2011年9月21日 星期三

Tsunami津波 hit northeast Japan - Part 2

Much has been reported that the coastal areas of Northeast Japan were wiped out by the tsunami on March 11, 2011. And that a few cities including Miyako City 宮古市 have been erased off the map. Here is a report from Eyedoc who has decided to see it for himself:

宮古市, just like Danshui, is also a seaside town sitting next to a river that flows into the ocean. This fishing town is famous for not only fresh catches but also the scallops. It is located 90 km east of 盛岡市Morioka City, the capital of 岩手 Iwate Prefecture. It is a 2-hour bus ride from Morioka Station through the winding roads and tunnels cutting into the foot of the hills. Small patches of rice fields carved out of the sloping shores of a shallow brook abound. The entry into Miyako is far less dramatic than expected. It is simply there, an ordinary, quiet town. Although in its heyday, it was wall-to-wall tourists this time of the year. Below is the Miyako Station area where the last bus stop is with only a few pedestrians in sight:
Seeing no fallen buildings anywhere, the first question is where were all the damages. It turns out the city center has mostly been spared. The front edge of the tsunami mercifully stopped somewhere short of the train station, which was only one km away from the sea. Although along the narrow [main] street, there are still a few houses shuttered and a number of empty lots - the street had served as the conduit to the flood water. The devastation suddenly becomes clear in the bay area where the tidal wave entering the mouth of the river had overcome an entire area of houses and buildings leaving only the foundations behind. Here is one of the few remaining buildings that has sustained extensive damage:
Below: a few houses awaiting demolition and the grassy area is where residential houses used to be:
Traveling on the highway high above the shoreline from Miyako north, on the 浄土ヶ浜 Joto-ga-hama Bridge looking down, one can see a collapsed concrete bridge:
And on the other side of the highway bridge, among the utter destruction, one lone Jinga miraculously survived:
Then onto the 田老Taro area, supposed to be safe behind a 9-m tall levee system, was pretty much all gone leaving only remnants of the four walls of each house. The old Taro neighborhood is no longer:
Along this road, in front of the now disappeared houses, someone placed a few hundred rectangular boxes each packed with blooming flowers, adding color to a dreadful scene. A signal of hope, perhaps. Not too far from this spot, a gas station remains open; the pumps are manned by two gentlemen with the rest of the station in tatters. Resilience, Japanese style, it seems.

In all the flooded areas, all the debris have been removed and backhoes are still hard at work. One would expect an army of construction workers feverishly working on various reconstruction projects. This is, however, not to be, not yet anyway.

Life is of course no longer the same in Miyako. The famed Miyako scallops are now imported from Hokkaido. The fish caught here are not marketable because the rest of Japan suspects that seafood from Miyako has been contaminated with human flesh.

In talking with the residents in Miyako, one gets the impression that they are still quite hopeful in the eventual recovery of their beloved city. How long will it take, no one really knows.

The Kambaro Miyako [or Tohoku, or Morioka] signs are now everywhere urging the citizens to "Let's go!"

Let's hope the slogan shouting soon fades into memory and the area totally re-built.

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.

2011年9月3日 星期六

You are marrying whom !?

On May 2, 2010, news in Taiwan reported the resolution of 鄭施不通婚 [prohibition of marriages between the Chengs and the Shi's]. It was declared by the heads of two clan associations from Taichung (Cheng) and Hokkien (Shi) jointly. This proclamation is, however, both non-binding and without authority, so the 300-year-old tradition will continue.

The origin of this custom is the long-standing feud between Koxinga and Ming-Cheng turncoat 施琅Shi-Lang. Koxinga killed Shi-Lang's father and brother (1650) as a punishment for Shi's disobeying an order not to execute 曾德Tseng-Der. And years later (1683), Shi ended the Tung-Ning Dynasty on Qing's behalf. The restriction of marriages between the two families was originally limited to 泉州Chuan-chou area but later extended to all of Taiwan.

There is another marriage ban known only to the Koxinga-Cheng clan, i.e., never marry any 黄Huangs. It is not entirely clear why this practice; although it appears to be related to the conniving acts of another Ming-Cheng turncoat, 黄梧Huang-Wu.

[Above: The family temple of 黄梧Huang-Wu in 平和Pin-Ho County, 漳州Chang-chou]

A young 黄梧, after assassinating the corrupt head of his home county, joined Koxinga's forces in Amoy in the 2nd month of 1644 and received a mid-level appointment with 200 taels of silver as bonus. He distinguished himself in many battles against the Qing and rose through the ranks until 1650 when he found himself in a delicate situation.

When Koxinga ordered the arrest of Shi-Lang, Huang's superior 蘇茂Su-Mao actually allowed Shi to escape. Su-Mao was later killed and by implication, Huang was also found guilty and fined heavily (in the form of a contribution of 500 sets of armors). Huang subsequently became quite concerned of his own safety. In a transfer of duty to 海澄Hai-chen, the main logistic center of Ming-Cheng and the gateway to Amoy and Kinmoy, Huang decided to defect to the Qing and handed over the fort. For this act, he was awarded the title of Duke of 海澄. In the 3rd month of 1657, the Qing Court further honored his ancestors and provided funds to build his family temple (see above). In return, he plotted enthusiastically for the downfall of Koxinga. He trained a naval force (1658) and defeated 周端, Koxinga's commander in Hokkien (1660), recommended Shi-lang for the eventual invasion of Taiwan. And among his many proposals submitted to Qing Court was the 《平海五策》[The Five Strategies for Conquering the Sea] with one of them purely for personal vendetta:

四. 成功之祖先墳墓在各處,叛臣賊子罪誅及九族,何況其祖乎?應加以遷毀,慕露殄滅,使其命脈斷,則種類不待誅而自滅。[No 4: The nine relations of rebels/traitors are all punished by death, how can their ancestors be exempted. Koxinga's ancestral graves everywhere must be removed and destroyed and the remains exposed. This way, the whole lineage will be interrupted and the clan self-destructed without the need of exterminating them at all.]

In the 10th Month of 1662, 黄梧 submitted a confidential proposal to have Koxinga's father Cheng Zi-Long [and family members] executed.

Both proposals were accepted and carried out. Koxinga could not believe the news of his father's and brothers' death when he first learned of it in Taiwan. Soon after, he passed away, in apparent anguish.

This was not the end of the story, however.

In 1674, 耿精忠Geng Jing-Chung revolted against the Qing and 黃梧 seemed to have joined 耿 in this revolt (still being debated if this ever happened); although Huang soon died of a painful illness. In any case, his son 黃芳度Huang Fang-Du took over the defense of 漳州, then disputed with and fought against 耿. This was followed by surrendering to Koxinga's son Cheng Jing [who was then on a mission to recover the mainland]. 黃芳度, however, double-crossed Cheng Jing by secretly allying with the Qing and refused to host Cheng Jing in 漳州. Cheng Jing, sensing Huang's treachery, attacked the city and entered it when Huang's second-in-command 吳淑We-su opened the gate. Huang killed himself by jumping into a well at Kai-yuan Temple 開元寺. Cheng Jing ordered 黃梧's coffin opened and 黃芳度's body recovered, and both of them beheaded. Thirty some members of the Huang family were also executed.

One branch of the descendants of the surviving Huangs migrated to Taichung in 1878, and another to Ilan.

This specific order for the Koxinga-Chengs not to marry any Huangs is still in full effect today.