Slide show “Paradise lost–Japanese in NC”
Music and editing : rimacona ©Mutsumi Tsuda 2007
History of Japanese Emigrants in New Caledonia
In 1892 (Meiji 25), six hundreds Japanese single men left for French New Caledonia to work at Nickel mine with five-year contract. Almost 5575 people arrived there until 1919.
After the due date, some had gone back to Japan, but others had settled throughout the island with their islander wives and were engaged in various trades, such as crop farming, salt making, fishing, coffee farming, dressmaking, carpentry, hairdressing, etc. They brought the richness of the life toward New Caledonian society.
On 8 December 1941, as soon as Japanese navy attacked Pearl Hrabour in Hawaii, French governer in New Caledonia instructed to arreste all native Japanese as enemy alien right away.
Japanese were transferred to camps in Australia and interned for 4-5 years. In 1946 they were forced to repatriate to Japan without their choice where to go back. (In 1942 Japanese citizens, like consular, company and Japanese bank staff, etc., were released and sent home by ship under a civilian prisoner exchange agreement between Japan and Britain.)
After the exile of the Japanese men, their local wives and children of mixed descent remained in the island and passed very hard time with the discrimination and poverty. There is nobody who had worked a living for them. Unfortunatery almost the families were separated eternally at this moment.
The other hand, Japanese-Japanese couple were exiled with their children, and all of their property were completery confiscated by French gouvernement. The children did not understand the chagrin of their parents but enjoyed innocently the new life in internment camp. When they arrived in Japan at first time in their life, they were stunned the sight of ruin of defeated nation.
Nowadays it is said that almost eight thousands Japanese descendants lives in New Caledonia for 230.000 population, and 6th generation were already born. Their unreasonable and sad experiences which accounted for the war were never enough known until now.