Wednesday, November 4, 2015


The Japanese started getting interested in the Marianas in the late 1800s.

Japan did not become open to the world, of course, until after Commodore Perry, in 1854, placed great pressure on Japan to do so.

Sometime after 1866, the Spanish Governor Moscoso brought in Japanese farmers to revive agriculture on Guam, but the experiment failed and the Japanese who did not die on Guam returned home.

By the 1890s, Japanese merchant ships were visiting Guam and Saipan, and a few Japanese were already residing in Saipan.

When the Americans took over Guam in 1898, the Japanese presence on Guam took off. One of the most prominent was J.K. Shimizu, whose boats went up and down the Marianas, taking passengers and cargo.

But quite a number of other Japanese moved to Guam and opened small businesses and worked at their trades. The majority of them married Chamorro women, becoming Catholic, even if at times just in name.

A few of these Japanese married Chamorro women from the higher social classes.

A list from 1914 tells us which Japanese residents on Guam had business or liquor licenses :

JK Shimizu
S. Takeyama
JH Haniu
T. Aso
T. Shibata
E. Yamamoto
Y. Kiga
K. Takahashi
Juan Matsunaga
Taroka Inouye
B. Ochai
I. Kamo
K. Takemiya
S. Sakakibara
T. Ooka
K. Ooka
K. Okiyama
T. Seimiya
H. Yamashita
Y. Sugiyama
G. Okiyama
Y. Arina
Z. Hatoba
G. Takatsu

Those are A LOT of Japanese - just 15 years after the start of the American administration of Guam.

Not all of these Japanese enterprises lasted or worked out. Some of these last names are familiar to this day, some have disappeared. Later Japanese immigrants came and started businesses like Shinohara, Sawada and Dejima.

But this list shows the importance of the Japanese settlers to Guam in terms of our genealogy and in business.

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