"If the war had been prolonged for half a year, all Japanese immigrants would have starved to death," Zensho Kinjo says of the situation faced by Japanese settlers in Palau toward the end of World War II in 1945.

Kinjo, 92, moved in spring 1938 from Okinawa to Palau at the age of 15, following his father and older brother, and got a job as an accountant at a phosphate mine on Peleliu Island.

The Western Pacific islands were then controlled by Japan as a mandate territory under the League of Nations, and the number of Japanese residents in Palau peaked at more than 20,000, roughly half of whom were from Okinawa.