Two Coconuts and a Bonito Stick
After the Japanese participated in WWI on the side of the Allies, they received some Micronesian islands formerly governed by the Germans. The Japanese governed these islands, referred to as the South Seas islands (Nan’yō) according to a League of Nations mandate. The Japanese tried to create and enforce an ethnoracial hierarchy among those living on the islands, including the Chamorro, Kanaka and various Japanese and Okinawan immigrants who worked as colonial officials or laborers, and Korean and Chinese laborers. As with all racial hierarchies, the idealized hierarchy often differed greatly from the lived experiences of various individuals. But the attempts by Japanese colonial officials to try to enforce these divisions suggest an emphasis on hyper-racialization as a tactic to govern Japan's diverse empire.
As a student from Saipan studying in Japan, news of Pedro's graduation was accompanied in the newspaper by his photo and proof of his abilities: a poem he composed and his signature. As is argued throughout the book, showing colonial people "in their own hand" was a way to double down on the supposed gulf between the Japanese and colonial peoples, with respect to their assumed intellectual capabilities. If colonial peoples demonstrated high proficiency or skill in Japanese, "proof" was shown. (Corresponds to Lost Histories, p. 266 footnote 49).
Credit: Tokyo Asahi, February 17, 1922.
A main protagonist of Chapter Six, Ngiraked Atem, a young Palauan who could speak Japanese, was the ideal type of person the Japanese government tried to use to help enforce Japanese policies in the South Seas islands and simultaneously undermine the traditional Palauan leaders. Ngiraked's story is not a straightforward one, however, and he found himself criticized by both the colonial government and local Palauan community. His attempt to marry a Japanese woman was sensationalized and showed the limits of colonial peoples' ability to transgress ethnoracial divisions.
Ngiraked is seated (left) and close friend Kitamura Nobuaki upper right.(Corresponds to Lost Histories, p. 279, footnote 111). Credit: Kitamura Nobuaki, Nan’yō Parao shotō no minzoku. (Osaka: Tōyō Minzoku Hakubutsukan, 1933).