|Alliance||Axis - Minor Member Nation or Possession|
|Population in 1939||129,104|
|Civilian Deaths in WW2||22,000|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThis article deals with places in the Mariana Islands under Japanese control at the start of the Pacific War. For information on the island of Guam, an American possession, please see Guam.
ww2dbaseIn 1899, most of the Spanish Mariana Islands (less Guam, which was transferred to the United States) was sold to Germany. In 1919, after the defeat of Germany in WW1, Japan was given mandate over the German holdings in the Mariana Islands as part of the South Pacific Mandate. During the Japanese period, the main island of Saipan was developed into a major sugar producing center. The Japanese worked extensively with the local Chamorro population in the development of the islands, and would later employ many in the occupation administration of Guam during the Pacific War, which would have lasting consequences in the relationship of Chamorros of different islands for decades to come. In 1939, the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean civilian population in the Japanese-occupied Mariana Islands reached 77,257, outnumbering the Chamorros (51,847).
ww2dbaseIn Jun 1944, the Americans invaded the Japanese Mariana Islands. 29,000 Japanese troops were killed in the defense of the main island Saipan. The island of Tinian, situated south of Saipan, was taken in Jul 1944, which saw the expansion of a bomber airfield from which the B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay took off with the atomic bomb for Hiroshima, Japan. The island of Rota was cut off by the Americans, and the Japanese garrison there surrendered only after the end of the Pacific War. As the Americans captured populated places on Saipan and Tinian, large groups of Chamorros were imprisoned in concentration camps as the Americans feared sabotage and uprising.
ww2dbaseDuring the American conquest of the Japanese Mariana Islands, 22,000 civilians were killed on Saipan. A large portion of that number were the result of mass suicides due to the population fearing that the conquering Americans would be barbarous.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, the United States received control of the Northern Mariana Islands from the United Nations. In the 1970s, a vote by the Chamorros of the region revealed that they did not wish to be granted independence. In 1977, a constitution was adopted, and in the following year the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands assumed control of the islands. The Northern Mariana Islands remains under Untied States protection today, and have representation in the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.
Last Major Update: Apr 2012
|Events Taken Place in Mariana Islands|
|Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot||13 Jun 1944 - 10 Aug 1944|
Mariana Islands in World War II Interactive Map
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George Patton, 31 May 1944