Greetings to you all. Fellow Micronesians, lovers of Micronesians and everyone else. Hope you had a pleasant weekend. I know I did
I just returned from a visit to the USA in Micronesia. The great US colony of Guam. I know, I thought it was a territory, but now I know better.
I am always reminded why our founding Fathers decided against the territory or commonwealth option when I visit America in Micronesia, AKA Guam. Coming from the islands, one is always overwhelmed by the noise, crowding, pace and lack of locals. It is refreshing to get back to the “outer islands” which is what some people in Guam consider the sovereign nations of FSM, Palau and RMI. Imagine that, a colony of the US calling sovereign nations with diplomatic ties to the US and seats at the United Nations as “outer islands”. It must be a mistake.
I am always bothered by our story being told by others. How about you? Are you tired of people who live outside of FSM, RMI and Palau telling you what your problems are? Telling you what you need the most? Telling you what you should do? We are 30 years into the Compact of Free Association with the US. When will we tell our own story and others believe that as the truth?
Here is the source of my disappointment in the story-telling of Micronesia. It comes from an expert of Micronesia. In an article titled ‘Japan achieved success in Micronesia unlike any other’ Father Francis X Hezel had this to say about the development of Micronesia – past & present:
He said the Japanese era achieved levels of success that were never matched by the U.S. during its post-war administration of Micronesia, or during the current independence era in the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia, as well as the U.S. Northern Marianas Islands.
Any level of success achieved under foreign rule is NOT a success for the people who are being ruled. I can’t seem to understand the logic here. Let’s see what else was brought up to justify the success of Japan in Micronesia:
“The sugar industry was bound to have an enormous impact on these islands. For instance, the Japanese and Okinawan population in the Northern Marianas exploded, from well under 2,000 in 1920 to more than 40,000 by 1937,” Hezel noted.
Why would that spell success for the Micronesians? A population explosion of foreigners on our islands is a success? Let me share the last insult to Micronesians:
Hezel said sugar cane plantations on Saipan, Tinian and Rota brought in more than 6 million yen, more than all other regional industries combined. Tuna fishing, which dried the fish and turned it into tuna shavings or katsuobushi at factories on Chuuk, Pohnpei, Palau and Saipan, produced revenue of over 5 million yen annually, Hezel said.
And where did that 6 and 5 million yen go? Did it stay in the Islands? Go back to Japan? Who decided where that money was used and for who? We all know the answers.
I have much respect for Father Hezel. He documented our history very well at the Micronesian Seminar and for that I am forever grateful. I am just confused as to why he would point out a time when we, the people of Micronesia, were being ruled as a “success”? It almost seems as if he is saying we are better off being ruled by other countries. I’m sure he doesn’t mean it, say it isn’t so! 🙂
Whatever sort of success Japan had during their time here in Micronesia was very much enjoyed by the Japanese. They ran the government, the schools, the sugar cane fields, the tuna processing plants. If our people cannot determine the course of our own destinies, it will never be called a success by us. Never.
Our story in Micronesia as FSM, RMI and Palau continues on. Let’s leave the past in the past and push forward to make better stories for ourselves and our partners (former rulers).
See you on the next blog or my Podcast powered by Anchor.