2011年9月5日星期一

The Seediq and the Ainu

The Seediq and the Ainu, two aboriginal people that had revolted under the Japanese rule.

This is a unique dragon-and-bell lantern with both bronze and iron parts located on the grounds of 塩竈Shiogama Jinja in Shiogama City. It was dedicated in 1814 to commemorate the safe return of 仙台Sendai servicemen from a mission to the 蝦夷Ezo Region. Ezo Region was annexed by Japan and renamed 北海道Hokkaido in 1867, 28 years before the annexation of Taiwan.

Ezo or Ainuアイヌ are the original indigenous people in Japan, now officially estimated at 25,000 in population size. Outside of Hokkaido, they can also be found living in Russia-controlled Kuril Islands, the Sakhalin Island, and the Kamchatka Peninsula.

During the Tokugawa德川 period (1600–1868), the Matsu-ma-e松前 clan was granted the exclusive right to trade with the Ainu. The clan had also distributed the trading right to a number of Japanese merchants. And with it, the unavoidable conflicts that resulted in the Ainu revolts, e.g., the Shakushain's Revolt (シャクシャインの戦い, 1669-1672) and the Kunashir-Menashi Rebellion (クナシリ・メナシの戦い, 1789). These uprisings, unfortunately, had failed to liberate the Ainu from Japanese exploitation and oppression. To maintain control, even though the Matsumae clan was charged with the defense of the northern border, troops from different parts of mainland Japan were still needed - hence the lantern memorial shown in the photo above.

[Above: Ainu harvesting seaweed, painting by 歌川国輝Kuniteru II, dated 1871.]

The subsequent management of the Ainu included the following:

In 1899, the Japanese government enacted the "Former Aborigines Protection Act", that effectively stripped the Ainu of their aboriginal status and their rights to transfer land ownership [their common ancestral land already had been confiscated 30 years earlier and given to Japanese settlers from the south]. To avoid persecution, intermarriages with the Japanese were actively promoted by the Ainu themselves.

In 1997, the 1899 law was repealed, acknowledging the existence, but not the recognition of the legal status, of ethnic minorities in Japan.

And on June 6, 2008, Japan formally recognized Ainu as an indigenous group and with it, the re-establishment of the tribal identity.

The 1899 law had instituted compulsory public education for Ainu children. Other laws forced the Ainu to learn Japanese language and adopt Japanese names. The managing policy was essentially to force Ainu into the Japanese culture complete with Japanese citizenship. This experiment has failed - after 109 years.

The Japanese Colonial Gov't in Taiwan had employed the same seemingly successful approach at the time in managing the Aborigines. And the results varied from tribe to tribe even among the tribes. In the case of the Seediq [Atayal], the forced assimilation finally culminated in the 霧社WuShe Incident in 1930 - now a well-known part of the Taiwan history and a potentially blockbuster movie "Seediq Bale 賽德克 巴萊" - Part 1 to be shown in theaters in Taiwan on Sept 9 and Part 2, Sept 30:

In this Incident, the Japanese not only deployed its superior fire-power with poison gas, mountain canons, mortars, machine guns, and aerial bombardment, but also pitted a rival Seediq tribe and other pro-Japan tribes against the rebellious WuShe Seediq in hand-to-hand combats.

In the aftermath, the Japanese Native Policy was revamped and re-implemented with apparent success; in fact, many Aborigines, including the Atayal, later joined the Takasago Volunteer Army and took part in the Pacific War [for more, see here]. After 1945, they were, however, deemed too pro-Japan and were subjected to intense re-education.

Perhaps as the inspiring examples of fighting the Japanese to the death, two of the WuShe Seediq, 花岡一郎 [tribal name: 拉奇斯諾敏] and 花岡二郎 [tribal name: 達基斯那威] were inducted into the Taipei County [New Taipei City] Martyrs' Shrine in our little town Danshui (in ca 1968). There is a problem, though: They did not participate in the revolt; instead, both had committed suicide and died an honorable warrior's death, 一郎 in the Japanese style and 二郎, the Aboriginal tradition. [Note: They were not related despite the brotherly names.]

An additional observation: With the anti-Japan (and the inherently pro-Aboriginal) theme, this Seediq Bale movie, praised by both KMT and DPP party chiefs, should be well received in Communist China, far more so than the Japan-philic Cape No 7 海角七號 (2008) - another commercial success also directed by Director 魏德聖 - unless the minority uprising is too sensitive an issue. It also remains to be seen if the Japanese Film Board allows this movie to be shown in Japan. These will be an interesting test of "Art transcends politics" - Wei's wish after failing to convince the Venice Film Festival organizers that his movie was produced in Taiwan, not China-Taiwan.

4 則留言:

  1. Very interesting stuff. Can't wait to see the movie. I'm guessing that not a lot of high-level market analysis went into the Romanized title of the movie, which ought to attract the bale and seed crowd (farmers?), but not many others who don't already have some familiarity with the subject. Maybe they're not overly concerned with the distant markets.

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  2. That is a very good point. The movie actually has an English title: "Warriors of the Rainbow" which does not generate any more familiarity, either.

    The producers are of course very concerned with the overseas markets. The goal is NT$1.1 billion in total receipts. The US and Euro distribution rights have already been sold.

    The international version will only be 2.5 hours long (vs the current 4.5 hours), so a lot of details will be left out. Check your local listing wherever you are, you'll most surely enjoy it - even the abbreviated edition.

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  3. If their goal is to generate foreign revenue, they need to do a better job of making it available than they did with Cape No. 7. I would love to see that movie but haven't been able to find it.

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  4. Cape No 7 is a low-budget movie. They probably are already very happy with the gross with limited marketing. It is available on line now, just google "海角七號" within YouTube.

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