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History of Hahajima Island

The Discovery of the Ogasawara Islands (Bonin Islands), Whaling Culture, and the First Settlers

Whaling activities thrived and were very popular in the Pacific Ocean during the 19th century to the extent that this time is referred to as the Whaling Period. The Ogasawara Islands, Hawaii, and New Zealand were popular areas for the whaling fleets of Western nations. The first people to settle on the islands arrived in 1830, during the late Edo period (the 17th to the mid-19th century). The settlers were Westerners and Pacific Islanders. In 1876, the islands were added to Japanese territory due to surveying and pioneering activities conducted by the Edo shogunate and the Meiji government. The Ogasawara Islands were uninhabited at that time and called buninnoshima, which means uninhabited islands in Japanese. In the English-speaking world, the Ogasawara Islands were called the Bonin Islands. The origin of this name is thought to come from the Japanese word for uninhabited, bunin.
(C)Ogasawara Village Office

Chichijima Island in 1861

Wartime Evacuation and the Postwar Return of the Islands to Japan

From 1920, until the time leading up to the Second World War, gun batteries were built on the mountainous islands of Chichijima Island and Hahajima Island where many Army and Navy personnel were subsequently deployed. In 1944, the Japanese military determined that the island residents would be a burden during the battle with the US military and so forced the evacuation of all civilian residents to the Japanese mainland. The following year, the Japanese military was defeated after the United States Armed Forces landed on Iwo Island, and the Ogasawara Islands came under the control of the United States Armed Forces. In 1968, 23 years after the end of the war, the Ogasawara Islands were finally returned to Japan. Although the islands celebrate the 50th anniversary of their return to Japan in 2018, it can seem as though little has happened in the history of the Ogasawara Islands in the 73 years since the war. Much of the agricultural land that the islanders had cultivated in the past, for example, has been reclaimed by the forests.
(C)Ogasawara Village Office

The ceremony to mark the return of the Ogasawara Islands to Japan


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