Student researchers wanted to document Japanese-CHamoru family histories

Student researchers wanted to document Japanese-CHamoru family histories

Student researchers wanted to document Japanese-CHamoru family histories


A new research project being led by University of Guam President Emeritus Robert A. Underwood and sponsored by local businessman Hidenobu “George” Takagi of Takagi & Associates Inc. will document the immigration of 20 Japanese men to Guam prior to World War II and the histories and legacies of the Japanese-CHamoru families they started here.

Guam Issei ProjectTitled the Japan Issei Project — issei being a Japanese term for first-generation immigrants — the project will identify 20 student researchers through an application and review process to research and write on a Japanese-CHamoru family of their choosing. Research will be conducted by consulting elders in the family, documentary materials, and the UOG Micronesian Area Research Center.

In the early part of the 20th century, many Japanese men came to Guam to start new lives. Most became Catholic, married CHamoru women, and worked in different kinds of jobs or started businesses. Many of their offspring became political, educational, and business leaders, and their family names remain prominent and recognizable in Guam society today, including Okada, Tanaka, Shinohara, Shimizu, Ishizaki, and Sayama.

“They were widely respected for their work ethic and their ability to become immersed in the cultural life of the CHamoru people while contributing to the growth of the island,” the project description states. “The stories of these men and their families provide the background for some of the most interesting turns of history in Guam. […] most of the stories were about survival and triumph in the most difficult circumstances as families struggled to live through the occupation and its aftermath.”

The research of each family will include details of the original Japanese immigrant to Guam, their place of origin in Japan, and reason for coming to Guam; the names of their spouse, children, and grandchildren; their work and experience in Guam before and during the war; their post-World War II experience; and their family’s legacy and contributions to the society of Guam.

Underwood will lead the project with assistance from UOG Associate Professor of History Michael Clement and Asako Takagi Araw, vice president of Takagi and Associates.

Students encouraged to apply

Students attending the University of Guam, Guam Community College, or any other post-secondary institution are encouraged to apply to research and write a family’s history for this project, in particular students who are descendants of or otherwise connected to Japanese-CHamoru families and those who have demonstrated research skills. Students will receive $750 for their completed work.

The project will take place from June to November. Interested student researchers should email for an application form. The deadline to apply is May 30.

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