Meeting again - after a 40-year attraction

Above: Mr Isoda, 55, and Ms Chua, 58, catching up 40 years after they first met. At left is the photo he took with her when he was 15. She remembers him because she was in her first job and he was the only guest there to take a photo with her. He nev
Above: Mr Isoda, 55, and Ms Chua, 58, catching up 40 years after they first met.PHOTOS: LIANHE WANBAO
Above: Mr Isoda, 55, and Ms Chua, 58, catching up 40 years after they first met. At left is the photo he took with her when he was 15. She remembers him because she was in her first job and he was the only guest there to take a photo with her. He nev
Above is the photo he took with her when he was 15. She remembers him because she was in her first job and he was the only guest there to take a photo with her. He never forgot her.PHOTOS: LIANHE WANBAO

Japanese businessman finally reconnects with girl he met in hotel here decades ago

After a chance meeting in Singapore, a young Seiichiro Isoda nursed a crush on a Singaporean girl that would last 40 years.

On Sunday, the Japanese businessman finally got to meet Ms Yvonne Chua, now 58, again.

When he was 15 years old, Mr Isoda, who now heads a multinational company, visited Singapore with his parents. The family stayed at the then Apollo Hotel, where Ms Chua worked as one of the service staff.

After graduating from university, he came back to Singapore to work for six years and tried to look for her. He had a photo with her, but did not know her name.

The girl stayed in his thoughts over the decades until, two weeks ago, he decided to approach Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao and ask it to publish the photo.

SURPRISED

I was very surprised, I've changed so much but he could tell it was me.

MS YVONNE CHUA


CATCHING UP

I have too much I wanted to know, and to tell her.

JAPANESE BUSINESSMAN SEIICHIRO ISODA

Ms Chua - who is married with two daughters, a son and three grandchildren - was persuaded to meet Mr Isoda. Seven members of her family, including her husband, turned up, too.

Mr Isoda, now 55 and married, recognised Ms Chua immediately and they spent two hours talking about their lives.

"I was very surprised, I've changed so much, but he could tell it was me," Ms Chua, now the head of a logistics firm, told Wanbao.

She still remembers Mr Isoda, she said, as it was her first job and he was the only guest at the hotel to ask to take a photo with her.

Mr Isoda said his friends advised him to let their meeting remain a beautiful memory, but he could not let it go. "I have too much I wanted to know, and to tell her," he said.

Ms Chua's daughter, Wong Xin Pei, 25, told Wanbao that she knew her mother was beautiful when she was young, but never guessed that someone would hold a torch for her for 40 years.

She added: "Mum told us how she had many suitors in the past, but we thought they were just stories."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2016, with the headline 'Meeting again - after a 40-year attraction'. Print Edition | Subscribe