우물 안 개구리

9/19/2010

The Use of Collective Responsibility

Filed under: — Sayaka Chatani @ 6:13 am Print

It is a famous fact that the Government-General in Taiwan adopted the baojia (保甲) system in 1898 in reaction to a series of attacks against the Japanese. It is a method of mutual policing at the village level for the purpose of maintaining local order and preventing tax evasion. Although GGT officials explained that it was a system that they were adopting from the old Chinese dynasties, it had already been a familiar style of policing for the Japanese too since Toyotomi Hideyoshi and others adopted it to police hidden Christians and so on.

I never encountered a mentioning of a similar system in the history of colonial police in Korea. For example, Matsuda Toshihiko’s recent publication, 日本の朝鮮植民地支配と警察 1905-1945 (Japan’s Colonial Rule of Korea and the Police. 2009), discusses how the police tried to propagate its authority to the masses (民衆化) and how they tried to co-opt local leaders into their networks (警察化). But it does not look like there was a rule or a law about mutual policing like the baojia (保甲) system.

It turned out that the collective responsibility system was used in tenant contracts between Japanese agricultural companies (landlords) and Korean peasants, instead. One example was the Chosen kōgyō gaisha, run by the Shibusawa zaibatsu family. A scholar Asada Kyōji describes how the Chosen kōgyō gaisha established the gonin gumi (5-person groups) system and used it as a basic unit of Korean tenant farmers. (Asada Kyōji. 日本帝国主義と旧植民地地主制. 1992. 161). Apparently this was a common custom among the Japanese landholders as the half-governmental Oriental Developmental Company also required five tenant farmers to register together. In Ham Hanhee’s oral interview with a farmer in Cholla Namdo, he said that the most difficult part in getting a contract with the ODC is that “he needed four sponsors who were willing to take on a collective liability for his wrongdoings.” (Hahm Hanhee, Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University 1990. 82)

I wonder if the difference in where this collective liability system belonged somehow reflects the difference in the nature of rule in Taiwan and Korea… just a thought. Another thought is that, if it is possible that the infamous tonarigumi system in Japan during WWII was a product of the experiences of organizing local units in the Japanese colonies… maybe?

2 Responses to “The Use of Collective Responsibility”

  1. I’m fairly sure that you’re right about the last question, though it could be hard to find smoking gun documentation, and you’d want to look at what Germany, Italy, et al. were doing about local control around that time for comparison.

    It is interesting how different the Korean and Taiwanese (and Manchurian) cases were and how much reinvention the Japanese did each time they acquired new colonies.

  2. K. M. Lawson says:

    Thanks for posting this! I am also grateful to you for quoting the Matsuda source. I haven’t heard of that new work and will definitely take a look at it!

    Also this is an important observation and issue. I agree with your assessment. As for the connection between tonarigumi and the baojia system. I haven’t read anything on the development of the tonarigumi in wartime, but it would be fascinating if it was determined that some of the officers who had key responsibilities were those with colonial experience.

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