Banivanua Mar, Tracey: Pacific people and war in Pacific

Banivanua Mar, Tracey

Remember the Pacific’s people when we remember the war in the Pacific‘, The Conversation, 19 August 2015

Summarises the story of war in the Pacific from the point-of-view of the people who lived there and had to stay there rather than who just visited there to fight.

Air and maritime bombardment also left tens of thousands of people displaced, missing and unaccounted for. The New York Times reported on September 2, 1944, that 60,000 were still missing in the southern mountain areas of Bougainville, as were thousands on Guam and the former Japanese mandates. These are rubbery figures, but they hint at the scale of devastation of a war not of Islanders’ making.

The war brought cultural and social changes as well.

The Pacific War played out as a colonial war in the Pacific. It was brutal for non-combatant civilians in its path, and its impact epitomised the dehumanising capacity of both war and colonialism.

But the human interactions between locals and both Japanese and Allied servicemen also blew away the stuffy rules of the old-world colonial past. This laid foundations for a longer process of decolonisation. This is a story that should be remembered when we commemorate the Pacific War.

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