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

Naoto Sudo, Kogakuin University

This article deals with the voices from the area of Micronesia that was — or currently is — under the rule of Japan and the United States, and which therefore has been colonized militarily, culturally, and economically by both of these countries directly and deeply. Especially since the 1980s, literary texts from Micronesia focus critically on Japan and the United States. Furthermore, I will discuss Japanese literature, which also critiques the occupation of Micronesia by Japan and the United States, and argue that especially since the 1980s these texts can be considered “postcolonial.”

In this period, the literature and criticism of the Western and formerly-colonized non-Western worlds substituted for “liberal humanist readings by critics of Commonwealth literature, the (newly re-christened) ‘postcolonial literatures’ were at a stroke regarded as politically radical and locally situated, rather than universally relevant” (McLeod 25). In keeping with this movement, criticizing American and Japanese relations with Micronesia — the United States’ military and cultural hegemonic presence and Japan’s colonial history and post-war economic/tourist (neo-colonialist) surge — some contemporary Japanese writers challenge conventional modes of representation of the Pacific. In this article, I use the term “postcolonial” to refer to such attempts to resist powerful colonialist views.

The focal point of this article, then, is the way in which Micronesian texts resist colonization and influence Japanese texts. Indeed, it is still difficult to negotiate between Japanese and Micronesian works in a kind of dialogue between former colonizer and colonized. As Mark Skinner points out, “the development and promotion of creative writing in Micronesia is growing but still in its infancy” (4). According to Skinner’s categorization of Micronesian works, there was (and is) only one single work categorized as a “novel.” Yet the only Micronesian “novel,” Mariquita, turns out to be a text of importance in its articulation of Micronesian postcolonial subjectivity. This article will examine the representations of a Guamanian Chamorro “self” and its relations to American and Japanese imperialisms in Mariquita, and show how the focus of literature shifts from the 1980s to the 1990s, arguing that this shift of Guamanian self-representation corresponds to that of Japanese representation of Micronesia in the 1980s-1990s.

Postcolonialism from Guam: Mariquita’s “Tragedy”

Mariquita is a landmark work in Micronesian literary history: it was first published in 1982 by PPH & Co. in Agana, Guam, the principal center for creating and publishing literary work in Micronesia, entitled Mariquita: A Guam Story, and republished in 1986 by Institute of Pacific Studies of the University of the South Pacific, in Suva, Fiji, the hub of “Pacific island literature” publishing, entitled Mariquita: A Tragedy of Guam. In Micronesia, where “Americanization” has permeated the islands under the pressure of US military and political power, “postcolonial” writing’s target ought to be US hegemony or the modern Western literary world, as with writing from former colonies in Polynesia and Melanesia. Yet Mariquita highlights Japan’s wartime occupation of Guam as well as US rule. The author, Chris Perez Howard, was born in Guam in 1940 of an American father and a Guamanian Chamorro mother, and was raised in the US. Mariquita is a story about his mother’s life: her happy girlhood, love and marriage with his father, and her suffering and “mysterious” death under Japan’s invasion during World War Two. But Mariquita is not a simple biography. The author writes in the preface: “I never realized that the history of Guam was so confusing and so often contradictory. To try and decipher the truth from conversation so richly embroidered with imagination was also difficult. But the most difficult was trying to remain emotionally uninvolved when the story was about my mother” (Howard vi). He, therefore, wrote this story both as “history” and as “literature.” Actually, he weaves photographs, letters, diaries, newspaper clippings, and other items from those days into the text along with archival research and oral family testimony about Guam and his mother.

Mariquita’s postcolonial intervention can be seen in its critical representation of Japanese imperialism. Japanese imperialism emphasizes “sameness” resulting from its policy of assimilation, with which explicit social and economic segregation is regarded as compatible. Mark Peattie examines how the assimilation and segregation were compatible in Japan’s mandatory territory of Micronesia: while the watchword of the “merciful, philanthropic Japan Empire” was cast over Japan’s colonies, the Micronesians were fixed at the lowest strata of the subjects in the Empire, discriminated socially and economically (219-220). However, Mariquita shows that, unlike the situation in Japan’s mandatory territory of Micronesia, in Guam, Japanization was superficial because of prior Americanization and also that the “natives” were treated more harshly (oppressed rather than assimilated) because they were seen to be allied to and tainted by America:

The “Japanization” of Guam peaked during the summer of 1942. The island and all of the towns had been given Japanese names. The schools were re-opened to teach Japanese language and traditions. All American books were burned. The young children were required to attend classes each morning, and instead of pledging allegiance to the American flag, they now bowed to the emperor of Japan. If they were late for school, they were slapped or struck with sticks. People between the ages of thirteen and sixty attended evening classes twice a week. Gradually, as more people began living in semi-seclusion in rural areas and others found excuses for not attending, few adults were left in the educational program. (Howard 64)

The Japanese Imperial Forces destroy the peace and harmony of Guam and Mariquita’s newly-married life. The people run about trying to escape the ravages of the war. Her husband is imprisoned and taken away to Japan. Mariquita thinks “how much she hate[s] the barbarians who [disrupted] their happy life” (Howard 62, my emphasis). The “cruelties” of Japanese soldiers and the “fear and hardship” of Guamanians during the Japanese naval rule from March 1942 to March 1944 are depicted in some detail. Mariquita exposes from the viewpoint of the colonized how empty the Japanization of Guam was and the illusory nature of the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.”

Mariquita’s postcolonial criticism also turns against the US military action in Guam, although not so acutely as that against Japan’s invasion. Despite the author’s emotional investment in the drama of his mother’s death, he attempts an objective, “factual” treatment of history. The epilogue steps out of pro-American position based on emotional links to the mother’s persona and assumes an even-handed Chamorro position which substitutes for the mother. There he writes, for instance:

The sadness I feel for those who suffered injustice at the hands of the Japanese is deep, but I do not hate. The wanton bombing of the island by the Americans, especially the city of Agana, which had to be bulldozed to restore any semblance of order, to the extent that the old Spanish bridge now only points to where a river once existed, is to me equally unjust. (Howard 88)

Mariquita suggests that “a tragedy of Guam” consists not only in Japan’s outrage upon Mariquita (Guam) but in the fact that she could not avoid it despite her trust in the US’s protection. While the Guamanians are “confident that the Americans soon would liberate them” (Howard 63), the “evil deeds” of Japanese soldiers attempt to make a victim of Mariquita: she is attached to the army as a “comfort woman.” One day she is tortured when disobeying the head taicho, and is led away to the woods by a Japanese official. It seems that she is killed there, but her body is never found despite a thorough search by her relatives, friends, and American troops conducted after “the Americans had liberated the island of Guam” (Howard 86). Mariquita’s body is an immortal postcolonial body rejecting Japanese soldiers’ rape and avoiding American troops’ identification of its death.

Thus, Mariquita is a representation of the matrix of Guam’s national identity as well as the parent of the author. At the same time, with her immortality, Guam’s national identity is indomitable on the one hand but fixed on the other. The depiction of her (Guam’s) cultural hybridity, although having some postcoloniality in its criticism of imperial powers, lacks postcolonial diversity or provisionality to intervene in traditional frameworks of colonialist fantasy.

With respect to its emphasis on cultural hybridity in Pacific islands, Mariquita is akin to contemporary works from the other Pacific areas and anti-colonialist works by Western writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Louis Becke, Somerset Maugham, and so on. Indeed, Guam depicted in Mariquita is neither an “immaculate paradise” as in Herman Melville’s Typee nor a “contaminated paradise lost” as in his Omoo, which are both long-standing colonial tropes on the Pacific (Pearson).

In Mariquita, however, Guam is, so to speak, a “modern syncretic paradise” although inequalities are alluded to: “Life on Guam was peaceful and harmonious. … The relationship between the Americans and Guamanians was overtly one of friendship and mutual respect. Racial prejudice, if any existed, was hidden” (Howard 23). The “paradise” has its ground on essentialist views of Guamanians’ “propensity for harmony” and American soldiers’ “exemplary character” (Howard 23). The text juxtaposes the paradisiacal image of the South Seas with the infernal image of savage worlds, another stereotypical image of the Pacific, which the text depicts as a battlefield instead of man-eaters’ island. Such juxtaposition conforms to the South-Sea representation in the film South Pacific. Mariquita paradoxically valorizes the powerful Pacific images, about which Rob Wilson argues: “Hollywood … operated with the Department of Defense to install a ‘concrete fantasy’ and images of the American Pacific as South Pacific” (359).

Mariquita is also not at arm’s length from racial and gender discourses in colonialist fantasy, although Mariquita is not a stereotypical “pure” Pacific girl. Her Americanized lifestyle and sense of values so disappoint Eddie, her American husband, that he reprimands her for her lack of “pride in her own culture” (Howard 38), saying:

“Tippy, when I fell in love and married you, I also loved and married your culture and I don’t want to lose it. It certainly is confusing and mixed up, but it’s still your culture. You don’t have to give up your identity to become true Americans.” (Howard 40)

This episode suggests that indigeneity of the colonized (“Chamorro-ness”) is “discovered” by the colonizers (Americans). In Euro-American archives, “Chamorro” implies voluntarily domesticated natives, compared with uncivilized natives called “Kanaka”; such dichotomies of natives as “good Indian” or “bad Indian” (e.g., “available female and hostile male”) form the keynote of European colonial myths to justify their colonization (Hulme). In this sense Mariquita is analogous to Pocahontas. For the American husband, Mariquita ought to be a “comprehensible other,” both assimilated and differentiated — something the colonizer can find to be both exotic and accessible; someone he can be proud to possess. Eddie’s reprimand implies that despite its assimilation policy, US imperialism emphasizes “differences” rather than “similarities.” Guamanians, however deeply Americanized as Mariquita was, have never been regarded as Americans ever since the US military captured Guam from Spain in 1898. That is “a fact which upset Mariquita because she considered herself to be an American” (Howard 36). However, the text pushes the criticism into the background to develop variations of colonialist illusions: the colonized (Guamanians) admire the domination and assimilation by the colonizer (Americans), and Western civilization (the US) delivers good natives (Guam) from evil savages (Japan). The liberation theology discourse of Spanish Catholicism is taken over and transformed by that of US militarism.

The transracial love of the colonizing man and the colonized woman is also typical of European colonialist love romances. Mary Louise Pratt argues that the marriage plot in colonial texts is a “romantic transformation of a particular form of colonial sexual exploitation” (95). Mariquita reproduces the typical colonial trope — a happy marriage between a white man and an indigenous woman, their reluctant painful separation, and her tragic death — a pattern depicted in popular colonial fiction on the Pacific such as Le Mariage de Loti, Pierre Loti’s influential work which, according to Robert Nicole, presented “a romantic escape for the millions locked in the web of the industrial revolution” (106). In the work set in Tahiti, fantastic dreams of interracial marriage — the image of the devoted Polynesian wife whose marriage to a white husband allows her to rise in social status and economic security — are undermined by the male colonizer. Indeed, Mariquita transforms this colonial “tragedy” of transracial marriage into a postcolonial form to such an extent that it creates Guam’s national identity. In colonialist as well as nationalist writing, Ania Loomba points out, “racial and sexual violence are yoked together by images of rape, which in different forms, becomes an abiding and recurrent metaphor for colonial relations” (164). Whereas Mariquita’s postcolonial challenge refers to the colonialist possession by Japanese rapists, it does not fully extend to the other colonialist possession by Americans, which made the challenge possible. As the result, Mariquita resembles recurrent icons of miserable women of color.

Unlike Mariquita, Jesus Naputi’s novel Nightmare Near the Kiosk is a work which, in the author’s words, “attempts to bring to surface some points where historians disagree” (Author’s Note). The story is set in Guam during the initial landing of the Imperial Forces of Japan — a kiosk, which is “still standing after surviving the rampant Japanese Occupation” and is “situated in Plaza de Espana serving many different functions of both government and private activities” (Author’s Note). The depiction of Guam in Nightmare, as in Mariquita, is based on opinions of ordinary people interviewed who annually commemorate the “liberation” with their gratitude. In Guam, “the ‘liberation’ of the Chamorros by the Americans is memorialized annually by the island community”: “the ‘liberation’ of the people is met with the people’s gratitude, which is taken as an irrefutable sign of American patriotism” (Diaz 152). Nevertheless, the two works are different in description of Guamanians’ “American patriotism.”

In Naputi’s work, Pedro, a Guamanian Chamorro, is reluctantly convinced that he gave “his body and soul” to the US Navy for “the foolishness of sitting in the truck doing nothing except waiting for something to happen,” when the Japanese Forces launch their attack on his home island (4). The narrative expresses distrust of US rule through criticism against the Chief, a “myrmidon,” who, in Pedro’s words, is “afraid to fire at those planes in fear of giving them the exact location of the Governor’s Palace” (7):

“… Too bad the Chamorros have to suffer because the Americans and the Japanese have invented a war. See, the Chamorros have fled because the Americans failed to adequately train and properly arm them in order to counter the Japanese offense. I don’t blame them, really. They have put up with the Insular Guard. Well, it failed, and now they have to search for their displaced families.” (49)

Pedro professes himself “a Chamorro,” disagreeing with his Chamorro colleague’s popularly accepted pro-American opinion that “I’m an American by my belief”: “[When Americans come back] I’ll be fighting side by side with them against the Japanese” (12). As compared with Mariquita, Nightmare Near the Kiosk more explicitly describes suspicion against the US: the latter clearly attributes Chamorros’ suffering and fear during the war to the indifferent and inappropriate control of the US as well as to Japan’s cruel invasion. Yet the significant postcolonial voice also turns out to be a demonstration of Guam’s “tragedy.”

Postcolonialism in Contemporary Japanese Texts on Micronesia

Japanese writer Atsushi Nakajima’s wartime works exceptionally critique, although implicitly, incoherence of Japanese imperialist discourses that emphasize Japan’s successful assimilation of the colonized. Concerning Japanese imperialist discourse Kang Sang-Jung points out that it can be characterized as the simultaneous process of double desires to avoid Western territorial ambition and to use the discourse’s hegemonic power over other Asian/Pacific regions (31-32). Based on the doubling, I have once argued, Japanese colonialist discourse on the Pacific differs from Western models: the former emphasizes more “sameness” than “differences” of the Japanese colonizer and Pacific colonized (Sudo 2000). Nakajima depicts Micronesians as the “incomprehensible” others, articulating his feeling of incongruity with “Japanized” Micronesia (Sudo 1998).

Despite the postcoloniality that Nakajima presents in wartime, contemporary Japanese literary texts on Micronesia are still under the influence of Japanese imperialist discourse. Not only that, the discourse has also been affecting Micronesians. Just as for Guamanians, as seen in Mariquita and Nightmare Near the Kiosk, the Japanese are “newcome” destroyers of more than forty years’ secure US rule, so for Palauans, Americans are “newcome” rulers to demolish what the Japanese built up for about thirty years. Palauans disapprove of the discourse of Americanization, which treats them as less than equal, despite the apparent principle of equality before God: in contrast, Japanization emphasizes their equality before the Tenno (Emperor of Japan). Although neither Japanese nor American paradigms treat the Palauans as equal to their colonizers, comparatively speaking, the former highlights similarity, and the latter, otherness. Palau, once the center of Japanese-owned Micronesia since the Nanyo-cho (South Seas Government) was established in Koror in 1922, is still mostly influenced by prewar Japanization in the area despite its postwar Americanization. Dirk Ballendorf asserts that “[w]hile Micronesia is politically under the sphere of the United States, it is undoubtedly under the economic sphere of Japan” (Colonial Experience 13). He also insists: “[T]he Japanese provided very sound models of industry and hard work to Palauans which … stood Palauans in good stead today in a more competitive world. The Japanese presence was the reason … why the Palauans today are considered to be among the most vigorous and determined of the ‘new’ Micronesians” ( Micronesian Views 9).

With respect to Micronesian views of the Japanese, Ballendorf and Wakako Higuchi point out that Micronesians — and especially Palauans — tend to have positive views of the Japanese, ever since the period of Japan’s mandatory administration (however, some Micronesians express their complaints about the incomplete war damage compensation payments). The positive views of the Japanese by Micronesians is closely related to their discontent with the US administration: “It is fashionable in Micronesia today to chide the Americans about the prosperous times under Japanese rule, while at the same time pointing to American economic neglect. Micronesians can see that economic activity in the islands can achieve some degree of viability, but wonder at the worth and relevance of American freedom and opportunity for all as a way of securing it” (Ballendorf, Colonial Experience 9). As Ballendorf writes, “Micronesians who are in the midst of formulating criticism of the US presence are fond of saying that they were ‘better off’ in the Japanese times when at least everyone could work for money, rather than it is nowadays when unemployment and underemployment is rife, returning college graduates cannot find jobs, and various social ills abound” (Micronesian Views 11). Similarly, Higuchi contends that “[v]iewed from an island angle, there is a saying which symbolized Japanese policy toward islanders and related their fundamental attitude toward both the Japanese and American administrative period — ‘Japan had kindness to do many things for the islanders but American did nothing except give some money’” (Micronesia 189).

The typical idealized image for pre- and postwar Micronesians, according to the scholars, suggests that the elderly long for the past of Japanese rule, while the young reveal their interest in learning Japanese culture and language. They regard the Japanese as “very competent businessmen and serious developers” and enjoy “the Japanese life style of eating rice and misosoup” (Ballendorf, Colonial Experience 13; Higuchi, Islander’s Japanese Assimilation 12, 19).

Similar views of Micronesia are evident in Japanese postwar literature also. At the same time, however, the abiding colonialist views are intermingled with postcolonial aspects in contemporary texts. Japanese postcolonial critical modes typically converge on the popular monster film Godzilla, first released in 1954, two years after about seven years of US occupation of Japan, and immediately after the exposure to radiation of a Japanese fishing boat and a crewmember’s death in US nuclear testing in Bikini. The film criticizes modern civilization and the Cold War, identifying the Pacific monster and the Japanese as the same US bomb victims. The postcolonial modes emerge and are appropriated in 1980s texts such as Koji Tanaka’s Chiisaki Kami no Shimajima (The Small Islands of God, 1981), Natsuki Ikezawa’s Natsu no Asa no Seisoken (The Stratosphere on a Summer Morning, 1984), and Man Arai’s Sansetto Bichi Hoteru (The Sunset Beach Hotel, 1987). These texts harshly criticize US and Japanese military and economic colonialism, challenging the ideology of “sameness” — or view of Micronesians as a less-evolved potential Self — which Godzilla takes over from Japanese colonial discourses. In the texts, however, Micronesia is both a victim and counterattacker, similar to Godzilla itself. The images of the Japanese as “assailants” and of Micronesians as victims also resonate in Chris Perez Howard’s and Jesus Naputi’s texts in the 1980s.

The Japanese postcolonial works depict self-division, or even self-hatred, reproducing Japanese imperialism’s “doubling” in a new mode: both Japanese people’s criticism/admiration for the West (especially the US) and disdain/affection for the Pacific end up in self-destruction.

How can the faceless self-image of the schizophrenic Japanese colonizer colonized, as well as the Guamanian self-representation of colonized victims, be undermined to make a further step toward more decolonized representations of Self/Other? For that, the key is to dismantle the discourse of tugs of war between “Americanization” and “Japanization,” or a question which Mariquita’s postcolonial scheme cannot grow out of: which colonizer is better or, at least, less evil, the Japanese or Americans?

Polynesian indigenous writings do not ask such a question. The writers acknowledge that the dominant experience is different — there is only one generic Western colonizer to focus on. In the “new South Pacific Society,” as Epeli Hau‘ofa points out, the local elite, and the colonial Anglo-Saxon elite from/in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US, and Britain form one general privileged group in “a single regional economy” sharing “a single dominant culture with increasingly marginalized local sub-cultures shared by the poorer classes” (1).

Japanese colonial and neo-colonial discourses have been arguing that the Japanese were and are better and “closer” patrons to Micronesians than the white rulers from Spain, Germany, and the US. Natsuki Ikezawa shows the futility and self-deception of this argument in his The Stratosphere on a Summer Morning. The Japanese protagonist, Kimura, cast away and living on a desert island in the Marshalls, thinks himself to be more acceptable to island spirits than is the American man, Myron, the only other habitant on the island. In contrast with Kimura, who is obliged to survive his “primordial” collecting life, Myron is dependent on modern conveniences that he has taken into the island. Yet Kimura culminates in depending on them, no longer “closer” to the spirits than Myron. In the 1990s, efforts (not only to problematize but also) to go beyond the "tug" discourse emerge both from Micronesia and Japan.

A Postcolonial Shift in 1990s Texts from Micronesia and Japan

Such refusal or appropriation of the colonialist argument in Micronesian and Japanese literary scenes results in transformation of Micronesian images of colonized victim both in Micronesian and Japanese texts. This transformation has the political background of the independence of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 1986, and the Republic of Palau in 1994. Vincente Diaz, Pohnpeian/Filipino born and raised on Guam, points out that the US “had already abandoned Guam to an imminent Japanese invasion” in his article “Simply Chamorro: Telling Tales of Demise and Survival in Guam”:

… indeed, the supposed “liberation” of the Chamorros three years later was only America’s return with a vengeance. This vengeful act was directed at Japan, but it was also aimed at establishing a huge forward base and depot from which to carry out America’s military operations in the Far East. The massive destruction of Guam by American bombardment and immediate postwar base construction would profoundly alter not only the remaining topography and cartography of Chamorro culture as it withstood three centuries of Spanish colonization; it would also radically transform the culture of the topography and the cartography of the land itself. (157)

In contrast to Mariquita and Nightmare Near the Kiosk, which underscore “tragic Guam” and “miserable Chamorros” (although unlike the former, the latter does not glorify their “liberation”), Diaz presents tales of Chamorro in which there is “no image of war-torn refugees liberated by American freedom fighters” (151).

Defying colonialist embedded perceptions of Chamorro people and culture as shattered, dying, or immutable, Diaz asserts as follows:

… Guam’s history does not have to be understood as the definitive Euro-Americanization of the Chamorro people at the tragic expense of indigenous culture. Nor does Chamorro culture need to be understood in terms of an immutably bounded, neatly contained thing that was once upon a time characterized by essential qualities, pure and untainted, as Chamorro culture has (a)historically been conceived and represented. (143)

Diaz’s intention to establish epistemologically decolonized Chamorro identities (that go beyond Mariquita’s self-representation) is resonant in the local literary journal Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery.

Storyboard, which first appeared in print in 1991, challenges definitive fixed images of Guam/Micronesia and Japan. It is published annually, a joint venture of the Guam Writers’ Guild and the Division of English and Applied Linguistics at the University of Guam. The editorial statement of the first volume states: “To the present, there has been no outlet in Micronesia for the kind of writing which might earn a permanent place in Pacific literature. The rationale behind Storyboard, therefore, is to provide a vehicle for publication not only in English, but also in indigenous languages and the languages of the diverse immigrants who make their homes here. … We recognize that the imaginations of writers in the region are not bounded by geography, and we interpret our subtitle to include imagery from the Pacific as well as of the Pacific” (Lobban 9). The publication of the journal, a collection of miscellaneous local voices, is modeled after the movement of Polynesian and Melanesian postcolonial writing. As the fourth volume editor, Jeannine Talley, writes:

One does not have to dig too deeply to discover why there is an accumulated body of literature produced by Polynesians and Melanesians, but a dire lack of representative works from Micronesia. Support and encouragement. For at least three decades the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and the University of Papua New Guinea have encouraged the development of indigenous writers in the South Pacific through workshops, special training and emphasis on creative writing and finally by publishing the efforts of a number of writers. Unfortunately there has not been this kind of nurturing of indigenous writers in Micronesia. In an effort to end this kind of inequity Storyboard was created, publishing its first volume in 1991. (5)

Through the emulative effort of Storyboard, Micronesia is producing postcolonial representations that not only emphasize both its hybridity and locality but appropriate colonial discourses by making positive use of its own colonial experiences.

Four poems by Anne Perez Hattori (“Fanoghe Chamoru,” “Forefathers,” “Halom Tano’,” and “Thieves”) object to conventional (negative) images and historiography on Guam, which have been upheld by colonial and patriarchal authorities. “Fanoghe Chamoru,” the Chamorro title meaning “Stand Chamorros,” and which is also the title of Guam’s anthem, presents a lofty national image of “sunshine” — “Celestial crimson, / Sublime scarlet, / Religious rays of ruby REDness, / Arouse my alienated allegiance” — with “fresh-found fortitude” to withstand “sleep,” “exhaustion” and “fatigue” (40-41). Thus Hattori takes over Mariquita’s indomitable spirit and at the same time rejects her miserable image. In “Forefathers,” Hattori presents postcolonial gender consciousness deficient in Mariquita. The second poem objects to Guamanian historiography filled with sexual and colonial suppression rendering “our foreFathers” “everything / or something / or even anything / to us, / Chamorro natives.” They are (“like washington and jefferson and franklin lincoln”) “our historical superHEroes,” “gentleMEN,” “or so We’ve been educated, / again and again.” But Perez Hattori refutes the accepted idea, saying that it is “us, Chamorro natives” that “work the soil, / ride the sea, / inhale our exhalations, / and inherit the land / immortally”:

did they plant suni [taro] and pick lemmai [breadfruit]
and beseech the blessings of guelas yan guelus [female and male ancestral spirits]
under the sweltering sun of latitude 14?

(Perez Hattori 42-43)

The emphatic depiction of native animals, plants, and spirits as Guam’s anti-colonialist symbols is quite different from Mariquita’s admiration of Guam as a hybrid paradise. The significant difference in their postcolonial schemes can also be found in “Halom Tano’.” Perez Hattori describes halom tano’ (the jungle) as the locale and symbol of Chamorro culture’s survival, which is also the main theme of Diaz’s article:

years have passed and the jungle’s still there

despite the military’s invasion of our land,
the pigs still play and the binadu [deer] still bark
… and all
the jungle’s still there,
forever filled with sheltering spirits
forever calling me home.

(Perez Hattori 44-45)

Unlike Mariquita highlighting Guam’s tragedy caused by imperialists’ military action, the poem focuses on being “still there” despite such invasions. Lastly, in “Thieves,” an enumeration of colonialist stereotypes and clichés such as “thieves,” “immoral,” “half-caste,” “infantile,” “illiteracy,” and “laziness” — (“UNeducated, UNdeveloped, UNcivilized”) — is concluded by denunciation of colonialist opportunism:

Now they tell us
we are simply, sadly, contemptibly


(Perez Hattori 46)

This poem speaks for Mariquita what she cannot retort against her American husband’s reprimand quoted earlier. Hattori’s postcolonial intervention produces a Chamorro identity resisting accepted images and dismantling colonial shackles from which Mariquita’s self-representation is not free.

As a new Pacific writing journal, the Micronesian journal Storyboard is distinguished by its close relation to and focus on Japanese elements. The thematic focus for the third volume is “the invasion of Guam and Saipan by US military forces to oust the Japanese occupiers of the islands at the close of World War II,” associated with its fiftieth anniversary (Martin 7). Its General Editor, James Martin, maintains that “[t]he destinies of Japan and of many of the Pacific islands are intertwined historically, economically, and culturally” (8). And notably the new Micronesian journal perceives the expulsion of the Japanese Forces from Guam and Saipan by the US not as “liberation” but as another “invasion.” The volume does not depict stereotypical images of the Japanese from war literature as bloodthirsty invaders, daredevil suicide attackers, and rapists as do Mariquita and Nightmare Near the Kiosk or James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. For example, Zan Bockes’s poem “Banzai Cliff, Saipan” thus portrays the mass suicide by Japanese civilians and military:

To give your life
for the freedom of death,
for a pride no American
can understand — this was your gift.
Your descendents have left prayers
in these bushes where your feet
stumbled, left hope
that you or I would never
bloody this shore again.

(Bockes 9)

It is important to keep in mind significant differences among Micronesian texts. On the wave of “postcolonial literatures,” the postcolonial voices from Micronesia have some characteristics common to “Pacific literature” — protest against racial discrimination, assertion of a viable local culture, critiques of globalization and continued economic and cultural independence, and the tensions and crossings between tradition and modernity (Sharrad 3-7). Micronesia’s diversity has been the major source of interregional conflicts of interests, which US military and Japanese economic powers have taken advantage of. However, the differences derived from the area’s particular colonial and post-colonial interactions with imperial powers can be regarded as an asset to create new postcolonial discourses.

“Motherhood” functions as a source of such creativity in Micronesia. Diaz thinks highly of Chamorro women as responsible for indigenous survival and revival:

Local Chamorro women — patronized and stereotyped as “pretty Chamorro girls” — marry non-Chamorro men and produce Chamorro children. A powerful tradition of “motherhood,” locally called Si Nana, was responsible for the survival and revival of Chamorro families, or the familia, through what is called custumbren Chamorro. (Diaz 163)

This upholding of “local Chamorro women” is not only a feature of colonialist discourse but also a producing center of postcolonial resistance, as indicated by Mariquita (Chris’s mother). Local women’s Spanish, American, Chinese, or Japanese surnames (“Hattori” is a Japanese surname) “do not mark the limits of Chamorro cultural survival” (Diaz 163).

The Pacific image of “motherhood” is also a powerful tradition in Japanese colonial literature (Kawamura 98). In pre- and postwar literature Micronesia has been a locale of migration, war, love, conspiracy, and adventure, where its “motherhood” heals mental fatigue and wound. But representations of the Pacific as a producing center of postcolonial intervention can be seen in Japanese literary works from the 1990s. In works such as Natsuki Ikezawa’s Mariko/Marikita (Mariko/Mariquita, 1990) and Mashiasu Giri no Shikkyaku (The Downfall of Macias Gilly, 1993), and Nobuhiko Kobayashi’s Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Shima (The Hottest Island in the World, 1991), Micronesia is no longer a wretched victim of Japanization and Americanization although it is still a locale of tourism, fieldwork, dictatorship, and coup. The texts depict it as a postcolonial space which metamorphoses or Pacificizes Japanese stereotypes of pretty Oriental girls and rigorous old worriers into evasive multifaceted characters, who together with indigenous Micronesians outwit Japanese and local authorities. In “Mariko/Mariquita,” for example, an indigenized Japanese girl, Mariko, is called “Mariquita,” the name of Micronesia’s postcolonial icon.

The texts represent “motherhood” which not only is responsible for the survival of indigenous Micronesian “self” but also affects the transformation of Japanese “self.” In The Downfall of Macias Gilly, Ikezawa’s depiction of decolonized Micronesia as unknown “other” defies colonial fantasy through circulative, ever-lasting locations and dislocations of self/other, without resorting to “Godzilla attack.” The eponymous Micronesian protagonist, the president of a fictional Micronesian state, is heroic and adroit enough to sustain its independence without its being a puppet of its ex-colonizing powers, Japan and the US. However, one of the principal resources of his power is derived from his experiences in Japan: Gilly is more “Japanized” than the Japanese, though not necessarily pro-Japanese. Japanization and Americanization also play a tug of war in the Japanese text. Micronesians are so inured to being under the missionary patronage and colonial rule that they cannot live without depending on such colonial control. Such a habit of dependence of Micronesians, who have more than four hundred years’ history of colonization — much more than that of Melanesians or Polynesians — is what Gilly strives to overcome. Yet when Gilly has usurped the presidency by assassinating the pro-American former president to prevent the nation from becoming degraded into a US puppet, Gilly falls from power. Against the despotic leader of the material world of the Micronesian nation, his close adviser Emeliana, a young “spiritualistic medium,” is an agent sent by senior conference members of the Island of Melchor, the state’s “spiritual” center, to find out the truth of the affair of Gilly’s assassination of the former President and set him on the path to his downfall. Melchor is Gilly’s birth- and death-place; Emeliana resembles his mother at her younger age and conceives his child. In the text “motherhood” with “spirituality” curbs dictatorship conspiring with neo-colonialist power, for the purpose of survival and revival of indigenous culture. Micronesians are depicted as real tough customers to counterattack colonial and local authorities without employing violence.

Indeed, the Japanese works’ depiction of the Pacific as a remedy for the identity crisis may be an expression of abiding colonialist exoticism. Japanese postcolonialism is still closely related to the colonialist aspect. Nevertheless, to the shift of representation of Micronesians from pitiable colonial victims into enigmatic postcolonial agents, the political decolonization in Micronesia and postcolonial cultural movements from Guam is relevant. The contemporary Japanese writers such as Ikezawa find a cure for Japanese identity crisis in Micronesian nationalism, which is based on syncretism and anti-imperialism. Kojin Karatani asserts that Japanese colonialist ideology of “sameness,” taking domination for affection, produces all the more unintelligible animosity in the ruled and makes the ex-rulers forget the past (5). Despite pro-Japanese views from Micronesia, such animosity and colonialist fears of it have been the major driving force to produce postcolonial works in Guam and Japan respectively, with self-criticism for following US imperialism. Such shifts cause us to wonder what changes in self-image may be witnessed in future literary works from the decolonized Micronesia of the twenty-first century. Moreover, how will the depiction of American and Japanese influence be depicted in these texts?

Works Cited

Ballendorf, Dirk Anthony. “Colonial Experience in Micronesia: A Legacy for Japan and America.” Unpublished presentation, 15-23 Mar. 1982.

—. “Micronesian Views of the Japanese: The Palauan Case.” Unpublished presentation, 3 Oct. 1984.

Bockes, Zan. “Banzai Cliff, Saipan.” Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery 3 (1994): 9.

Diaz, Vincente M. “Simply Chamorro: Telling Tales of Demise and Survival in Guam.” Voyaging through the Contemporary Pacific. Ed. David Hanlon and Geoffrey M. White. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000. 141-170.

Hattori, Anne Perez. “Fanoghe Chamoru,” “Forefathers,” “Halom Tano’,” and “Thieves.” Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery 5 (1998): 40-41, 42-43, 44-45, 46.

Hau‘ofa, Epeli. “The New South Pacific Society: Integration and Independence.” Class and Culture in the South Pacific. Ed. Antony Hooper et al. Auckland: Centre for Pacific Studies of the U of Auckland, and Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies of the U of the South Pacific, 1987. 1-15.

Higuchi, Wakako. “Micronesia under the Japanese Administration: Interviews with Former South Sea Bureau and Military Officials.” Unpublished presentation, 31 May. 1987.

—. “Islander’s Japanese Assimilation and Their Sense of Discrimination.” Unpublished presentation, 14 Oct. 1993.

Howard, Chris Perez. Mariquita: A Tragedy of Guam. Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies of the U of the South Pacific, 1986.

Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492-1797. London and New York: Methuen, 1986.

Kang Sang-Jung. “Showa no Shuen to Gendai Nihon no ‘Shinsho Chiri/Rekishi’: Kyokasho no Naka no Chosen o Chushin to Shite [The End of the Showa Era and Mental Pictures of Geography/History’ in Contemporary Japan: Korea in Japanese School Textbooks].” Shiso (1989): 26-55.

Karatani, Kojin. “Nihon no Shokuminti Shugi no ‘Kigen’ [‘Origins’ of Japanese Colonialism].” Rev. of Kindai Nihon to Shokuminchi [Modern Japan and Its Colonies]. Ed. Shinobu Oe et al. Vol. 4. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1993: 5-6.

Kawamura, Minato. Nanyo, Karafuto no Nihon Bungaku [Japanese Literature on the South Seas and Sakhalin]. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1994.

Lobban, Christopher S. “Editorial Statement.” Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery 1 (1991): 9.

Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.

Martin, James E. “Editor’s Comments.” Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery 3 (1994): 7-8.

McLeod, John. Beginning Postcolonialism. Manchester and New York: Manchester UP, 2000.

Naputi, Jesus C. Nightmare Near the Kiosk. Agana, Guam: J. C. Naputi, 1983.

Nicole, Robert. The Word, the Pen, and the Pistol: Literature and Power in Tahiti. Albany: State U of New York P, 2001.

Pearson, Bill. Rifled Sanctuaries: Some Views of the Pacific Islands in Western Literature to 1900. Auckland: Auckland UP, 1984.

Peattie, Mark R. Nan’yō: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese in Micronesia, 1885-1945. Honolulu: U of Hawai‘i P, 1988.

Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

Sharrad, Paul. Albert Wendt and Pacific Literature: Circling the Void. Manchester and New York: Manchester UP, 2003.

Skinner, Mark E. “Contemporary Micronesian Literature: A Preliminary Bibliography.” Unpublished essay. U of Hawai‘i, Honolulu. 1990.

Sudo, Naoto. “Nakajima Atsushi to Nanyo: Mittsu no Datsu-ryoiki, Nanyo-gensetsu [Atsushi Nakajima and the South Seas: Three Ways of ‘Evasion’ and ‘South Seas’ Discourse].” Choiki Bunka Kagaku Kiyo (Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies) 3 (1998): 81-97.

—. “Nanyo-Orientarizumu to Bungaku: Haman Meruviru, Nakajima Atsushi no Dasso [Orientalism vis-à-vis the ‘South Seas’ and Literature: The ‘Escape’ of Herman Melville and Atsushi Nakajima].” Tokyo Daigaku Amerikan Sutadizu (University of Tokyo Journal of American Studies) 5 (2000): 51-68.

Talley, Jeannine E. “Editor’s Comments.” Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery 4 (1996): 5-6.

Wilson, Rob. “Bloody Mary Meets Lois-Ann Yamanaka: Imagining Hawaiian Locality, from South Pacific to Bamboo Ridge and Beyond.” Inside Out: Literature, Cultural Politics, and Identity in the New Pacific. Ed. Vilsoni Hereniko and Rob Wilson. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999. 357-380.