Anecdotes on the Pacific Islands

Where are Konishiki and Musashimaru from?

Former ozeki (the second highest rank in sumo wrestling) Konishiki was introduced in the sumo ring as being from Hawaii. His parents are actually from Samoa, however, and he was born after they emigrated to Hawaii. Some of his siblings were born in Samoa. Wrestler Musashimaru, currently yokozuna (the top rank), is also from Hawaii but of Tongan descent. Sumo has gained popularity in Tonga thanks to Musashimaru's performance, and Tongan wrestlers participate every year in the Sumo World Championship that is held in Japan.

Koben Mori and Boken Dankichi

In 1892, more than a century ago, a young man from Japan's Tosa district (present-day Kochi Prefecture) immigrated alone to the Truk Islands (now part of the Federated States of Micronesia), dreaming of success. His name was Koben Mori. He is said to be the model for Boken Dankichi, a comic strip popular in the days before World War II. Children of the time would read the comic strip and dream of setting out on a journey to the South Seas. Koben married the daughter of a tribal chief, and today over 1,000 of their descendants are alive. There are many influential figures among them, including Speaker of the State Legislature Roger Mori.

Jomon People in Vanuatu?

In the 1960s, earthenware closely resembling Jomon pottery was excavated on Efate, Vanuatu, causing a sensation. Close examination revealed that the artifacts contained minerals not native to Vanuatu that matched those found in pottery unearthed in Japan. It is still a mystery why Jomon-style pottery existed over 5,000 years ago in Vanuatu, a land 6,000 kilometers away from Japan. The connection between Jomon people and ancient Pacific people is a subject that greatly stirs our imagination.

Rugby Players from Pacific Island Countries

The superb performance of Manase Folau and Koliniasi Holani, exchange students from Tonga, at the 79th Japan High School Rugby Football Tournament is still fresh in our minds. There are over 200 rugby players in Japan hailing from Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Countries. Although Australia and New Zealand are better known in Japan as rugby superpowers, the national teams of Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji are also of international levels. Jonah Lomu of the New Zealand national team All Blacks, a star scorer of the 1999 World Cup, is of Tongan parentage.

Four Presidents of Japanese Descent

To date, there have been four presidents of Japanese descent in Pacific Island Countries: Amata Kabua, first president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands; Tosiwo Nakayama, first president of the Federated States of Micronesia; Haruo Remeliik, first president of the Republic of Palau's autonomous government; and Kuniwo Nakamura, current president of Palau. From 1919 until the end of World War II, Japan held the mandate of these countries, collectively called the Pacific Islands Territories. Many local residents and Japanese people intermarried as a result, and thus four presidents of Japanese lineage were produced.

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