing the whistle about propaganda materials that were printed on the island and used in Southeast Asia.

My response was that it was well known that the U.S. military created an array of printed and broadcast materials on Okinawa for use against hostile forces in Southeast Asia. The article about the GI going public with his complaint was not surprising, I said. Such incidents were fairly common in the U.S. military at a time when social unrest was sweeping the U.S. and spilling over into the military as well. In the early seventies the U.S. military was beset by racial tensions and even the breakdown of discipline which resulted in the "fragging" of officers by enlisted men. This was a period of transition, I explained, when an Army composed largely of draftees was being replaced by an all-volunteer force.

During the course of the interview I learned that, in the broadest terms, economic and social conditions for Okinawa have hardly improved since the 1972 reversion of sovereignty. What I learned was that approximately 20 percent of Okinawa's land remains under U.S. military control. There is still a sense of being "occupied," Okinawa is Japan's poorest prefecture and that the economic base is dependent upon Japanese subsidies. Okinawa's position as a client state dependent upon the largesse of others is reflected in efforts to make Okinawa into a Pacific-based call center for global corporations. Little wonder, then, that young Okinawans seek their fortune elsewhere.

One can only wonder what Okinawa would be like today had it in fact opted for independence and found U.S. support for the island's separation from Japan. Yet, U.S. Japanese relations are exceptionally strong particularly when viewed against the background of North Korea's nuclear gambit and China's still expanding economic power. Let's leave that to the foreign policy experts to handle.

I found Alex Kishaba to be exceptionally intelligent, charming, energetic, insightful, courteous and articulate. He is a one-person Chamber of Commerce for his island and its people. I sense that Alex Kishaba, more than any other person or organization, has the will and the ability to preserve and strengthen mutually productive U.S. Okinawan relations. If Okinawa is ever in a position to realize its potential, it will be because he is helping to show the way.

Robert L. Michael

Tim Yoho's Interview

Unfortunately I received an e-mail from Warren Rucker that Alex Kishaba had called and asked that Warren contact me since they would not be able to complete the trip to PA. They were behind schedule and found that Mr Yoshioka had to return to Japan a day earlier than anticipated.

I was disappointed about not being interviewed but also in not having the opportunity to meet Mr Kishaba and his group. George, Warren, and Robert were all very enthuaistic about their meetings. I was also disappointed in not being able to show Alex Lock Haven University where I was a former professor and introduce him to the Director of International Education. Alex had indicated a desire to meet with university officials to discuss a possible student exchange program with The University of the Ryukyus. I was told that Alex is planning another trip to the U.S. this summer and will hopefully meet with me at that time.

One consolation of my missing the interview and meeting the group from Okinawa is knowing that the PsyOps page made it possible for the interviews to happen with George, Warren, and Rob.

Final Comments and Response From Alex Kishaba

This was certainly an East meets West and hands across the water experience for all involved. Besides being a very interesting experience, I think everyone learned something from this endeavor. I know I learned things about Okinawa I never knew and now have a greater respect for its people and history. We hope Alex and his group have gathered the information they needed for their research. I know they met a great group of Americans who not only openly shared their knowledge and experiences, but showed them great hospitality.

Robert Michael summed it up nicely with these comments:

I can well imagine that this trip has been a bonaza for the Ryukyu Historical Society because of the historical artifacts provided to the organization. I think it splendid that the first edition of Spaulding is going back, so to speak, to its original source where it will be a valuable adjunct to promary source material on the first Western contacts with Okinawa. I am glad that all has gone well for all those involved in this visit: Alex and his party and the old soldiers trying to recall days long gone and only barely discernible through the mists of time.

Alex Kishaba sent the following E-Mail (1/29/07) upon his return to Okinawa:

Dear George, Rob, Warren and Tim

I just returned from the US after spending a day in Tokyo. Probably due to the winter I seem to be suffering from a severe case of jetlag as I could not sleep to well during my journey.

I am writing to thank you for your very generous and kind hospitality during our short visit. Needless to say we were impressed by everyone. All of you have accomplished and done well after returning from Okinawa.

I wonder how we may be able to return all the kindness we received. All I can hope for is your future visit to see Okinawa once more and this time with an escort to show you up and about Okinawa. You would be both surprised and dismayed at the modernization and breakdown in the society but I assure you that I can take you back in time to various places in Okinawa which has maintained its integrity and traditions.

I will be calling the Ryukyu Shimpo reporter tomorrow to confer on the generous donations of books and magazines I received from you (George), Rob and Warren. My only regret was that I was not able to visit Tim in Lock Haven. However, the silver lining is there is ample reason for making Part Two of this documentary as we cannot squeeze in everything in one program. I will continue to monitor your webpage for that very reason. Again, Tim my sincere apologies and my utmost regret for not visiting you this time.

I cherish the friendship I have built with all of you and hope to build upon it as Okinawa continues to need assistance in other ways besides the help you rendered in the 60's ad 70's.

Alex Kishaba


If you would like to help in this project please contact Alex Kishaba of the Okinawa Historical Society

Shizuo (Alex) Kishaba, Chairman
Ryukyu America Historical Research Society (Incorporated)
541 Arakaki, Nakagusuku, Okinawa
Japan 901-2422

E-Mail Alex Kishaba


For Comments Contact TIM YOHO