~"Nikkei” in Palau~ Interview Series: Vol.1 Mr. John Takaya Sugiyama (Ngirturong) & Mrs. Hiroko Sugiyama (Dirturong)


   Mr. John Takaya Sugiyama is a second generation Japanese whose father Mr. Hayato Sugiyama is originally from Gotenba, Shizuoka Prefecture and his Palauan mother is from the states of Ngeremlengui and Koror. His wife Dirturong Mrs. Hiroko “Suzuki” Sugiyama is also a second generation Japanese. Her father Mr. Suzuki is from Chiba Prefecture and her mother is a Palauan.
   After the WWII, Sugiyama family was repatriated to Japan but their father Mr. Hayato Sugiyama thought that the family would be better off in Palau so the whole family came back to Palau. Mr. John Takaya Sugiyama learned Japanese during his early childhood until he got older and moved to Guam to further his education.    
   He attended high school at George Washington High School and then continued on to the University of Guam and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. Mr. Sugiyama is a former Senator for the second Palau congress. His late brother Pete Naoya Sugiyama was also a former Senator for several terms and at one time held the position of Senate President and also ran for the President of Palau. Mr. John Takaya Sugiyama through his Palauan mother’s line is currently High Chief Ngirturong of Ngeremlengui State and his wife Mrs. Hiroko Sugiyama is Dirturong.
   As for memories during the Japanese time in Palau, the couple recalls how the streets in Koror were designed so that when it rains you can go from one place to the next without getting wet. Mr. Sugiyama also recalls that his father Mr. Hayato Sugiyama had a business that was located in current Mokko area in Koror, and it was doing very well at the time.
   Mr. & Mrs. Sugiyama have visited Japan many times and both love Japanese food but Mr. Sugiyama does not like fermented beans natto. Whenever he goes to Japan, Mr. Sugiyama visits his family's cemetery with his relatives who live in Japan. He also enjoys the view of Mt. Fuji and going to see car races in his father’s hometown in Shizuoka.
   Mr. & Mrs. Sugiyama have been married for 58 years and have seven children and many grandchildren in Palau and abroad.
   Mr. Sugiyama excitedly shared how his family made a huge banner and stood by the roadside to welcome His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus and Her Majesty the Empress Emerita when they visited Palau in April of 2018. Mrs. Sugiyama remembers Their Majesties with their windows rolled down and waiving to them as they passed by.
   Mr. Sugiyama wants to see more friendly exchanges not only between governments but people to people exchanges.