Miyoko Watai Is Girlfriend of Bobby Fischer

Miyoko Watai photo
Miyoko Watai picture (credit: Chessbase.com)

Miyoko Watai is the girlfriend of former US chess genius Bobby Fischer who died yesterday. Miyoko Watai, the general secretary of the Japan Chess Association lived together in a de facto marriage at her Japanese home until August 2004 when Fischer was intercepted at Tokoyo Narita Airport by the Japanese Government for travelling with a revoked U.S. passport. Watai campaigned for his freedom and later successfully liaison Iceland to grant Bobby a passport. Since 2005, the couple lives at Reykjavik. Chessbase.com has a fabulous interview (accompanied with plenty of photos) with Watai, below is the introduction part of the article:
Miyoko Watai, acting president and general secretary of the Japan Chess Association, visits a detention facility in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, a 50 km northeast from central Tokyo, everyday except weekends and holidays, taking two hours of train and taxi rides for a one-way trip. Sitting on a chair in a small room there, she meets – through a glass wall – the chess legend and her fiancee, Bobby Fischer.

Since 59-year-old Watai first met Fischer in Tokyo in 1973, she had corresponded with the former world chess champion for years and visited his homes in the U.S. and Hungary. In January 2000, Fischer, wanted in the United States for violating international sanctions on the former Yugoslavia in 1992, eventually began living in Watai's home in Kamata downtown in Tokyo's Ota Ward. It was the start of their de facto marriage. Now the couple wants to legally tie the knot.

Their peaceful life in Japan, however, was suddenly interrupted on July 13, when Fischer was arrested at the Narita International Airport for allegedly trying to travel with an invalid U.S. passport. The chess grandmaster has been detained in the Ushiku detention center after he was moved from a similar facility at the airport on Aug. 10.

The situation is getting worse for Fischer and Watai. In the evening on Aug. 24, the Japanese government, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S., issued an order to deport him later that night. The surprise move shocked the couple and his supporters. But his lawyers quickly filed a lawsuit the same day at the Tokyo District Court to demand that the injunction be canceled, which is expected to delay deportation proceedings for a month, according to Watai.

Watai is in anger and in worry that the arrest has given the chess genius a mental anguish and messed up the couple's quiet life in Japan. "He is like a prisoner on a death row. He is afraid of being deported to the U.S., which could happen today or tomorrow. Why does he have to endure such misery?" is how she put it.

Right after the incident happened, Watai started desperately trying to free Fischer, seeking support from chess fans around the world. The Committee to Free Bobby Fischer was set up in late July by Watai and other Fischer' admirers, including Ichiji Ishii, a former vice minister of foreign affairs, and Canadian communication consultant John Bosnitch. The group has aggressively taken legal action to prevent the Japanese government from deporting Fischer to the U.S.

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