Power transferred to the Japanese in the early 1900s when the Germans
were pre-occupied with World War I in Europe. The Japanese,
unlike the Germans, settled the islands and by the 1920s about two-thirds of the
population consisted of ethnic Japanese. The Japanese used the islands to grow numerous
cash crops, including sugarcane, as well as a location for fishing, which supplied
Japan with food.
Unlike the Germans, the Japanese settled
these islands and forever altered the culture of the people. These changes came
in many forms, including in the realms of food, politics, infrastructure, and technology
as new products were introduced to the people.
As World War II approached, the island of Yap and Truk lagoon became heavily fortified
by the Japanese, but the Allied forces bypassed Yap as it wasn't strategic in
their goals to get to Japan itself. However Truk lagoon was
strategic so was destroyed in 1944, essentially shifting power in the islands to
the United States and the Allies as the
Japanese retreated. The battles and bombings in the region destroyed most of the
roads and industries the Japanese had built. After the war the people were essentially
living in poverty, but now with a destroyed country and surrounding seas.
After the war, in 1946, the United Nations (UN) put the islands in the hands of
the United States to act as a trustee until
the UN could determine the future of the islands. From this point until 1979 the
Caroline Islands (the island chain that makes up the modern
Federated States of Micronesia) remained under US protection as the infrastructure
was re-constructed and other improvements were made, although the process moved
Perhaps the greatest impact the United States
made on these islands came in their focus to encourage a free market economy. This
goal, to make the islands self-sufficient, encouraged entrepreneurship, education,
and trade among the people and by the time the country gained independence they
had many of these skills, but more importantly the mindset to succeed economically.
This changed their culture in numerous ways, especially in the form of shifting
complete trust to a local leader to a belief in competition and economic self-determination.
In 1979 the United States granted the Federated States of Micronesia independence
and since that time the political scene has been fairly peaceful and quiet. The
greatest political splashes have come with the United States. The two nations work
together in a free association, which means the United States is in control of the
Federated States of Micronesia's defense. Beyond this agreement, the United
States, and other foreign countries, have allowed the country to grow in their own
direction, which they have done quite successfully.