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HTS - Background-The Saipan Interpreters

The Saipan Interpreters

with Fr. Eric Forbes, O.F.M. Cap



Friday, July 31, 2020

1:00 pm HST | 4:00 pm PT | 6:00 pm CT  | 7:00 pm ET

Saturday, August 1, 2020 | 9:00 am GUAM TIME


About this talk

During the Japanese Occupation of Guam (December 1941 to July 1944), the Japanese, who could not speak Chamorro, employed 50 or so Chamorro interpreters from Saipan and a few from Rota, who could speak both Chamorro and Japanese, to facilitate communication with the Guam Chamorros, who could not speak Japanese. 


The participation of the Saipan and Rota interpreters during the Japanese Occupation imparted a deep wound within many Guam Chamorros, a wound that was credited for the failure of Marianas reintegration in the 1960s. Saipan wanted to unify with Guam, Guam said no. The war experience was one reason mentioned. Was the popular indictment of Saipan interpreters justified? What can we learn on how it came about? What was the experience of Saipan interpreters themselves? And what does the historical record actually show about the interpreters’ activities on Guam during the war? 


About Father Eric Forbes

Father Eric Forbes is a Catholic priest, born and raised on Guam. After obtaining a BA in History from San Francisco State University and a Master of Divinity degree from the Graduate Theological Union,  Berkeley, California he was ordained a priest in 1990 and has served in various parishes in Guam and Saipan. Since his youth, Chamorro language, history and culture have been his passion and his knowledge of Chamorro and priestly ministry have enabled him to interview countless older Chamorro since the 1980s and to access many archives all over the world, some of them private and closed to academic scholars. He has since written articles and chapters for various publications and has given numerous presentations. In 2010, he began a Chamorro ministry with the Chamorro community of the West Coast.

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