U.S. to compensate Guam for the Japanese Occupation

Japanese POWs play baseball in their compound, Guam 1945

Guam the small island with a big history.

The history of the twentieth century is littered with the dead. There were men and women transported to the Nazi death camps, others that suffered and died in Cambodian killing fields, yet more killed in Rwanda for being from the wrong tribe.

But behind all the attention-grabbing headline horrors are smaller, no less terrible war crimes.

On the day the Imperial Japanese Navy launched its attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, December 7th, 1941, another attack was getting underway on the US island territory of Guam in Micronesia

Landing on the beach the Japanese 144th Infantry Regiment, South Seas Detachment took on the small US military garrison taking two days to defeat the Americans.

The Japanese assault outnumbered the US ten to one in manpower and brought the might of twenty ships, including four heavy cruisers and four destroyers, to bear on the single minesweeper and two small patrol boats at the garrison port. The Americans scuttled the minesweeper and one of the patrol boats before surrendering in the Western Pacific.

The occupation of Guam lasted more than two-and-a-half years. 406 US military personnel were captured and the native Chamorros people were pressed into servitude, interned in concentration camps, suffered rape and torture.

The island was recaptured after a battle that lasted through July and August 1944 and a war reparations treaty was signed with Japan in 1951, preventing the government of Guam from suing Japan for war damages.

This did nothing to heal the sense the survivors of the war atrocities felt that they had been abandoned by the US Government.

Now, more than seventy-five years after their liberation, the Chamorros are receiving financial compensation for the crimes committed by the Japanese during the occupation.

The funds are not coming from Japan but from US Section-30 cash, a fund sent to Guam to pay for general obligations and projects.

It is a compromise following many decades of appeals and lobbying by members of Congress and residents of the island and was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Survivors will receive money on a sliding scale, $10,000 for people interned or sent on forced marches, $12,000 for personal injury or who had been forced to work for the occupiers, $15,000 for severe injury, including rape and $25,000 for relatives of those killed.

These amounts are broadly in line with claims paid out to survivors of Japanese occupations on other island territories in the region. The federal agency set a window of one year for all applications for compensation.

Antonina Palomo Cross was just seven years old when the Japanese invaded and was at a church service when the sirens filled the air.

Her family had to give up their home to the invaders and were forced to march to a concentration camp. On a forced march the family had to carry Antonina’s baby sister who had died from malnutrition.

She is now 85  and says of her compensation pay-out that she is happy to get it despite the amount not yet being confirmed.

Approximately three-thousand residents, manåmko or ‘elders’ in the Chamorros language are likely to qualify for the money although some have been hesitant about making a claim.

Chamorro performers

Judith Perez, who at seventy-six was just a babe in arms at the time, regrets that her parents never received such recognition for suffering, “It’s great to have money, but the people who are more deserving of it are the ones who really suffered physically and mentally, but they’re gone,” she said.

In 2004, a federal Guam War Claims Review Commission found the U.S. had a moral obligation to compensate Guam for war damages in part because of its 1951 peace treaty with Japan.

Commission member Benjamin Cruz said the U.S. did not want to further burden Japan with reparations as it sought to recover from the war. But the treaty effectively prevented Guam from suing Japan for damages.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – Bill Mauldon style – 

That can’t be a combat man. He’s lookin’ for a fight.”

“Let’s grab this one, Willie. He’s packed wit’ vitamins.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Coy Beluse – Hattiesburg, MS; US Navy, WWII

William Calvert Sr. – Montclair, NJ; US Army, WWII, Medical Corps

Thomas Donzal – Eugene, OR; RAF/US Army Air Corps,WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret.)

John Fruzyna – Northlake, IL; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Richard Hover – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Purple Heart

Lester Jackson – Muldrow, OK; US Arm, WWII, PTO

Edward Murphy – Claymont, DE; USMC, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 2nd Marine Division, Bronze Star

Roy Ourso – White Castle, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, 4th Marine Division / Korea

Norman C. Rosfeld Jr. – Green Tree, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 radioman

Jeanne Scallon – Harrisburg, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 19, 2020, in Current News, Post WWII, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 133 Comments.

  1. Despite the 1951 treaty, it would be nice if Japan would take some initiative, out of goodwill, to pay reparations to the people of Guam. After all, only recently they were the second biggest economy in the world, now third.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Remarkable stories you bring to life. Also, the subject of ‘compensation’ seems poised to turn global as countries and communities weigh options of seeking compensation for the spread of the Corona virus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard that China is facing Trillions of dollars worth of law suits. Do you have any idea if that’s true?

      Like

      • Only what comes thru in the media. Do hear some countries have initiated proceedings. Not sure how tenable they are, though. I guess the basic issue will be: Is it manmade or is it a natural event? If it can be proven it is manmade in China, then of course it is China vs the rest of the world.

        Like

  3. A good look into the subject of compensation gp, the subject of compensation both by country to country and also country to their own veterans is a complex area, I am still fighting a claim for something over 45 years ago, appeals on top of appeals non stop, sometimes I think they try to prolong the procedure knowing that nature will take its course eventually, cheers.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Informative read. I liked the comics as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The compensation should have happened sooner

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As always, thanks for the education, GP! I am sorry reparations are coming so late to these people.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I didn’t know about this part of WWII history. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Glad to hear they are getting some compensation even if it’s rather late!

    fast forward to March 2020 and one lady said “these old people went to war in shocking conditions so we could live, so surely we can stay indoors for a few weeks so they can live! After all we get to stay in our own home with all the comforts …”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Horsefeathers… 75 years later? Thanks for another mindful and informative post, GP. Be well, be happy. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Why does this take so long?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As I was reading this, I kept thinking, “Guam…Guam…” Finally, I remembered. In 2010 or so, there was a buildup of Marines there, and one of our esteemed legislators suggested the island might tip over with so many added people. There’s one article here. I certainly hope he was kidding, but I really don’t think he was. It’s one thing for me to lack so much knowledge about a place that played such an important role in our war efforts, but apparently the lack of education reaches farther than today’s high schools.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed! I don’t think he was joking either – brother is THAT a sad note, eh? I don’t know why people are in such a to-do about removing statues and erasing history – our educational systems are doing more just by not teaching it – of course that gives us others a bunch of government employees that are dumb as a box of rocks!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • more military the merrier

      N. Korea and China are too close

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I always learn a lot visting here.

    Stay well GP

    REGARDS THOM

    Liked by 2 people

  13. It’s always ironic the way a government will delay, delay, delay the compensation money as long as they dare and then award it to the tiny number of victims who haven’t died of old age.
    British veterans sat and watched an atomic bomb go off in the n1950s , and then began to die of cancer. Forty or fifty years later the government finally gave money to the few who still remained with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. That was an extremely interesting article. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I guess the risk of halting Japan’s recovery was to important, plus one of the main reason’s for Germany’s 1930s militarism was the back breaking reparations decided at Versailles, so best not to cripple, but the islanders were the meat in the sandwich. better late than never, but most of the youngest would be in their late 70s.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Thank you for the great post. My high school history sort of “sterilized” a lot of the invasion details. I really like that you are getting out all of the details, and then explaining the whole issue. Great post, and thanks again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for taking the time to read here today. I’m afraid school systems are getting even worse in their handling of history – looks like it’s up to the older generations to help teach them – they can’t learn from something they haven’t been taught.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I wished Japan can pay for the compensation directly. Japan was horrible in WW2

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Whilst compensation is I am sure welcome to those who suffered, sadly most, if not all, of those who directly suffered will now be gone. A welcome move anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. The restitution is certainly due to Guam victims of the war, but why is it coming out of the US budget, rather than Japan who committed atrocities on the island?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. This is something you won’t probably see in Japanese history textbooks because every country around the world from Germany to the US wants to leave these boys out. It’s unfortunate because Japanese to Americans grow up with no humility that we aren’t any better and there’s a narrative of “we’re there good guy’s, they’re the bad guys.” I think we have it also this way because critical thinking is not is not emphasized in schools… just sad (schools are happier about producing minions and simpletons).

    Liked by 2 people

  21. It’s about time they’re compensated. But I think Japan should contribute to the reparation payment. After all, Japan was instrumental in all the sufferings not just in Guam but all over the Far East. Stay safe, GP.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. I always learn something from your blog. Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Never knew any of this history, probably because we spent a lot of the time there drinking after long hauls on the boat.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I’m happy to see there is still someone alive to appreciate this kind gesture of recognition, GP Cox. We need lots of good and heartwarming stories like this.
    Keep healthy and stay safe.
    Best wishes our friend from North Norfolk,
    The Fab Four of Cley

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Peggy, The advice I gave you earlier didn’t work for me later – but it does now.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. One more appalling consequence of the madness

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Great post GP. You are a never-ending source of amazing information on any topic related to WWII in the Pacific and more. I’ll share my two cents re Guam. In the early 80s I briefly worked for Continental Airlines (until its first bankruptcy) and visited Guam. Continental and its subsidiary Air Micronesia operated air service between several islands in the central Pacific. (I think this was because of US treaty obligations from WWII and the status many of these islands gained as US trust territories or states in “free association,” an interesting technical term, with the US.) The 727-100 flight departed Honolulu and stopped at Johnston Island (only military could get off) Kwajalein, Majuro, Ponape, Truk and Guam. Part of the way I sat next to and had a good talk with a Chamorro man in his US Army uniform. Until then I don’t think I knew people from Guam were US citizens and served in the US armed forces. On Guam, I was even more surprised to find that it had been effectively reoccupied by the Japanese. Japanese tourists, and only Japanese tourists as far as I could tell, were everywhere. Many restaurants I tried had no English menus. They were only in Japanese. Maybe things have changed since. But given the terrible Japanese occupation during WWII, I think it must have been/is very hard on those who knew of the wartime atrocities. It is good to know they are getting some compensation even if it is inadequate to make up for their suffering.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. For an excellent description of the battle to retake Guam and other Pacific battles see The Fleet at Flood Tide by James D. Hornfischer.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I confess to not understanding so much of what goes on. It’s never simple or straight-forward. But my basic principles are morality, humanity, respect, and this seems to fit.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Great post. I had a pretty good friend in basic training at Ft. Knox from Guam. Crazy little guy, and tough! With all my reading about WWII, I have not spent enough time reading about Guam during the war. I guess I will have to rectify that situation.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. The money being paid out now after all these years is just a small token to the remaining survivors and their families. Thank you for bringing this little known event to our attention, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Thank you for the information about the payments, GP. George Tweed was the lone American survivor of the garrison on Guam. He eluded capture for 31 months with the help of the Chamorros. Here is a short propaganda movie made in 1944 about the retaking of Guam. https://archive.org/details/ReturntoGuam

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Wow. I always learn something new on your site, GP. Has it been common for other countries to sue the Axis or Allied powers? Is this example in your post a rarity?

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a rare type article for me. I don’t know of any one nation that sued the Axis or Allied, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. We promised this retribution in the 1951 treaty with Japan.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. I am happy to hear that they are receiving the compensation. But I do feel that modern-day Japan should be liable for the costs. After all, they were helped to build their country into an industrial and technological giant by the west, after 1945.
    Just a thought.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Interesting bit of history
    I love the cartoons.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I remember hearing about this, sadly, from a loudmouth who opposed they payments. I don’t think we can even imagine the suffering these people endured.

    Thanks for another well-researched and presented bit of information, GP.

    Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Thank you for another great piece of information, GP! Never read such a heartwarming information about this case. Stay well! Michael

    Liked by 5 people

  38. Long overdue. As an aside, my like button isn’t working.

    Liked by 5 people

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