井の中の蛙

9/20/2012

Senkaku Islands: New Sources, New Clarity?

NYT reporter Nick Kristof brought in a guest blogger, Han-Yi Shaw of Taiwan, to examine some new mid-Meiji documentation about Japan’s relationship with the contested Senkaku/Daiyou islands. The core of Shaw’s findings is

the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership of the islands back in 1885.

After several abortive attempts to survey the islands, the Japanese government declared them incorporated Japanese territory during the Sino-Japanese war, despite recognizing that it should have been negotiated with China. As territory seized in 1895, it should have been reverted to China in 1945, but for a variety of reasons, including an administrative shift of the islands from Taiwan to Okinawa prefecture, it remained outside of negotiations until a few years later.

It’s a reasonably persuasive presentation, historically, though I don’t think that these details are going to shift Japanese nationalists, even mild or moderate ones, to support politicians who would abandon Japan’s claim to these useless rocks which sit in such valuable territory. And as long as there’s no particular cost to maintaining the claim — Chinese hostility to Japan is not predicated on this issue sufficiently that abandoning the claim would eliminate anti-Japanese sentiment as a nationalist motivational tool of the mainland regime — it seems unlikely that anything will change, except a few American lectures.

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.

8/18/2008

Documentary on Taiwanese Child Laborers in WWII

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 11:14 am

SafariScreenSnapz001.jpgA friend of mine here in Taiwan lent me what is probably the best historical documentary I have seen in a long time: 緣的海平線 SHONENKO 臺灣少年工的故事.

Whenever I come across a beautiful work like this, I am reminded of how horrible the vast majority of historical visual material I have seen in the way of television documentaries and other programs on the history of wartime or colonial East Asia. While the rich texture, narrative style, historical research, and quality of the content in this documentary are of the kind we have come to expect in, say, a US Civil War documentary, I wish I could say the same for much of what I have seen in our own field. I can only hope that this documentary can serve as a model to future content creators.

This documentary focuses on the lives of a group of children who were recruited to work in Japanese wartime industry in Japan and tells the story of their hopes, dreams, and the reality of their wartime and postwar suffering. It is mostly in the Taiwanese and occasionally Japanese languages but there are Japanese and English subtitles available.

I was really impressed with the amazing combination of materials they brought together for this high quality production: wartime films, plentiful pictures, primary documents, and interviews of the now elderly Taiwanese and some of the Japanese who interacted with the children (a teacher responsible for recruiting the children, and someone responsible for them in the factory).

The other thing which impressed me with this work was that the message of the program, unlike so many other documentaries on Japan’s war and colonial rule, wasn’t simply to beat the viewer in the head with how evil the Japanese empire was. The narrative is certainly a tragedy but the experience of the children, the deceptive promises of the initial recruitment (familiar surely to many young workers within Japan as well as in the colonies), their disappointment with what met them in Japan, the barbaric conditions of their work, their suffering at the hands of US bombing, and the fate that met them after the war was over all make for, surprise, surprise, a more complex experience that doesn’t lend itself well to a dedicated sermon against anyone or thing in particular. Instead we get a sensitive look at those who lived in and experienced total war, who worked around the clock in factories, repeated daily the exhortations to ever greater wartime production (e.g. 勝つために一機でも一艦でも多く前線へ送れ), who heard the sounds of falling bombs overhead, and then faced the horrors of a chaotic early postwar period in Japan or back to Taiwan or mainland China (as in the fascinating but tragic case of one of the children interviewed).

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