~"Nikkei” in Palau~ Interview Series: Vol.5 Mr. Haruo Willter
Mr. Haruo Willter is a Palauan of Japanese descent. He held a variety of positions over the years, including deputy director of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) office in Koror for a number of years. In 1958, he started working for the TTPI administration in Guam, and after the TTPI relocated to Saipan, he held roles in budget and finance for many years. Mr. Willter participated in both the first and second Palauan constitutional conventions, which were held in 1979 and 2005, respectively.
A prominent figure in Palauan civil service and politics, Mr. Willter left a lasting legacy rooted in his deep connection to both Palauan and Japanese heritage. Mr. Willter is now 86 years old. Born to a mother of mixed Palauan and Japanese descent, Mr. Willter's cultural background was a blend of two rich traditions. His family lineage traced back to his Japanese grandfather, Kyota Saburo, a significant figure who influenced Mr. Haruo’s upbringing.
At the age of nine, Mr. Willter was given a piece of advice by his Japanese grandfather, which subsequently influenced his perspective on life; "learn to use what you have and always give your best, strive for that extra 110%." The wise advice provided to him developed an enduring work ethic and an unwavering commitment to achieving success, qualities that he upheld consistently throughout his professional career.
Among his cherished memories was a trip to Japan, where he had the opportunity to play golf near Mt. Fuji. This experience not only brought him closer to his Japanese roots but also symbolized his love for the sport and his appreciation for the beauty of both Palau and Japan.
Mr. Willter's vision for Palau's future is deeply rooted in preserving the essence of the nation. He strongly believes in preserving Palau's culture, language, and traditional practices as they were the heart and soul of the nation. In addition, he is dedicated to upholding the constitution of Palau, ensuring that the principles and values it embodied would continue to guide the nation towards prosperity and unity.
Mr. Willter's life story serves as a commitment to the importance of embracing one's heritage, working diligently, and striving for the betterment of one's homeland. His commitment to the preservation of Palauan culture and values will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations to cherish and protect their unique identity.