Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Tanaka, Shimizu, Shinohara, Yamashita and many more.  These are names we all recognize on Guam and we consider members of these families our fellow Chamorros.  But we also acknowledge their Japanese background.

In the last few weeks, it has been announced in the media that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Japanese settlers who moved to Guam over 100 years ago are forming a society.  There had been a Guam Japanese Association in the 1930s before the war, made up of these Japanese settlers.  But after the war, there was actually a bit of a stigma associated with being part Japanese on Guam.  Some Japanese-Chamorros dropped their Japanese names, as a matter of fact, and went by their mother's Chamorro maiden names.

Yet most Japanese-Chamorro families proved their loyalty to the U.S., or at least to their fellow Chamorro countrymen, during the war; and, after the war, Chamorro voters routinely elected people with names like Tanaka and Ooka.  Even some full-blooded Japanese, like Mrs. Dejima, were seen as having kept a clean record during the war.

Samuel T. Shinohara was an early Japanese settler, marrying a Chamorro from the Torres family, and opening a restaurant.  He was one of the leaders of the Guam Japanese Association before the war.

Mr. Suzuki (top) was a tailor.  But J. K. Shimizu (below) had an even more prominent business.  Shimizu was early in the game, probably right at the turn of the century (1900) if not a few years earlier.  He had boats that would go up and down the Marianas, as well as onto Japan.  His descendants continue the family's strong commercial activities.  Shimizu also had married a Torres.

The Japanese had a strong commercial presence here in the Marianas certainly by the 1890s.  Even in the early American administration of Guam, there were comments by Americans that too many shops were owned by Japanese.  But the large part of these Japanese settlers married local women and planted deep roots.

So from the 1930s we come to the year 2012 where we see candidates with Japanese names, but Chamorro in identity.

Did you know.....?

That there were Japanese settlers on Guam as early as the 1860s?

During the term of Spanish Governor Francisco Moscoso y Lara (1866-1871), a private company, the Sociedad Agrícola, was founded to bring over Japanese farmers to hopefully exploit the agricultural potential of the Marianas.  The venture failed.  Some of the Japanese brought over died, and the rest all returned to Japan.

No comments:

Post a Comment