~Nikkei” in Palau~ Interview Series: Vol. 9 Ms. Humiko Kingzio

Humiko photo before
Humiko photo now
     Ms. Humiko Kingzio, a self-taught successful business woman, a Palauan of Japanese descent “Nikkei”. Her father is Morisuke Kingzio, a carpenter from Okinawa, and her mother is Mrs. Tmodrang Tuloi from Ngchesar State. Ms. Kingzio now 93 years old, owns a motel known as HK motel in Medalaii, Koror, which she started in 1993. She is blessed with ten children, many grand children and great grand children.  
     She went to school for three years at a Japanese school “Kokumin kogakko” in Koror when she was twelve years old until she was fourteen years old. After that she moved to a Japanese school in Ngchesar called Shimizu Kokumin Gakko for two years. She experienced some challenges during the war but survived and went to further her education in Ngchesar under the US Trust Territory government when she was fifteen years old.
     Ms. Kingzio have always been interested in mathematics which helped her find her passion for business. She learned about business through her experience working at Duty Free Shop in Saipan and Palau and also during her trip to visit her three siblings in Okinawa in 1969. They took her to visit agriculture related businesses such as a piggery, chicken farm, sugar cane plantation and a shop that makes charcoal. She still remembers her tour to Gyokusendo in Okinawa.
     Ms. Kingzio:s first business was called Koko Inn and it was located at the T-dock area from 1960 to 1988. She already had a family to look after while running her business at that time but that didn’t discourage her from pursuing her education at Palau’s only college known as Micronesian Occupational College (MOC) back then. She was one of the first students when she enrolled in 1970 at MOC which is now called Palau Community College (PCC). She excelled in her studies on culinary arts and hotel management and graduated in 1972.
     In 1988 when Ms. Kingzio decided to close Koko Inn, she partnered with a Japanese businessman and set off in a new business venture in the tourism industry. She made hotel and tour arrangements for Japanese tourists and also enjoyed being a tour guide using her Japanese language skills which she learned from her father and also from the Japanese schools that she attended. She also organized tours for her classmates from Japanese “Kokumin kogako” and “Shimizu Kokumin gakko”. In 1993, Ms. Kingzio decided to build the second floor of her house in Medalaii and opened an eleven-room motel which still exists today. Many Japanese professors, researchers and university students from Japan would stay with her or make time to interview her about her experience during the Japanese time before WWII and about Palau’s history and culture.
     With the year 2024 marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Palau, Ms. Kingzio hopes that more Japanese people will come to Palau and do business to help develop Palau’s economy.