Subscribe!Get all the best of On Walkabout by subscribing.

Places In Saipan: The Old Japanese Jail

Basic Information

Picture from the Old Japanese Jail on Saipan

Narrative

Another historical location I checked out during my visit to Saipan was the old Japanese Jail located in the village of Garapan:

Picture from the Old Japanese Jail on Saipan

The jail is located just a couple of blocks away from the Old Japanese Hospital and Sugar King Park:


The jail was built in 1929 and has two different jail blocks.  The largest one has 16 cells in it which was where male prisoners were kept:

Picture from the Old Japanese Jail on Saipan

It is in these cells that a number of American prisoners of war transited through on their way to prisons in Manchuria or mainland Japan.  After the prison was captured by American forces they found the body of an American pilot outside the jail that the Japanese had executed before Garapan fell.  The smaller jail block had 4 cells in it where female prisoners were likely kept:

Picture from the Old Japanese Jail on Saipan

It has been rumored that Amelia Earhart was held here shortly before her death.  Here is what the cells looked like:

Picture from the Old Japanese Jail on Saipan

Here is a view of the inside which shows how small the cell is and it appears the toilet was the raised concrete platform:

Picture from the Old Japanese Jail on Saipan

Of interest is that a platoon of American Marines during the Battle of Saipan used the jail for cover during the urban fight to take Garapan.  On the walls of the jail graffiti from these Marines can be read:

Picture from the Old Japanese Jail on SaipanPicture from the Old Japanese Jail on Saipan

Amazingly through the power of the Internet the man from the J.A. Beiser graffiti has been identified.  However, the Mr. Beiser does not remember scrawling his name on the wall during the battle.  So how his name got there remains a mystery.  Maybe one of his platoon members scrawled everyone’s names on the wall?  Speaking of walls there is one corner of the prison’s outer wall that is still visible today:

Picture from the Old Japanese Jail on Saipan

Conclusion

The Old Japanese Jail is definitely a creepy place that makes me wonder how many executions were carried out here against US POWs?   It also make me wonder how many of the Japanese tourists visiting Saipan know the dark history of this prison?  Regardless the prison makes for another interesting stop to learn more about the Imperial Japanese period of Saipan’s history.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *