TOKYO (AP) — Hiroo Onoda, the last Japanese imperial soldier to emerge from hiding in a jungle in the Philippines and surrender, 29 years after the end of World War II, has died. He was 91.
(A 引揚 certificate dated May 19, 1946, issued to Mr 鶴山Zuruyama, a farmer originally from 熊本県Kumamoto-ken, who had settled in Taichu-shu - now Taichung Hsien, Taiwan)
Originally, 引き揚げ (hi-ki a-ge, recovery) refers to the repatriation of Japanese civilians and non-combatant Japanese soldiers (with the ranks of 軍属 and 軍夫) after WW2 from occupied territories including China, Korea, Russia (also 樺太島, the Sakhalin Island, or 庫頁島 in Chinese), Southeast Asia, and of course, Taiwan. For the combatants (軍人), it was 復員 (fuku-in, to re-group); and for the IJN, 解員 (kai-in, to disband). More recently, however, 引揚 is taken to mean the repatriation of all Japanese.
By 1946, around 90% were already shipped back to Japan (left: children on board a hi-ki a-ge ship). Those marooned in North Korea, and those who were sent by the Soviets from Manshu (滿洲, Manchuria, 東北Northeast China) to labor camps in Siberia as POWs all had a much longer delay going home and endured much harsher conditions than the rest. And then there were the forgotten ones. An example: some of the thousands of abandoned children raised by Chinese (and a few Russian) foster parents, known as 中国残留日本人孤児, were repatriated, starting in 1965 when they were discovered by reporters visiting from Japan. And sighting of Japanese military hold-outs in SE Asia is still being reported today; although 中村輝夫Nakamura Teruo (李光輝, a Taiwanese drafted in 1943) and 小野田寛郎Onoda Hiro (drafted to serve in 1941), both of whom finally surrendered and returned to Japan in 1974 from Indonesia and the Philippines, respectively, maybe the last ones.
Organized Japanese emigration actually started during the Meiji Era when the increase in population could no longer be supported by the agriculture. Some emigrated overseas to Hawaii and the Americas. The dominating military decided, however, that the most expedient way to resolving this issue was to grab lands off the neighboring Korea and China and send the Japanese there. And as they say: the rest is history.
The first Japanese immigrants of 133 families (385 members) arrived in Taiwan in 1899, organized by a private 賀田Kata company. They settled in Hua-lien area in a brand new village named 賀田村 (the village is still there today under the same name). This first attempt did not fare too well, though. The immigrants were allowed contractually to grow only sugarcane, not staple food. Plus eastern Taiwan was not exactly a hospitable place. There were the hostile Aborigines and malaria to contend with. Some died from diseases and many moved out or went back to Japan.
The pace quickened somewhat in 1909-18 after the Governor General of Taiwan had instituted a new policy that offered free land use plus 3 years of free medicine. Home construction, health care, and purchase of agricultural equipment were all subsidized. More than 1,700 immigrated and settled in Hua-lien and Tai-tung areas. Between 1917-24, private enterprises then took over and recruited more immigrants from 四國Shi-koku and 九州Kyu-shu. They were again all sugarcane farmers.
By 1932, the settlement sites had shifted to western Taiwan in the dry river beds in the southern plains of Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. In addition to sugarcane, the farmers were now permitted to grow rice and other crops to become self-sufficient. The tillable lands were divided into large squares and each village was completed with irrigation canals, levees, roads, and drinking water supply. About 4 hectares of land was allotted to each family; however, no land ownership was ever granted.
The immigrants were in fact all tenant farmers working for the Japanese-owned 製糖會社sugar factories. Their villages numbered:
Hua-lien and Taitung: 15
And the total population of these farmers was around 50,000.
This farmer immigration into Taiwan was hardly a success; although the Japanese Government has thus far remained reticent on this issue. The farmers were only a small portion of the approximately 1/2 million (to be exact: 479,544) Japanese repatriated form Taiwan in 1946. Most Japanese immigrants at that time were not farmers. Instead, they occupied a higher niche, not only as the ruling class, but in a modernizing society, they were also administrators, businessmen, teachers, physicians, engineers, artists, musicians, students, military, and (the much feared) policemen. Most migrated to Taiwan on free will and stayed in metropolitan areas and small population centers (e.g., Danshui). And undeniably, gratuitous superiority complex sometimes did raise its ugly head.
In March, 1946, the repatriation process started (right: repatriates on a 引揚 ship). The Japanese were ordered to fill out various forms, hand over their properties item by item, and be certified (see certificate above). And each person was allowed to carry 1,000 Japanese yen in cash, one set each of summer and winter clothing, and one set of futon before boarding the hi-ki a-ge ships. Some had entrusted valuables to their Taiwanese friends and come back to retrieve them years later. With the meager possession, they returned to a bombed out Japan facing a bleak future. Some refused governmental assistance out of shame/pride and died in the winter cold. Most, however, had stuck it out and re-started their lives. Among the better known are, for example, industrialist 林虎彦Hayashi Torahiko (born 1926, Kaohsiung) and Senator 浜四津敏子Hamayotsu Toshiko (born 1945, Taipei).
Around 30,000 were allowed or asked to stay until 1948/9, most of them technicians and engineers needed for the infrastructure. And a few were scholars and university professors. An estimated 10,000 went underground, through marriages to Taiwanese husbands (some at the last minute) - never to re-surface as Japanese again. We remember one of these women living in Danshui as a shopkeeper who spoke Japanese-Hoklo to the great puzzlement of little kids.
And one of the few professors was 高坂知武Takasaka Tomotake (1901-1997) of National Taiwan University. He arrived in Taiwan an assistant professor in 1930, retired as Professor Emeritus and returned to Japan in 1987. He was a noted agricultural engineer/educator and an accomplished musician. He also founded the Imperial Taihoku University Symphony Orchestra which is now the NTU Symphony Orchestra. A building on NTU campus, the 知武館, was dedicated in 1989 in his honor.
A brief slide show of his life is presented here (accompanied by Haydn's Symphony No 94 in G-major - the very first piece performed by Prof Takasaka's orchestra in 1932):