Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Japanese Catholic priest Father Petero Komatsu
dressed in civilian clothes after his detention by the Americans

Father Komatsu was the only Japanese priest who lived on Guam during the Japanese occupation.  He was ordered to live on Guam by the Japanese government.

From all accounts of people who knew him who are still alive to tell me the story, he was a harmless man.  He kept a low profile and befriended a number of Chamorros, including Pale' Oscar Calvo.

He spoke decent English, too, and was close to one Chamorro family to the extent that he called the matriarch of the family "Mother."  "Go and call mother," he would say.

Komatsu would accompany Pale' Oskåt (Oscar) to a certain ranch owned by relatives.  This ranch was a perfect place, because the owner had prepared it well for the occupation.  Bishop Olano had told the man some time before the war, "Na' listo i lancho-mo, sa' ti apmam siempre man gine'ta hit." 

"Prepare your ranch, because before long we'll all be wearing ge'ta," or Japanese clogs.

One day, Father Komatsu got injured by a piece of wood that slammed into his side.  He had to stay in the hospital, and started to cough up blood.  He was given Chamorro medicine and recovered, but slowly.

Saved some Chamorro Girls

On another day, some Chamorro girls were being told by the Japanese to go join a forced labor crew.  Komatsu knew these girls.  He told the messenger, "Tell the taicho that these girls cannot go work today, because I am sick, and these girls are assisting me."

The girls didn't have to go.

We know that some Chamorros died or were seriously wounded because they had been on these work crews, so God only knows what may have happened had Komatsu not found those girls a convenient excuse.

Komatsu had a local Chamorro servant boy. 


At some point, Komatsu was captured by the Americans, but was found in decent physical condition.  He was taken in a jeep to visit some of his Chamorro friends, and had to break the bad news that some of the family members had been killed.

Komatsu was never found guilty of any wrongdoing and was sent back to Japan.  He did return to Guam in the 60s and maybe even the 70s for a visit.

Father Dueñas strongly contested the presence of Monsignor Fukahori, sent by Japan to inspect church conditions on Guam.  Dueñas contended that Fukahori had no mandate from the Vatican, the only authority that mattered, and that he was an agent of the Japanese government.

Fukahori stayed on Guam only a few months and returned to Japan, filing a report stating how well the Catholics on Guam were faring under Japan.  He was later made a bishop.

Komatsu, on the other hand, stayed on Guam for the whole stint; making friends, keeping quiet and staying out of politics and controversy.  Back in Japan, he remained a simple priest in the Tokyo area and has since died.  RIP

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