Japanese consul Kinji Shinoda is saddened by the downward trend of Japanese arrivals in the CNMI and pines for the heyday of the Japanese tourism market in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Shinoda feels sorry that the presence of Japanese visitors has been decreasing every year since Japan Airlines withdrew from the CNMI in 2005. However, the dip has not only been in the CNMI but the entire of Micronesia, particularly with the decision of Delta Air Lines to pull out of the region in May.
According to Shinoda, under that circumstance, the mental distance between the CNMI to Japan has degenerated more than ever. He said this development is truly sad for both Japan and the CNMI.
According to the Marianas Visitors authority, arrivals from Japan in June, at just 483 visitors, is 87 percent lower than that of June 2017.
The decline is attributed to the pullout of direct daily flights by Delta Air Lines in early May 2018 and the sharp reduction of daily flights from Saipan to Guam for Japanese passengers arriving on United Airlines.
Shinoda hopes to revive Japan’s connection to its former colony through the recent creation of the non-profit Japan-Northern Marianas Descent Association.
He said the organization would not have come about without the help provided by David “Uncle Dave” M. Sablan Sr., Norman Tenorio, and Vincent Seman.
The Japan consul pointed out that the Northern Marianas’ historical ties with Japan cannot be ignored and he is overjoyed that that has not been lost to CNMI historians like Don A. Farrell and former CNMI Supreme Court chief justice Jose S. Dela Cruz.
Referencing Farrell’s book, Shinoda said Chamorros and Carolinians under the Japanese administration before World War II enjoyed a higher standard of living than during the Spanish and German eras.
In the book From Colonialism to Self-Government: The Northern Marianas Experience that Dela Cruz wrote, Shinoda said the islands were better off during the Japanese period from an economic standpoint. Dela Cruz noted that agricultural and fishing industries were thriving during the Japanese era.
The Japan consul added that Japan and the Northern Marianas cultivated their own long histories and cultures for around 30 years. During the Japanese administration, the islands’ noteworthy economic surge was led by the agricultural sector. Also, the Japanese administration developed the basic social system and infrastructure, public healthcare, education, and public security on the islands.
Despite the continuing negative trend of tourist arrivals from Japan, Shinoda said the Northern Marianas Descent Association’s main goal is to promote Japanese cultural heritage and restore the historical connections between the people of Japan and the CNMI.
To this end, he encourages CNMI people of Japanese descent to learn their roots and reunite with their grandparents or grand-children in order to resume their relationship with them.
He hopes the younger generation of Japanese descent in the CNMI to join the organization and help conduct various activities and event in order revitalize the relationship between Japan and the CNMI.