Margarette Lumauag’s mother posing besides her grandfather in 1940. (Photo from Margarette Lumauag)

Decades after Japanese soldiers occupied Palawan, generations of their descendants known as “Nikkeijin” have yet to claim their citizenship in order to be proud of their ancestors.

The Japanese word “Nikkeijin” refers to their descendants, or those displaced by war when Japan invaded the Philippines. It also pertains to those who have immigrated abroad but have not claimed their citizenship.

According to Margarette Lumauag, a Japanese descendant or nikkeijin who has lived in Palawan her entire life, the time has come for them to recognize and be proud of their roots, despite the painful memories of the war.

The desire of their nikkeijin organization to finally obtain Japanese citizenship stems from a desire to know their family histories and to have a sense of pride, believing that hatred caused by the war has ended with the passage of generations.

She thinks that it is now the time for the descendants left to claim their citizenship and be recognized by the Japanese family court.

“Oo (nakapagpatawad na). Sa mommy ko lang, naka-move on na, kasi sobrang tagal na ng panahon. Iyong mga tao na na-involve, wala na rin sila. Ang mga naging cause ng death noong mga grandparents namin. Ang naiwan ‘yong mga anak nila, apo nila na friends na rin namin, so wala nang hatred,” she said.

“Napaka-traumatic nang pinagdaanan kaya hindi puwedeng patatagalin pa sa sarili mo– walang hatred na ipinasa sa amin,” she added.

Lumauag descends from the Jikuhara-Fujimoto clan and is a nikkeijin of their family’s third generation. She narrated that her grandfather’s buy-and-sell business brought him to Palawan, where he wed her grandmother in Cuyo.

They chose to establish their family in the town of Roxas prior to the outbreak of World War II in 1942.

To unite and trace more nikkeijin in the province, a Palawan Nikkeijin chapter will be launched on August 27. As the chapter’s president, Lumauag said that even though their formation is long overdue, it will still be a good way for members to first interact with other second- and third-generation descendants.

The Japanese government ambassador to the Philippines, Kazuhiko Koshikawa, will be in Puerto Princes City to join the event.

After other chapters were established in the 1980s, it will be the 13th Nikkeijin chapter in the Philippines. The Philippine Nikkeijin Kai Rengokai, which collaborates with the Philippine Nikkeijin Legal Support Centre to assist descendants in reclaiming their Japanese identities, oversees all chapters.

“Iyong iba ay naging stateless. Ngayon, ang Japanese government, talagang tinutulungan nila ang mga Philippine Nikkeijins, Japanese descendants na ma-trace at mabigyan ng proper documentation. Kahit wala na ang forefathers namin, binibigyan pa rin nila kami ng chance na makuha ‘yong Japanese citizenship na noon pa na-award,” she said.

“To reach out, to trace them, and mahikayat sila na ma-claim nila kung ano ang para sa kanila kasi right nila ‘yon,” she added.

Palawan has been home to more than a hundred nikkeijins, including those who passed away without being acknowledged by the Japanese government.

The Japanese government used the national chapter to locate some nikkeijins between 2010 and 2012. Some descendants can be found as far north as Culion and as far south as Balabac.

The chapter will assist in tracing all of the descendants in the province, which the group anticipates will number around 300.

A nikkeijin with complete documents required by the Japanese government may be recognized for citizenship in less than a year or two. Due to the damages caused by the war and the span of decades passed, it will be a struggle for the chapter to also provide supporting documents of their identities for the Japanese court.

Being recognized by the Japanese government not only confers citizenship, but also facilitate a descendant’s ability to find employment in Japan.

“Kapag na-recognize ka, mabigyan ka ng passport, pagdating mo (sa Japan), sila rin ang tutulong na maghanap ng work at may matitirahan ka rin,” she said.

The collective tales of the nikkeijins in Palawan claim that their ancestors perished both during and after the war.

She mentioned the experiences of earlier generations due to memories of war, saying that Japanese descendants in the province are no longer subjected to discrimination because of their ancestry. To avoid reprisals, only a small number of nikkeijins in Palawan changed their last names.

“Matagal bago natanggap–sa kaso lang ng lola ko, kasi marami siyang natutulungan. Talagang nagko-community service dahil rural health nurse. Marami siyang napupuntahan,” she mentioned.

“Although may iba na syempre na hindi mo agad-agad maalis [ang galit] pero siguro more than 40 years na nawala na. Kasi depende rin sa tao, hindi mo rin mapilit ‘yong iba,” she added.

At a military base in Puerto Princesa in 1944, about 150 American prisoners of war were set on fire and killed by Japanese soldiers at Plaza Cuartel. The plaza overlooks the city bay and is considered a historical site in Puerto Princesa. It is located near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

A marker was erected in the area to remind visitors of the American soldiers who were imprisoned and killed there during the Japanese occupation in what became known as the Palawan Massacre.


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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.