1946 Drawings of Japanese Leaving Taiwan

The Japanese began their exodus from what was once colonial Taiwan soon after their defeat in 1945, but the departures really peaked in the spring of 1946 as all but a few Japanese were expelled from the island that now came under the control of the Chinese republic.

By mid-1948, there were only around 300 Japanese left on the island, according to US diplomat George H. Kerr’s Japanese friend Suzuki Gengo.1 Kerr’s letters from the early postwar period in Taiwan reveal how he and other Americans in Taiwan eagerly snatched up the more valuable possessions (especially Japanese books) being sold by their departing Japanese friends and acquaintances at what must have been bargain prices. They even let each other know whenever a Japanese professor or government official seemed to be on the verge of making his move to pack up and leave for home, a sign that a garage sale was imminent.

There are now a few publications which collect the many photographs made, mainly by US military personnel, of Japanese and Koreans being returned or expelled from Taiwan, Korea, and mainland China. I was also interested, however, to come across a series of drawings(by a 麥非) published in successive issues of the Taiwanese newspaper 臺灣新生報 in March 1946 which depicts the Japanese waiting to be transported back to Japan. The drawings and some of the reports about the returnees were relatively sympathetic. However, it should be noted that they were found on the Japanese pages of the bilingual newspaper which, in addition to targeting literate educated Taiwanese for whom reading Japanese was easier than reading Chinese, was also surely targeted at the remaining Japanese population.

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See more of the pictures below the fold:

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  1. Correspondence by and about Goerge Kerr vol. 1 p85, conversations with Suzuki Gengo  

3 Comments

  1. I’m not sure why you say that: it looks like a waiting traveler.

    It does have a strikingly Zen quality about it, though, doesn’t it? Reminds me of the drawings of monks or Taoist immortals.

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