Morikawa-san: a savior or a myth?

Words from Orakidorm —-  

Growing up in the village, I often heard stories about Mr. Morikawa, a Japanese soldier who was spying for the United States during the WWII. According to these stories, if it wasn’t for Morikawa-san, the war in Palau would not have ended and all the Palauans would have died in some electronically wired cave somewhere in Ngatpang. Perhaps, the tragedy of war, the horror stories of the process of “in-doctorinating” Palauans to Emperorolism, the “brainwashing” toward Japanalism led to the story of Morikawa, as Palauans were looking for a “savior” out of the tragedies of WWII.

A piece written by Wakago Higuchi titled, “War in Palau: Morikawa and the Palauans” dispels some of the mystic elements of Morikawa-san’s story. In the article, Higuchi quotes a gentleman from Ngaremlengui as he recalled Morikawa-san’s story. “He arrived in Palau without informing anybody which port he would use. He encouraged Palauans to increase their production to alleviate the food shortage and improve their morale…The Japanese were quite sure that this genocidal plan was the panacea that would end their suffering. Upon learning about the plan, Morikawa attempted to find a solution whereby Palauans could escape mass death and, at the same, solve the Japanese food shortage problem. He suggested to the Japanese military officials in Palau that they postpone their extermination plans and the natives would grow more food plants.”

There was even a Palauan chant composed by Buikspis titled, “Meringel a Mekemedil Rubak (Merciless War of the Rubak). “So reckless was the way Isoroku handled the war that he irritated Roosevelt who sent out kidobutai. He sent kidobutai to fill the whole Pacific. It filled the whole Pacific and turned its weapon on us. Wow—there are okabes, flying kusentei shooting at our lands. Wow—kusentei shooting. Hiding in the woods we were unaware that they were preparing a bokugo at Ngatpang in an attempt to exterminate us all. Were it not for our rescue by Morikawa, Roosevelt’s spy, we should have al perished at Ngatpang.”

According to Ms. Higuchi who had interviewed Yoshiyasu Morikawa (who has since died), Morikawa was a Japanese Army Officer. He came to Palau from Manchuria in May 1944. He was in Palau for about a year and a half. He spoke no English and worked as an officer assigned to appease Palauans whom the Japanese were most afraid of should they revolt like the Koreans and the Taiwanese who lived in Palau at the time. He served under Lt. Gen. Inoue who was  a Japanese commander at the Headquarters in Ngatpang. He led the Morikawa Butai composed of civilians, administrative and military persons and Japanese shidokan who were stationed in some of the hinanba in Palau. He left to Japan after the war after he had contracted amebic dysentery. He lived in Japan until his death.

If Morikawa were a spy, would he have admitted it? And going from Manchuria to Palau, that is not just for an ordinary officer? Oh, by the way, he wore “white clothes” so that the American planes would not shoot at him. He also went to Todayama at Ollei to give signals to the US ships anchored in Ngkesol reef (according to him, he was just gathering intelligence). Okay, I read Ms. Higuchi’s article and Morikawa’s denial of saving my life…. but, I respectfully disagree. Arigato Kodaimasu, Morikawasan.


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