井の中の蛙

6/23/2011

From Hirohito to Chiang Kai-shek

Filed under: — sayaka @ 10:15 am

Earlier this month, I met a descendent of the Taiwanese aboriginal group, Sysiyat tribe (賽夏族), and his wife. The Sysiyat is a relatively small tribe living in Wufengxiang (五峰鄉) and Nanzhuang (南庄) in the mountainous inner-land of Hsinchu (Xinzhu, 新竹) Province. I called him because I am studying the local history of Beipu (北埔) right now, and stories about the Sysiyat people in neighboring Wufengxiang seemed important to me.

His name is Zhao Zhenggui (趙正貴). His grandfather, Taro Yomaw, was the chief-general of the tribe in the area during the first half of the Japanese colonial rule, and he cooperated with the Japanese in many policing operations to suppress other rebellious aboriginal populations. Taro Yomaw’s third son and Mr. Zhao Zhenggui’s father, Ybai-taro, attended the Japanese elementary school in the Zhudong (竹東)city, went to the elite Teacher’s College (師範大学), and  became a police officer and teacher for the aboriginal villages. Ybai-taro continued his career as a teacher after the KMT took over the island, and after he retired in the 1970s, he started writing memoirs, histories, and fictional stories in Japanese. (Mr. Zhao’s interview about these writings in Chinese)

Taro Yomaw in his youth:

Taro Yomaw and Ybai-taro

(both photos provided by Mr. Zhao Zhenggui)

From what I can tell, his memoirs and histories are based on what he heard from his own father and older generations, Japanese publications he later read by himself, and his own experiences as a police officer. Sometimes they are mixed together, but one eye-catching feature is that his writings show a perfectly smooth transfer of legitimacy from Japanese colonizers, especially Emperor Hirohito, to the KMT and Chiang Kai-shek.

Instead of giving my lousy interpretations, I will just show some quotes from his “高砂族の古今” (Old and New of Takasago Zoku)

日本時代になってサイセット族が一番先に新竹の高い砂浜に渡台した歴史にちなみ全島の蕃人を高砂族と昭和天皇が命名あそばされた。
(Showa Emperor named all the aborigines in Taiwan “Takasago zoku” after the Sysiyat who had arrived in the high beach in Hsinchu)

This is historically not accurate because the Japanese were already calling them 高砂族 in the 16th century.

私が小学校に共学した時に日本人の子供は山の人と言って蕃人と言はれた事がない。平地人の子供は蕃人と言はれたので自然に日本人の子供に親しみを持ったのであった。
(When I went to the Japanese elementary school, Japanese children called me “mountain people” but never called me “banjin (barbarians)”. [Chinese] settler children called us “banjin” so I naturally felt closer to Japanese children.)

In the statistics of elementary school attendance, there were no Chinese-Taiwanese children who attended 小学校 before the 1920s, but there were always a couple of aboriginal kids studying with the Japanese children in the cities of Hsinchu.

戦死した弟もおそらく靖国神社に祭られてゐると思ひ何時か日本東京に行ってみたまを拝んで行かうと思ってゐる。台湾の山猿として野蛮人としてゐたのがたった十年間の旧友方々の指導により南方て勇しく戦ひ世界の人たちをびっくりさせた。休戦後は日本人と別れたが少しも恨まず日本人を無事にかへらせて惜別の涙を流したのであった。此の首刈り好きな高砂族を真人間に教育された日本人に対し感謝してゐる。中国人になっても其の昔の教育の基礎があって皆新政府の命を受け此の三十年間に於て目ざましい進歩をして安定な生活してゐるのである。祖国にかへり孫文先生の三民主義精神に基つぎ蒋総統の遺訓を守りますます本当の人間になったのである。それは日本中国のおかげと感謝してゐる。
(Because my younger brother who died in the battle is also enshrined in the Yasukuni Shrine, I am thinking of visiting Tokyo some day and praying for his soul. [The aboriginal people] were regarded as Taiwan’s mountain monkeys and barbarians, but after only 10 years of guidance by our old friends, we surprised people around the world by fighting bravely in the South [Southeast Asia]. After the war, we were separated from Japanese people, but we did not hold grudge against them but sent them home safe with tears. I thank the Japanese, who educated the aborigine who used to like head-chopping and transformed us into true human beings. After becoming Chinese, we built upon the basis of old-day education and received orders of the new government. We have been making amazing progress the past 30 years, and enjoying a stable life. We returned to the mother nation, and based on Sun Yat-Sen’s Three Principles of the People and President Chiang’s will, we became even truer human-beings. I think it is thanks to Japan and China.)

This I found very interesting because of his heartfelt acceptance of both regimes. Praising the Japanese occupation wasn’t a popular thing to do in the 1970s under the KMT rule, but the issue was not either-or for him. If you are too upset or too happy reading his praise of the Japanese rule, don’t forget to read the next one.

終戦当時世界の聯合国のイギリス、アメリカ、ソレンの首相が「日本を三分にして天皇を廃止する」と蘇聯ががんばったが蒋公は日本国は昔のまヽにして占領国は返へさせても好い天皇は廃止してはならぬ」と三名の首領を押へた。日本国民は之を聞いて皆泣いて蒋公に感謝したと言ふ。日本国の再造の神として日本史上に残されると言ふのである。終戦後世界偉人を二十名増加して三十名となった。其の中に中華民国の蒋公が開びゃく以来始めての偉人になられた。蒋公は生き乍らの世界偉人でゐたので世界の人々はわざ<台湾におがみに来たのであった。
(Upon the end of WWII, the leaders of Britain, the US, and the USSR in particular, insisted that they would divide Japan into three and abolish the emperor system. But President Chiang suppressed their assertion by saying “Japan should remain the same but the occupied territories can be returned. We must not abolish the emperor.” I hear the Japanese people cried and thanked President Chiang. He will be remembered as the God of Re-Creation of the nation in the Japanese history. After the war, the number of the world’s greatest people increased by 20 and became 30. President Chiang became the “world’s greatest person” for the first time in the history of ROC. Many people in the world came to see him in Taiwan because he was a living great man.)

I don’t have to discuss the accuracy issue of this passage. I was stunned by his affirmation of the authority of Chiang Kai-shek by claiming that Japanese people worship him.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in his writings but it obviously requires a careful reading. I don’t know exactly how I am going to use this as a source but I hope at least someone enjoys this entry.

6/7/2011

The Kempeitai studies Anthropology

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 3:15 pm

Our friends at Savage Minds often post on issues related to anthropologists at war. Today I came across an example of an anthropologist at war in a 1942 diary by Takeuchi Tatsuji. Together with pan-asianist ideologue and postwar socialist politician Rōyama Masamichi, Takeuchi traveled to Japanese occupied Philippines and conducted a study of the archipelago for the Japanese military administration.1

In his Manila diary, there is the following passage in the entry for January 19, 1943 when he visited Allied detainees in Fort Santiago:

Professor H. Otley Beyer, a famous American anthropologist at the University of the Philippines, was released three hours after capture and was given a research room to continue his work. He has been giving a regular series of lectures on Philippine peoples to members of the Kempeitai [Japanese military police]. In addition to Professor Beyer, about fifteen American internees at the University of Santo Tomas are giving lessons in English conversation to Kempeitai members. They seem to be happy to get out of the camp as a diversion.”2

Though I’m not familiar with him, Otley Beyer (1883-1966) looks like he published a great deal on the philippines. There are 28 entries by him in the Harvard library system here, all on the Philippines. However, I don’t see any that look like a memoir or diary from his time during the war.

Exploring his wartime interactions with the Japanese and lecturing the Japanese military police, or the Kempeitai, which was the core institution of brutal repression during the occupation, might be an interesting paper for someone who has access to his papers in Australia.

One place to start would be:

Otley Beyer collection – at the Australian national library. See more here. A finding aid to the collection can be found here, including several boxes from his World War II papers.

  1. Part of the report and some of the diary entries can be found translated in Masamichi Rōyama and Takeuchi Tatsuji, The Philippine Polity: A Japanese View (New Haven: Yale University, Southeast Asia Studies; [distributor: the Cellar Book Shop, Detroit, 1967). At the time of publication in the 1960s, Takeuchi was a professor at Kansai Gakuin University, where had taught since 1932. He got his PhD in political science at Chicago. In addition to his trip to the Philippines, he was an advisor to the Burmese occupation government. ibid., 209. []
  2. ibid., 225-6. []

6/2/2011

Ninjas at Night, Dragons at Dawn: Magic Tree House does Japanese History

Lego Ninja 2011 B1Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series is intended to educate and entertain by taking its protagonists to different times and places, real and mythical. These Scholastic books are mainstays of schools, libraries, and primary curricula, and some of the books have companion “Research Guide” publications for kids who want to know more about the historical, cultural or scientific background. Some of these books are aimed at early readers: the first 28 in the series are short, with short, simple sentences appropriate to 1st or 2nd graders; after that the series shifts into the slightly more fantastical “Merlin Mission” mode, longer stories with more complex writing suitable for 2nd or 3rd grade students; the research guides seem to be aimed at 2nd through 4th graders.1 In these stories, Jack and Annie are given a book which, combined with the magic of the tree house, takes them to a time and place where they can carry out a mission of some kind, while learning about the site of their adventure. The whole thing is supposed to be an encouragement to learning, so to speak, showing the value of book reading. Twice in the series, Jack and Annie have visited Japanese history: in the earlier, shorter work, we get nature-loving ninja and threatening samurai; in the later adventure, we get the nature-loving poet Basho, a magical dragon, and threatening samurai.2

(more…)

  1. Check the Scholastic web site for official suitability levels. Also if you have any doubt about the fact that these are aimed at an education audience…. []
  2. I could put a spoiler alert here, but how many 2nd-4th graders are reading this blog, who haven’t already moved beyond Jack and Annie adventures? Well, my son wants to read this post when I’m finished with it, but other than him? []

6/1/2011

Nisei and the POWs

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 3:00 pm

I just want to take a moment to share a photo that I think captures an interesting and perhaps a bit of an awkward moment. The photo is taken from a 1946 report on the “mop-up” of Japanese troops in the summer of 1945 in the Philippines.1 In it we see a, possibly staged, moment of interaction between a US Nisei (Japanese-American) soldier and Japanese POWs sometime after August 15, 1945, who are about to go out and attempt to persuade their fellow Japanese soldiers in the area to surrender.

Nisei and POWs in Luzon

I was hit by a range of emotions and thoughts when I saw this. On the one hand is the interaction of this Japanese-American, whose loyalty has always been seen as suspect by his fellow Americans, with the Japanese, who most probably see the Nisei as a traitor to his own people.

Completely separate from this interaction is the predicament of the POWs who are about to leave the camp, which was likely no pleasant hotel, but which represented a site of sufficient food and safety reached only after an extremely risky surrender. At that moment of surrender they faced the possibility of being shot either by Americans, or even more likely, their own officers or fellow soldiers. Only a few pages before this photo we read that while, “the good faith displayed by the Americans in holding their fire” (which was not by any means universal on the part of US troops) had lead to many desertions, “many Japanese soldiers were shot by their own troops as they tried to make their way to the American lines.”

Here we see these POWs about to return to the jungle where fellow soldiers were starving and dying of disease. Instead of mounting active attacks on US forces by this time, these Japanese remnants were reportedly only launching desperate nighttime raids for food on local communities. These scenes are, of course, common to almost every description of Japanese forces throughout the Pacific in the summer of 1945. As the report records, “Patrols found individuals and small groups who had apparently starved to death…prisoners of war told of acts of cannibalism,” and of active fighting between the Army and Navy over remaining food supplies.” If these POWs failed to persuade their dying comrades to surrender, would they be able to make their way out safely again? Would they be forced to remain with the others?

One thing that we might keep in mind is that the jungles and hills of Luzon of that summer were full of “Japanese” who were not from the archipelago, as the final report on casualties and POWs from July 1 to August 20 operation reveals:

Dead 20,311
Japanese Prisoners 1,254
Formosans (Taiwanese) 1,065
Koreans 77

  1. Report of the Commanding General Eigth Army on the Luzon Mop-up Operation 27 February 1946. Surplus Copy found in Widener Library, Harvard University. []

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