Colonial Mirror Images of Micronesia and Japan: Beyond the Tug of War between "Americanization" and "Japanization"

Naoto Sudo


"Micronesian literature," modeled after "Pacific literature" from Polynesia, is characterized by its involvement in Japanese and American neo/colonialism. Its single "novel" Mariquita reflects Guamanian Chamorros' self-image as victims of the barbarous Japanese Imperial Forces and their gratitude for the US's "liberation" of them. Guam's postcolonial mode is depicted more sharply in Nightmare Near the Kiosk, which attacks US military power as well as Japanese imperialism. In comparison with these 1980s works, however, a shift can be found in 1990s literary discourse from Micronesia, which has been developed in the local journal Storyboard and is epitomized in Vincente Diaz's article. The writers assert their people's positive, provisional, self-determined "self" to overcome the fixed self-image of the wretched under their colonial experiences of "Americanization" and "Japanization." On the other hand, it is said that Micronesians in the area which was placed under Japan's mandatory rule followed by a US trusteeship after World War Two, prefer Japanese to American administration in a sense. Some contemporary Japanese writers make use of and challenge this preference for Japanese imperialism and neo-colonialism in their works. These works mirror Japanese Orientalism vis-À-vis the Pacific: Japanese people's sympathy for and contempt of Micronesia and awe of and antipathy to the US. Those texts criticize not only American military and cultural hegemony toward Japan and Micronesia but also Japanese colonialism regarding Micronesians as "potential Japanese." In this Japanese postcolonial awareness, the change in depiction of Micronesians from colonial victims into postcolonial enigmas can also be seen in the 1980s-1990s.


Pacific literature; Micronesian literature; Micronesian images of the US/Japan; Japanese representations of the Pacific

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