Monday, December 29, 2014


Mr. K. Sawada, a Japanese merchant, was living a comfortable life on Guam since around 1908. Though a long-time Guam resident, he never fully entered into local society besides selling his wares and having friendly business relations with other merchants. His wife, Nao, was Japanese. Unlike other Japanese men who became Catholic because they married Chamorro women, he and his family did not convert.

Sawada took a trip to his native country, specifically to Tokyo, in March of 1933. This was less than a month after Japan withdrew completely from the League of Nations, which pointed to Japan as the cause of the problems in Manchuria. Japan's growing isolation from world diplomacy created in many the impression that Japan were the "bad boys" of the global scene.

On Guam, Sawada said, this negative feeling towards Japanese could be felt. Sawada's comments were reported in more than one Japanese newspaper. He said there was a desire on the part of some on Guam to drive the Japanese out, at least those who had not married into local society. In fact, seven such Japanese males left Guam permanently that March.

The Japanese on Guam, numbering in the 40s, worked as merchants, tailors, barbers, fishermen, carpenters, blacksmiths, cooks and farmers, making more money than Chamorros doing the same work. This, also, did not help Japanese-Chamorro relations.

The interesting thing, Sawada said, was that some of the children of these Japanese, being half Chamorro, supported the idea of forcibly repatriating some of the Japanese residents of Guam.

Sawada did not live long enough to see the ultimate result of Japan's diplomatic divorce from the rest of the world. He died before World War II began. His widow, Nao, lived long enough to gloat when the Japanese flag flew over Guam, and she made life difficult for some locals during the war. Mysteriously, she disappeared when the Americans invaded Guam.

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