The Typhoon of War
Micronesian Experiences of the Pacific War
Publication Year: 2001
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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PACIFIC ISLAND names exhibit a bewildering variety of spellings. Islanders often prefer a different spelling or form than that recognized as “official” by the national government. This table lists names and spellings that have been applied to individual islands and island groups mentioned in the text. The...
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OUR GREATEST resource has been the interviews granted to us by the participants in our oral history collection project of 1990 –1991, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (those who wished their names known are listed in Appendix A). It is obvious that this book could not have been written without their help. What is less obvious...
Chapter 1 WAR IN THE JAPANESE MANDATED ISLANDS OF MICRONESIA
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MICRONESIA—the “little islands”— consists of some twenty-five hundred islands with a total land area of only 1,000 square miles tossed across a swath of ocean larger than the continental United States. What was less likely than that these tiny islands should be the scene of a great global conflict? How unexpected...
Chapter 2 BEFORE THE WAR: Islander Life in the Japanese Mandate
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PURSUING a long-standing economic and strategic interest in the South Seas, Japan took possession of Germany’s Micronesian colonies in 1914, formalizing control in a League of Nations mandate at the end of World War I. Aided by entrepreneurs already living in the islands, the Japanese Navy administered the area from 1914 to 1922 with an active program of public works,...
Chapter 3 THE FIRST PHASE OF WAR PREPARATIONS: Springboards for Japanese Expansion
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THE ECONOMIC program of the Nan’yō-chō built up harbor, fuel, air, and communications facilities throughout the region by the mid-1930s. Late in the decade, imminent war spurred further construction—this time of offensive airbases and military infrastructure. Japanese attacks on Dutch, French,...
Chapter 4 DEFENSIVE PREPARATIONS: The Japanese Military Takes Charge
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ISLANDERS had some two years to adjust to the first phase of military operations when the turning tide of war spurred a reevaluation of Micronesia’s strategic role. Early in the war, Japan had had little need to fortify the islands, since their primary role was as bases for offensive air activity and support services for distant fronts. But following the June 1942 defeat at Midway, losses in...
Chapter 5 THE SECOND ROAD TO TOKYO
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THE WAVE of the Allied front in Micronesia crested on the reefs of Kiribati (the Gilbert Islands) almost two years after Pearl Harbor and six years after Japan began fighting in China. The first Allied offensive of the Central Pacific campaign came in November 1943, with the recapture of Kiribati paving the way for invasion of the Marshalls in early 1944....
Chapter 6 LIFE ON THE BYPASSED ISLANDS
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BY THE END of 1944 the invasion of the Philippines was underway and the Central Pacific front had moved on toward Iwo Jima and Okinawa, leaving nearly sixty thousand Japanese military on the bypassed islands, along with thousands of Korean, Okinawan, and Japanese workers and civilians, as well as Islanders. Bases in unconquered Micronesia retained a theoretical chain of...
Chapter 7 THE END OF WAR
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UNLIKE their Japanese and German predecessors, the Americans took Micronesia “at the point of a spear.” Not since the first appearance of Europeans had the military might of foreigners been so manifest. Islanders’ experiences of the war’s end were far from uniform.On invaded islands—Enewetak, Kwajalein, Guam, Saipan—the transfer of power was marked by a boundary of...
Chapter 8 INAUGURATING AMERICAN RULE
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THE FIRST objectives of U.S. Navy Civil Affairs units, and Military Government in particular, were “to assist the military operations and to fulfill the obligations of armed forces under international law” (Richard 1957a:6 –7). Until Japanese surrender, MilGov policy focused on maintaining public order in occupied islands, protecting American forces from sabotage, and interning...
Chapter 9 THE LEGACY OF WAR
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THE FUTURE of the islands of Micronesia was irrevocably altered by the transformations that swept through them during the wartime years: first, militarization and initial Japanese war preparations; second, the defensive buildup beginning in 1943; and finally American bombing, blockading, and invasion....
APPENDIX A List of Participants in Oral History Interviews, 1990 –1991
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APPENDIX B Chronology of World War II in Micronesia (West Longitude Dates)
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Publication Year: 2001