Researcher Urges CNMI To Preserve Japanese, German Structures

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‘Treatment of historical architecture is important’ says Carson

By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 1, 2014) – In the CNMI there are structures from the German and Japanese administrations of the islands that need to be preserved.

When asked for his opinion, University of Guam Micronesian Area Research Center research associate Dr. Mike T. Carson said, "The treatment of historical architecture is important, and that will be a major concern for the CNMI HPO staff historian, whenever that position can be filled."

Although he declined to comment further on this saying that his expertise is with much older archaeological sites, Dr. Carson said, "Surely something can be done about preserving those sites and developing interpretive programs for public appreciation of the sites."

Following the Spanish administration of the islands in 1899, the Marianas was split into Guam and the Northern Marianas.

Guam was ceded to the United States under the Treaty of Paris that also transferred control of the Philippines to the United States.

Spain sold the Northern Marianas to Germany for $4.5 million.

In October 1914, the islands were occupied by the Japanese pursuant to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and under a mandate from the League of Nations in 1920.

One of the remaining structures on island dating to the German period are steps that used to lead to a tower used by the German Administrator Fritz, and one closer to his residence.

This is located in the Sugar King Park.

According to the Chalan Kanoa historic district map, there are over 50 Japanese structures on Dr. Torres Drive, Joaquin Kiyu Avenue, Alamwar Avenue and Simion Olopai Avenue.

The more famous Japanese structures are the Japanese jail, the building that houses the CNMI Museum of History and Culture, and the Shinto Shrines.

Retired educator Sam MacPhetres earlier called for the preservation of the old Japanese jail.

MacPhetres said if nothing were done to preserve these Japanese structures, there would be nothing left for future generations to appreciate and learn about the historical significance of these structures.

He said these pre-WWII Japanese structures will offer visiting Japanese tourists an idea of what life was during the Japanese administration of the islands.

Preservation of these historic structures has been a major challenge in the Northern Marianas due to funding.

This year marks 100 years since the end of the German period in the CNMI and 100 years of the beginning of the Japanese occupation of the islands.

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