Postings by Sayaka Chatani

Contact: sayaka [at] froginawell.net
URL: http://prisonnotebooks.com

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)

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

Collecting Local Materials in Okinawa

Filed under: — sayaka @ 9:09 am

It seems there is increasing attention to Okinawan history recently. Okinawa is such an obviously interesting place for its own rich cultures, languages, customs, and complicated historical relationships with Yamato Japan and surrounding countries. The complexity should not overwhelm comparative historians, however, because there are a couple of advantages in studying the Okinawan history even only for a short period of time.

First of all, there is a tight community of Okinawan studies scholars who are very approachable, and many materials are available even from Tokyo. The library of Hosei University’s Institute for Okinawan Studies is a great place to find basic materials, and probably to get to know people.

Second of all, Okinawa’s prefectural and municipal governments have been devoting a lot of resources to organizing local sources. Almost everything they collect and publish are available at the Okinawa Prefectural Library in Naha. If you are doing postwar histories, the Okinawa Prefectural Archives is the place to go to. I spent most of my time in the Prefectural Library. Generally speaking, there are not many documents left from the prewar period because of the magnitude of the Battle of Okinawa as well as the occupation by the US forces afterwards. For many issues and years, the only sources are newspapers (琉球新報, 沖縄タイムス, 大阪朝日付録九州沖縄版, 沖縄新報, 沖縄毎日新聞 etc) preserved mainly in Tokyo or Kyushu and the old people who lived through that period. I realize that the Okinawan officials are indeed desperate to collect everything left when I saw this:

沖縄県文化振興会『植物標本より得られた近代沖縄の新聞』 2007
They collected about 300 pages of newspapers that were used as wrappers of botanical samples between the 1910s and 1930s in Kyoto University.

To those who want to know the backgrounds of the major newspapers ( in Okinawa, Ota Masahide (大田昌秀)’s “Okinawa no minshu ishiki” (『沖縄の民衆意識』1995) is a must read although the focus is the Meiji period.

Many municipal governments, like in Miyagi but often even more eagerly, have a city history section which regularly publishes new studies. I contacted Nago city history section. Their city history is one of the most thorough ones, and like other cities in Okinawa, they indexed and re-published newspaper articles and organized all the available statics related to Nago in three volumes. The republished version of newspaper articles is much easier to read than the original bad printing, of course. Nago city also distributed an index list of “newspaper articles related to education in Nago before 1945,” which came in extremely handy for my research. Besides that, I don’t know if this is really doable for other cities, but they publish contacts of senior citizens of the city — in case you are looking for the elderly to interview, I guess…

The staff at the Nago history section is also very helpful in introducing local historians to me from the local Meio University (名桜大学) and in responding to my additional request for a copy of a couple of newspaper articles that I could not find in the Prefectural Library.

You could also visit the national Ryukyu University, whose library is one of the oldest in Okinawa. I found a few issues of 沖縄教育 that were missing from the reprinted version and random village youth periodicals there. But overall their collection is not as thorough as the Prefectural Library, and it is less conveniently located. If you suddenly need to refer to English publications, Ryukyu University is the place to go to.

Shimoina in Nagano Prefecture is probably the most popular site of research because of its rich local sources, but it seems there is an equivalent of Shimoina in Okinawa — Ogimi (大宜味)village in Kunigami (the Northern one third of Okinawa). To be precise, rather than a lot of materials left, there are more historians who write about this village from early on. Besides their very well-written 大宜味村誌, Fukuchi Hiroaki (福地曠昭) has written a number of works based on many oral interviews and his own experiences of growing up in the village in the 1930s and 40s. Ogimi, in a way, is a peculiar case because the youth created a “soviet” in the village in 1931. 山城善光 was one of the leaders in this movement, and he wrote a memoir “Yambaru no hi” (『山原の火』1976)as well. When I visited Ogimi village last summer, they just created a new village history office. Kin (金武)village is also gaining more and more attention because that village produced a large number of immigrants.

I do not need to convince others about the importance of Okinawan studies. Neither do I need to persuade Okinawan people to engage in local histories. I was totally impressed by their continuous efforts, and I hope they will get attention and admiration that they deserve.

Collecting Local Materials in Miyagi

Filed under: — sayaka @ 11:29 am

To express my deep gratitude to those who helped my research in Miyagi this summer, and to encourage more researchers to explore sources in Tohoku when things return to relatively normal, I would like to share some of my experiences in visiting libraries and archives there. I will also give my experience of doing a similar research stay in Okinawa in the next post. Several weeks of research in the local prefectures do not suddenly make me a specialist of the regions of any sort, but my point is that, thanks to the taxes well spent on organizing local histories in Japan, even short stays like mine could lead you to interesting case studies in local contexts.

I am not writing this post only to support the Tohoku region after the earthquake, but mainly because Tohoku is really worth a look for many issues because it offers rich, and often unique, historical contexts. Sendai, the center of the Tohoku dynamics, is a good place to explore for that reason. The three must-visit facilities in Sendai are, Miyagi Prefectural Archives, Miyagi Prefectural Library, and Tohoku University Library. All of them are temporarily closed because of the damage of the earthquake and aftershocks.

Miyagi Prefectural Archives (MPA) have hundreds of thick files, many of which are hand-written, recording administrative conducts of the prefectural and district governments. [My friend just let me know that the archives will be moved to the Prefectural Library around February 2012, and you can download the lists of their holdings here (go to the very bottom of the page)]. You can officially bring in a digital camera to take photos. There is a professional archivist, Kanehira Kenji, who is very helpful in finding out sources and locating the ones even outside the MPA. From what I saw there, their materials on education from Meiji to Showa are impressively thorough. They have lists and resumes of thousands of teachers, for example. Many local researchers often come to the MPA, so it might be a good place to ask about and meet local historians.

Miyagi Prefectural Library is located outside of Sendai City, and it takes about 30-40 minutes on the bus to get there. They have a big local history section, and you find most of the books, including personal memoirs and journals, in open stacks. They keep rare books inside the closed stacks, however. They will let you take digital photos within the limitation of copy rights in the back room. They have the most thorough collection of Kahoku Shimpo and other local newspapers in microfilms as well. Unfortunately the important years (around 1919-1930) of Kahoku Shimpo are completely missing, but some articles related to agricultural business could be found at Kobe University’s digital archive.

Tohoku University’s library is open to the public, but unfortunately most of the books are in the closed stacks. Visitors can make a library card to check out 2 books at a time. Even though this is a little inconvenient, you must check out their online catalogue because some retired scholars have donated tons of rare books to the library. Besides, local academic journals are available in open stacks. They also received and organized the donation of a massive amount of the documents of the Saito Faimily, who used to be the second largest landholder in Japan. I have not tried but you can take a look at the list of Saito documents online by registering.

Many of the city and town offices in Miyagi also compile and revise their local history series regularly. This is partly because many administrative units are going through mergers lately and they try to record a full account of the old city histories. For example, I was doing research on Shida village in Miyagi, which was merged into Furukawa city, which became a part of Osaki city recently. The Osaki city history section have just finished the new Furukawa city history. Because their volume on “sources of modern history” included very relevant materials, I inquired whether I could take a look at other sources they have. They were both very professional and laid-back — they collect as many personally-archived materials from their citizens as possible and digitize everything, and they are willing to share these sources with researchers. They also shared with me an index of Kahoku Shimpo articles written on the region which took three city officials a couple of full months to complete. When I needed to contact individuals in the city, this city history section also helps me by going in-between.

I hope it is clear that Miyagi (I actually imagine that many other prefectures as well) is very historian-friendly, both because they have many interesting materials and because there is personnel who helps you. If you have any possible excuse to include an event, a person, a company, a perspective from Miyagi, I strongly encourage you to devote a few hours searching these catalogues and asking these professionals.

Last Updated: Nov. 10, 2011.

When desperate to stabilize the currency

Filed under: — sayaka @ 9:06 am

I encountered these pages when I was flipping through a thick, unsorted bunch of materials regarding the industrial campaigns that the youth associations conducted in the immediate postwar period. Apparently this is a song promoted by the headquarters for the currency stabilization (通貨安定対策本部).  You can tell how desperate they were to persuade people to make savings in banks during the flaring inflation. The lyrics go (sorry for the rough translation):

What does that girl wait for at the counter of the bank? What are the bundles of bills that flow out every day doing? With whom are they now? Why are they coming home so late?

Bank Girl is alone, worried.

What does that girl look at during the lunch break? The bundles of cash that flooded into the city raise the price of what she wants. A shadow is cast over the shop window.

Bank Girl is alone and sad.

What does that girl do at the counter? The more cash flows out, the deeper the value goes down. Why do you not deposit that cash? The calculation does not make sense.

Bank Girl is alone, concerned.

Who does she wait for at the counter? The gentleman who always comes to deposit money. He is truly reliable — I wonder if he is single. I would love to see his bank statement.

Bank Girl is alone, longing for him.

Teachers and National Ideologies

Filed under: — sayaka @ 2:05 am

I have been collecting and reading various materials that could potentially reveal how people lived in rural villages between the 1910s and 1940s. Village teachers were particularly eager to write down their thoughts and experiences. Since most of them did not get enough pay to survive, being a teacher (especially in the late 1920s onwards) required a lot of commitment and self-sacrifice on their part. In their writings, good information is often covered by the thick coat of ideological arguments on nationalism, agrarianism (農本主義), which the Home Ministry encouraged to develop as a part of social moral suasion (社会教化), and/or respect for the military that became more and more ostensible during the 1930s. In fact, it is impossible for me to tell whether they truly embraced these ideologies, but their writings are passionate enough to appear that they meant it.

Now I face a difficult question of how to interpret these teachers. How would I depict them if I was making a movie? Were they ideological machines to create an ideal nation? Were they the first ones to be “brain-washed” before brain-washing other populations? As soon as I put the question this way, I am urged to say “no, things must have been more complex than that.” No matter how blindly nationalistic they sounded,  I also see that this was out of their struggle to find a way to give their students control over their own lives. In most of the cases, they found the methods that the central government advocated the most effective way. One youth school teacher in Oita Prefecture, for example, argued in 1939 that becoming a hardworking and advanced farmer was the only way to survive in the increasing susceptibility of agricultural business to external factors:

農業は外界の事情に支配されることが多い。経済界の動き、自然的事情特に天候の如何によっては半年の労苦を一朝にして水泡に帰せしめることが有り勝ちだ。今日の農業は安全確実な職業とは言えなくなった。…かかる時代においては篤農家、老農、精農の手合いが次第に輝きを増してくるように感じられる。世間が押し並べて風害虫害病害にしてやられる中に一人老農は以前と農作を謳うものだ。物価は下落し農村は不況の裏に沈淪し鋏状価格差の声頻々たる中に平然として余裕ある生活をなし禍を転じて福となす者は篤農の士である。86 (下郡平治『専任教員農村青年学校の経営』東京・第一出版協会 1939、86)

I came across his writing right after reading another book which introduces a teacher in the Meiji/Taisho period who was extremely dedicated to teaching the standard pronunciation of the Japanese language to children in Akita. The skill in the standardized Japanese, or the lack thereof, tremendously affected how young people experienced their national lives like the conscription and higher education, and still means a lot to the people from this region today. It is a typical and blatant nationalizing project from historians’ point of view, yet he was also providing control over life to their students in an important way.

Going over these thoughts, I just realize how similar the problem of interpretations is between these teachers and intellectuals in the colonies. Just like in the cases of colonial intellectuals, however, I also wonder if it is irresponsible for me to leave them outside of my own judgment, pointing out that they were in difficult positions. This must be a ‘being a historian 101′ question, but I still cannot find a comfortable solution to it.

Goto Shimpei’s Meta Theory on Modern Empire

Filed under: — sayaka @ 10:32 am

I feel that, from what I have read so far, Goto Shimpei is everyone’s favorite colonial policy-maker. He learned ‘scientific’ colonial governance from Western examples; his management of colonial affairs made the Japanese rule in Taiwan self-sustainable; he made a basis for Japan’s rule of Manchuria. Compared to Hara Kei, another ‘everyone’s favorite’ in the history of Japanese colonialism, who believed in the extension of home rule (内地延長主義), Goto was much closer to contemporary Western colonizers in that he regarded colonies as completely separate entities from the home country. The fact that these two figures who had almost opposite ruling philosophies are praised in the same way shows the difficulty of determining what exactly “good governance” means in colonial rule.

Anyway, I happened to read Goto’s 日本植民政策一班 (Japanese colonial policies), which was written based on his lecture given in 1914. I was curious of how he thought about the role of modern empire. He says;

19世紀において起こりました、国民主義なるものは… 強者には無上の好武器であるが、弱者には却って身を殺すの凶器であったと云ふことは明らかであります…この国民主義の興隆と共にその弱い国は無理往生的に同化を強いられるという形成に相成ったのが、欧羅巴列国生存競争の結果であります。その国民主義に加えるに帝国主義を以てすることになりました。

(rough translation) It is clear that nationalism, which arose in the nineteenth century,… was an excellent weapon for the strong, but for the weak, it was rather a self-destructive weapon… Together with this rise of nationalism, those weak countries were forced to assimilate. This is a result of the competition for survival among European powers. They added imperialism to this nationalism.

Assuming that the common narrative that today’s historians give that the era of nationalism took over the era of imperialism is somewhat right (at least chronologically), Goto’s reverse perception is quite fascinating. Partly this is because he was trying to analyze World War I, which manifested the coexistence of nationalism and imperialism. But I suspect this was a common mindset for the Japanese leaders. They, including Goto, probably felt that “first comes nation, and that becomes empire” from their experience. This was absolutely not the case for most of the European empires. But for Japan, with a strong orientation for “nation” building, “empire” was a powerful version of the “nation.” This might sound a little too banal as a point for Japan specialists, but from a comparative viewpoint, this is quite anomalous.

Thinking about the Japanese woman in Korean-Japanese (内鮮一体) couples

Filed under: — sayaka @ 2:34 am

I posted an entry at Frog in a Well Korea that might interest the reader of the Japan blog.

Thinking about the Japanese woman in Korean-Japanese (内鮮一体) couples

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