A chance to meet the Emperor flopped

handpainted scroll

Part of the once-beautiful handpainted scroll inviting me to an afternoon tea at the Emperor Hirohito's Palace.

invited guests

A Navy captain, at left, and I, behind him, with members of the Dutch Embassy and orphanage officials who received invitations to the tea.
Photos courtesy of Oscar Roloff.

Oscar Roloff by Oscar Roloff
While in postwar Japan as a correspondent, I became involved in the plight of the thousands of Japanese children whose parents were U.S. Servicemen and young unmarried Japanese girls.
   Shunned by the elders, no one wanted them. When the American G.I.'s left for home, they'd tell their "girls" they'd send for them and the offspring in short order, but never did. Thus the young tykes were left homeless, uncared for.
   Hearing that some of our Navymen were concerned, I decided to do something about it and praise our U.S. sailors. So I began writing about the youngsters' plight and how our Navymen began helping the various orphanages take care of the tremendous costs to feed and clothe them.
   Consequently, I became associated with the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo and wrote articles and took photos of the waifs and the benefactors. Boxes after boxes of clothes, shoes, and money were being sent.
   I wrote articles for Japanese newspapers, heralding the Navy's efforts and concern, plus articles to our own back-home newspapers and the wire service.
   When I learned the home address of one solder, I wrote to him, explaining what he'd promised to do about his famiy in Japan. He wrote back that he was married, had children, and didn't want them to know about his overseas family and to cease writing to him. That was the typical response orphanage officials had encountered, too.
   For our efforts, the Dutch Embassy officials and I were invited to an afternoon's tea at Emperor Hirohito's Palace. What a splendid treat that would be, and I looked forward to it. I still have the beautifully-scribed invitation. It is somewhat faded.
   But alas! Prior to going to the Emperor's grounds across the "moat," a heavy downpour of rain erupted and the invitation was cancelled until a later day. Unfortunately, I then went to Korea, and that ended my chance of a lifetime to visit the Palace.
   I might explain that a writing friend of mine, Captain Bill Lederer, and a colleague wrote a book about how American people set such poor examples while overseas. The book's title was The Ugly American. The book was set in the Far East and became a best-seller. It also cited the orphans' plight. I had the pleasure of working journalistically with the now-retired Navy captain and writer.