THE history of the Japanese immigrants in Davao began in 1903. Since the first batch arrived, its population increased gradually and the scale had grown to around 20,000 in 1939. Davao was one of the biggest Japanese towns in Asia at that time, way bigger than in Manila.

Here's a chronology of events during that time:

1903 Apr

1st batch of 30 workers from Japan traveled to Davao to work under one-year contract at the Awad Abaca Plantation in Sta. Cruz.

1904 Sep

2nd batch of 180 workers arrived in Davao from Benguet where they were engaged in the construction of Kennon road in Benguet.


3rd batch of 100 workers came to Davao from Benguet


Japanese population in Davao reached over 1,000


The Davao Japanese Association was established.


Abaca Stripping Machine, Hagotan, was invented by Japanese

1924 Apr

First 2 Japanese elementary schools were opened in Davao


Japanese population in Davao was over 10,000


The Japanese population reached around 20,000

Most immigrants were engaged in Abaca industry, while other Japanese were into various industries such as coconut and timber. After the Abaca stripping machine, Hagotan, was invented by the Japanese, it dramatically increased production and efficiency, revolutionizing the development in the Abaca industry. (Photos courtesy of IMIN)