At 84, Chihiro Isa hopes to see two things in his lifetime: the jury system reinstated in Japan and U.S. forces gone from Okinawa. These seemingly disparate dreams are actually inseparably rooted in his remarkable life experience.

The man Isa knew as his father was a doctor from Okinawa, where Isa spent part of his childhood, until the approach of war saw him sent to the Japanese mainland with his mother and younger siblings. His father stayed and perished in the battle of Okinawa. Much later, he learned that his biological father was an anti-establishment painter who had fled to America in 1939 after repeated arrests, eventually helping to make the propaganda leaflets U.S. forces dropped on the Okinawa battlefields where the man who raised his son died.

Despite being a promising student, as the eldest son of a fatherless household in the grim days of postwar Japan, Isa was forced to abandon the dream of further schooling in order to support his family. He translated and interpreted for the Occupation forces and eventually developed a thriving business with lucrative contracts servicing on-base stores. When the U.S. military and bureaucratic infrastructure shifted to Okinawa after the end of the Occupation in 1952, Isa followed it back to his childhood home.