OKINAWA, JAPAN – For Toru Kiyan, the disciplines of karate have served him well in life and throughout his 33 years serving with the Exchange.
Kiyan, manager of the Butler Express at Camp Foster, is a multilevel black belt karate sensei. As the he worked his way toward becoming a karate expert, Kiyan also found success at the Exchange.
Kiyan started his career with the Exchange in the summer of 1985 as a part-time janitor.
“At that time (there were) very few computers…lots of paperwork,” Kiyan said. “I started by sweeping floors, stocking shelves and doing lots of manual work. Now as a manger, I spend more time thinking, planning, typing and writing.”
Kiyan grew up in Okinawa when it was still under U.S. civil administrative control after World War II. As a young man, his decision to join the Exchange was a logical choice.
“I love America,” he said. “In Okinawa, we were under U.S. administrative control. We used the U.S. dollar, listened to American music. I was even a Life Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. However, on 15 May 1972, Okinawa reverted to Japan and we soon started losing the American feel I was used to on Okinawa. When I joined the Exchange, I saw it as a chance to be a little closer to that American culture that I grew up with.”