SDHF Newsletter No.279 Book Review Japanese Guam Administration
The Japanese Administration of Guam, 1941-1944:
A Study of Occupation and Integration Policies, with Japanese Oral Histories
McFarland & Company, Inc., 2013
Reviewed by Tadashi Hama
June 15, 2020
Japan landed Guam in December 1941 and occupied till July 1941. Wakako Higuchi, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian National University reflects on Japanese military administration of small lands of Guam to clearly understand Japan’s intentions in the war.
In line with the conventional wisdom, Higuchi states that the military administration “enforced a reign of terror”, implying that Japan’s “real intention” during the war was to rule its area of occupation through terrorism.
However, the reviewer points out that the stories told in this book do not always match with her above statement.
In Guam, in addition to native Chamorros many Japanese people were there working prior to Japanese occupation. Nan’yo Kohatsu(South Sea Development Co.), employed Chamorros with instruction to pay “extreme attention” to Chamorro labor treatment. For Nan’Yo Kohatsu’s Chamorro workers, the “Company’s wage level” was in fact applied.
Actually, Chamorro’s work skill and efficiency was very low of about 70% of Japanese, but it improved about 90% later. Their attitude to work was different from Japanese. “For Japanese, working hard was natural, but on Guam, it was said to be an abusive treatment.”
With a Japanese military presence, there were comfort women and “four or five” comfort stations were created in Guam. A wide range of women worked at the comfort stations. “Japanese, Okinawans, Koreans, Chamorro and Chamorro-Spanish mixed-blood women” staffed these stations and were managed by Japanese and Koreans—there was no talk of enslavement. Both Japanese and Korean “managers” ran the comfort stations, indicating that these establishments were fee-based and not centers of criminal activity. Prior to the Japanese occupation, experienced female Chamorros, “public women”, served as “girlfriends” of US soldiers.
This situation in Guam suggests the situation in other Japan occupied places. There were never situation of “sex slave” nor the word “sex slave” under Japanese occupation.
MOTEKI Hiromichi, Acting Chairman
for KASE Hideaki, Chairman
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact