2010年4月18日 星期日

Japanese orphans in China 中国残留日本人孤児

[Maestro Ozawa Seiji - we wish you a speedy recovery.]

In 1685, 500 藤牌兵 from Taiwan fought the Russians in Albazin, north of the Amur [the Black Dragon River黑龍江]. In the late 1930s, many Taiwanese went, in a supporting capacity, with the Japanese military to serve south of the Amur in 滿洲 - or 東北 [the Northeast of China, used to be 9 provinces, now 3: 遼寧, 吉林, and 黑龍江]. The Taiwanese certainly traveled far.

So how and why did the Japanese get there in the first place?

By the end of the 19th Century, there were already Japanese settlers heading for 東北 region. This continued unabated through 大正 (1912-1926) into the early 昭和 era. And large-scale Japanese migration into "滿洲" (and later "滿洲國"), orchestrated by the infamous 関東軍, went into full swing from 1932 onwards until 1945 [Note: A good summary of the Japanese “Agricultural Emigration” during this period can be found in: http://arts.monash.edu.au/publications/eras/edition-5/mcdowellarticle.php]

Also, the putative intents of the mass migration in the early 1900s were to counter Russian expansion and to resolve Japanese rural economy crisis. By some accounts, early settlers were led to believe that they were to populate unclaimed open lands. However, from 1932 on, the settlers were organized for a de facto takeover of 東北 farmland – often via forced acquisition from native farmers. Eventually, the whole enterprise, emboldened by China’s 不抵抗主義, degenerated into empire-building that culminated in the war with China and beyond. By September, 1944, there were 1,662,234 Japanese residing in 東北 and most were sent back to Japan in 1946-8 (see 葫芦岛市政府辽宁省社科院: “Repatriation of one million Japanese via Huludao” – some parts are available online).

Most famous among those repatriated young ones are the future music director of Boston Symphony Orchestra Seiji Ozawa (小澤 征爾, born in 1935 in 奉天, i.e., 瀋陽, father a dentist), and movie actor Toshiro Mifune (三船 敏郎, 1920-1997, born in 青島, grew up in 大連, father a professional photographer).

And it was probably the massive Han people migration into 東北 that actually saved it from being dominated by Japan. Han people went from 6 million in 1897 to 15–17 million at the end of the Qing dynasty. After that,the Japanese tried hard but could manage ultimately only 1.66 million settlers by 1944. By this time, the Han population was well over 17 million.

Since 1945, there are newly discovered/reported old consequences:

There have been a few thousand "中国残留日本人孤児" – abandoned Japanese babies/children adopted by Chinese foster parents in 1945 amidst disease, death, and destruction. In scenes that no doubt have repeated numerous times in all wars: most children were found alone crying by the roadside, some by the dead bodies of their mothers, and some were just infants left behind in vacant houses (detailed in http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2195). Their existence was first uncovered in 1965 by a group of Japanese journalists then visiting 鞍山. Very few of these children were adopted through formal arrangements, most were simply left behind because their parents either were dead or could not care for them any more. While most adopted children were treated as their own by the foster parents, some had lived on the margin of the Chinese society. And for others who returned to Japan after the 1970s, they found themselves again living on the margin of the Japanese society because of the language and culture barriers. A few Japanese families actually refused to acknowledge these orphans - in a way, also a denial of the painful past. Many foster children had elected to stay in China, before returning to Japan, to care for their now elderly Chinese parents. Most did re-enter the Japanese society.

There was an NHK 1995 TV series, 大地の子Son of the Great Earth, describing the life of such an abandoned little boy. Readers my wish to look it up.

There is more: In the 2004 "War Orphans" list released by the Japanese government, there was one baby girl adopted by the Russians. The description of her case in http://www.kikokusha-center.or.jp/joho/mihanmei/h16/h1612.htm reads [translates]: "On Aug 17, 1945 [note: Japan had surrendered on Aug 15; although fighting continued until Aug 26], near 牡丹江市, 掖河 Station, the Japanese armed forces were attacked by Soviet forces [note: no survivors on the Japanese side]. The baby was rescued by a Soviet soldier named "ミフリャ [note: this is pronounced Mifuliya but more likely, it’s Mifodzia] [note: the baby was crying among the ruins and was therefore discovered by the soldier]. When found, it was wearing a reddish brown coat, a yellow shirt and pants, and was wrapped in a blanket. Its nose was wounded by artillery bombardment." The baby was given the name "ニーナイヴァーノヴナポリャンスカヤ(Нина Ивановна Полянская)" [note: first name Nina that of the Russian nurse treating the wounded baby, middle name Ivanovitch that of the discovering Soviet soldier, and last name Boltyanskaya means "grand vision"] and later adopted by a Russian family. She visited Japan briefly in 2004 but chose to go back to Russia. She has never fully recovered from her wounds.

It was clearly a disastrous summer in 1945 for the Japanese settlers. Mass suicides were common. Some the then children now recall, in the ensuing months, the hunger, the winter cold, the deaths of siblings, hiding from the Russians, and yet retain fond memories of the place they used to call home. And because menfolks were sent to fight wars elsewhere, the remaining families became refugees amidst overwhelming hostilities. The ones escaped through Korea had an especially hard time; see, for example, the book "So far from the Bamboo Grove" by Yoko Kawashima-Watkins, New York, Viking Penguin, 1987 (Puffin Book). Its recollection of the maltreatment of the Japanese women-refugees by the Koreans has stirred up controversies leading to its ban in Korea, China, and some schools in the US [see here].

More about these Chinese foster parents: In one example of an interview in http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/141004.htm, "I did hesitate a little after we learned that it was a Japanese child," said Zhang Zhilan, Ran's foster mother. "I hated the Japanese army very much. They were so atrocious, killing Chinese civilians as if they were chopping a tree. But looking at the newly born infant, I made up my mind. If I was not going to raise him, he would soon die. After all, the child was innocent."

It is hard to imagine in the chaos of the war, some Chinese peasants who came across crying children/infants dressed in Japanese garments and decided on the spot to bring the children home. The Japanese reports describe them as 善良の中國百姓. It is far more than that because we are talking about 4,000 such children, not just a handful. This is a core character of Chinese farmers, far more benevolent, humane, and loving than others gave them credit for. It might have been the hundreds of years of influence from Buddhism, an ingrained morality if you will. For example, this saying "救人一命, 勝造七级浮屠 - Saving one life is even better than building a seven–storied pagoda" alone might have been very important in the farmers' decision to adopt.

20 則留言:

  1. Among the famous authors returned from Manchuria is Tomiko Miyao 宮尾登美子。The scene she described how she looks like taking the first bath after returning to Shikoku四国, Japan under the moon light was unforgettable.
    Indeed, there were so many Taiwanese in Manchuria helping Japanese on purposely or just for the sake of getting a better opportunity. One of my elder schoolmates was there for attending the medical school yet another friend was the third son born in Manchuria 満州, hence he was named as 満三。

  2. Hi ChoSan, thanks for the additional info. I know that among her many published books, 朱夏 and 仁淀川 describe her own life at the end and after the war, respectively.

    I wonder if your classmate had attended 満州醫學院, now China Medical University, where many Chinese doctors were also trained.

  3. You are absolutely right. Those students who could not make to Taihoku Imperial University台北帝国大学, Medical School医科 all have moved to Manchuria as their alternative since the new medical school was easier to enter compared to the medical schools in mainland Japan. It is interesting to notice that similar practice is still going on today by attending the famous St. George’s University in Grenada when one is rejected by all medical schools in the States. ChoSan

  4. Manshu Med School educated not only Japanese nationals but also local Chinese students. These Chinese physicians later served the population well.

    It was the same colonial medical education policy in Taiwan.

    Imperial Taihoku Univ Med School evolved through several stages as did all med schools in Japan. The classes were usually around 50% Taiwanese and the rest Japanese from Kyushu and Ryukyu, mostly from poor families. Not many were from Mainland Japan because Taiwan was still (incorrectly) perceived as a place with malaria and poisonous snakes. The entry exam into the only med school in Taiwan then was indeed very competitive, many went to Japan to study medicine instead and returned home to practice.

  5. What an odd, odd story in Japan Focus. The writing style is unusual too. It must be translated. I don't why know their parents didn't hold on to them. The anecdote about the Chinese woman hiding the Japanese child in a closet so her mother couldn't find her is odd too. Why would she do this? There's no explanation. Plus I don't get how the mother, after searching frantically, simply left without her offspring. Wow! Something is missing here.

    There is a list of points I find troubling inside the article. Almost every one is dubious:
    1. "They did not learn their own culture or have forgotten it." What is their own culture. Wouldn't it be Chinese? What is the writer trying to say? That if you're born Japanese, that should automatically trump everything else?
    2. "They have been deprived of the love of their birth parents." Your parents abandon you but they love you? I don't get the logic here.
    3. "They were forced into a life that they would not have chosen had their parents not immigrated to Manchuria." Well, doesn't every kid in the world live a life they have not chosen?
    4. "They lost not only their homes but also their homeland, Japan, and they have been deprived of their Japanese nationality." Is this actually right? How was Fujimori (ex-Peruvian leader able to escape to Japan and be protected there)? And what about #1. If we believe #1, they didn't lose their homeland; it is in their imagination.
    5. "Though usually Chinese citizens by default, they have been deprived of the universal human right to a nationality and are therefore unable to find their place in the system of nation-states." No, they are Chinese citizens.
    6. "As a result of all of the above, they do not know their deep identities." What does this mean? That identity is indeed race-based? It's a problematic statement.

  6. First, in time of war, common people do uncommon things, e.g., sheltering the innocents. The more common sentiment at that time was revenge-killing of the Japanese. That also did happen.

    Second, it is a legal matter. In the US, citizenship is based on place of birth. In Japan, China, and the more recent past in Taiwan, citizenship is based on that of the parents. The Japan Focus article refers to the loss of Japanese homeland and identity from the viewpoint of the war orphans. The Chinese certainly knew who they were and discriminated against them during, e.g., the Cultural Revolution. Once the secret is out (and sometimes not much of a secret at all), there is no holding back for the orphans to resume their [deep] Japanese identity and discard the [superficial] Chinese one. Race has nothing to do with it, it is a personal choice.

    Also, Fujimori has dual-citizenship; the Japanese one through his parents.

  7. Hi Patrick,

    Thinking about it more, I am not sure the West knows or cares to know anything about the plight of the Japanese evacuees from the Northeast of China, immediately after Aug, 1945. Mothers, Japanese or not, do not give up their children unless they are dead or the situation is absolutely hopeless. Also bad news traveled far, after the northern frontiers fell into Russian hands, the rest of the Japanese knew what awaited them. The local Chinese also knew it. Some sheltered the Japanese children out of profound kindness. One of them might have hid the kids for their protection. But that was only one of the 4,000 cases.

  8. It is strange that reading the same story on "Japan Focus", Patrick says it is odd and hard enough to accept it yet I have never feel the story is odd at all. I wonder if it were because I have survived through WWII and Patrick has not or both of us have a different cultural background? ChoSan

  9. Dear ChoSan: I think Patrick is just trying to stir things up a bit to make the discussion more interesting. As you, I also have no problems with the article.

    To be fair, the Japanese war orphans lived in a time/place unknown to many outside of Northeast China. There were also abandoned young women who have even harder time returning to Japan - thanks to the unnavigable Japanese bureaucratic maze. Human suffering knows no bounds.

  10. No, I am uncomfortable if not troubled with the undertones of it, which seem racist to me. Plus I need more time to digest concepts that are utterly "foreign" to my conscience.

    The abandonment of children, no matter what place on earth we're talking about, disturbs me, and can not be justified. It's an interesting and depressing topic to be sure, but I see the writer starting out with a bias and then writing a piece to support that bias. Thanks for writing about these kids, the victims of some kind of uniquely "foreign" and perverted selfishness that teaches people to save their own skins first.

    I say this in all honesty, as I do respect your points of view. I imagine we are on the same page at the end of the day; that has seemed to draw us together in most discussions. There are some topics we'll have to call our own though, and have to beg to respectfully differ on. Stirring up and deeply distressed are not the same thing.

  11. Rephrase = I say this in all honesty, as I do your points of views, just a matter of taste or experience....

  12. These orphans are "the victims of some kind of uniquely "foreign" and perverted selfishness that teaches people to save their own skins first"?

    Patrick, a lot of their kinfolks including their mothers were dead. A few questions for you: where did the Americans find those Vietnamese orphans who were flown out by the plane loads when Saigon fell? During the siege of Leningrad, how may babies survived? And how many babies were abandoned and left to die in the siege of Changchun? Only the Japanese do it?

  13. Eyedoc, it's a sad point on those who are the victims of history, namely children. Some look to make heroes of leaders, who sit in sterile offices, pushing buttons and giving orders and not being held accountable; but these people have blood on their hands. Of course, I agree with you as we're both speaking to same thing.

    The author of the piece I question has little use for Chinese parents; that person thinks that these kids will disregard them in sensing, intrinsically, they are Japanese. That is the part I question, that is all.

    "Foreign" = cannot be comprehended.

  14. No one will dispute the "victims of history" part. Some of us are among them and know it well.

    There was no historical precedents of war orphans, not on this scale anyway. Perhaps that is why it is beyond human comprehension. And the author of the Japan Focus article was trying too hard to make sense. The orphans' identity is not intrinsic. It depends on how much memory each orphan has retained. From talking with some now in their 70s who were repatriated early in their lives, I am amazed at the almost total recall of the childhood that they had left behind.

    In the sedition trial of 李香蘭 (Li Ko-lan or Yamaguchi Yoshiko, or Li Xiang-lan in Chinese), the well-known singer who was born and raised in Manchuria, the Chinese judge acquitted her primarily because she was born Japanese, but also because she had "Japanese blood yet the heart of a Chinese" (stated in the verdict). Li did not know she had to make the choice until the war ended when the choice was forced upon her. The war orphans did not have any choice, either. For them, the choice came later, not because of race but the basic human desire to belong, to be part of a culture, a way of life, even a dream. If you have been treated as a second class citizen most your life, then the choice to re-start as a full-fledged citizen elsewhere is easy.

  15. "No one will dispute the "victims of history" part. Some of us are among them and know it well."

    Yes, I know that. That is what your other blog is about in a sense. And yes, identity is not something we are born with; it's definitely not race based. Anyway, I am looking forward to your next post. I will re-read this post and lighten up too. Cheers.

  16. You have certainly showed passion - one of the two prerequisites for discussion with any significance. (The other being beer.) The next post may knock your socks off. We'll see.

  17. You have certainly showed passion - one of the two prerequisites for discussion with any significance. (The other being beer.) The next post may blow your socks off. We'll see.

  18. "(The other being beer.)" When are you coming back? I think I owe you a beer. Looking forward to your next post. This is such an interesting blog.

  19. I am actually in Taiwan now but am heading back to the US tomorrow - too short a stay for any serious beer drinking. Will be here again in late June and early July. Hope you are around then.

  20. You're racking up some serious air miles. I don't have travel plans until the fall. I'll see you come summer.