2011年11月13日 星期日

The Yoizuki Hell-ship Incident - Part 1

Quoted below are several 1946 articles in The Canberra Times that chronicled the 宵月Yoizuki Hell-ship Incident, an episode that involved the repatriation of Taiwanese families of about 350 individuals, then interned in Australia together with other POWs.

Apparently the Australian military wanted to cram more than 1,000 individuals onto the 2,700-ton Japanese destroyer Yoizuki when the Taiwanese objected. All Taiwanese by then had become nationals of the Republic of China; nonetheless, the ones in Australia were all treated as Japanese subjects to be kicked out of Australia. The internees and the POWs were promised that if they were to sail from Sydney to Rabaul on Yoizuki, they would be allowed to re-board a larger hospital ship before sailing off again.

In no position to refuse, 1,005 repatriates were forced to embark and suffered through the most deplorable living conditions during the 2,000-mile voyage. The Australian military officials obviously had intended to give the "Japs" the deadly hell-ship treatment as a payback - in fact, one soldier's mother wrote to the newspaper:
"Has "Ex-TX2162" forgotten the way mothers' sons were crowded in prison hell ships during the war, with no room to move or decent food to eat, that he cries out about a little overcrowding on the Yoizuki? My son lost his life through hunger and cruelty. I, for one. can't forget. (Signed) LONELY MOTHER".

To the credit of the Australian press which generated enough public outcry that prompted the civilian gov't to investigate; unfortunately, in the typical time-honored bureaucratic fashion, the blame was put squarely on the repatriating victims for the over-crowding and the unsanitary conditions on board the Yoizuki. The investigating mission even declared that all evacuees appeared happy and healthy with no sicknesses resulting from being on board the destroyer. Case closed.

The Taiwanese eventually arrived home; however, to this day, there has been practically no report on this Yoizuki Hell-ship incident. The evacuees were most likely too overjoyed to have finally come home to voice/file any complaints. Then again, no one in authority in Taiwan or the Central Gov't in Nanjing would have cared; after all, the "Japs" were the enemy and by association, the Taiwanese as well. Less than one year later, the 228 Incident took place which was quickly followed by the reign of the White Terror. And the Yoizuki Hell-ship Incident disappeared from the collective memory.

To preserve a little bit of the history, the Australian reports are quoted in toto and posted here:

The Canberra Times Friday 15 March 1946

The removal of women and children from the Yoizuki and the reduction of the total number of passengers could mean only one thing that the authorities had decided that the ship was overcrowded. This statement was made in a broadcast from Canberra last night by Mr. Alan, Fraser, Labour member for Eden Monaro.

Some lobby speculation attaches to the position of Mr. Fraser, Who, is claimed to have received the displeasure of some of his party colleagues for statements on the Yoizuki incident.

Some Labour members have personally supported Mr. Fraser's stand in the lobbies, claiming that any Labour member is entitled to express his own opinions so long as they are not a contradiction of Labour policy. In his broadcast last night, Mr. Fraser said he believed the original grounds of protest on the Yoizuki incident were justified, but the important point was how this has come about. It would not have come about had there not been public interest and great publicity.

In the debate, Mr. Chifley had quoted with approval General MacArthur's statement that the loading of the Yoizuki was not a matter of Government policy but of administrative action by officials. Mr. Chifley also stated that he knew nothing of the Yoizuki charges until three hours after she had sailed.

"It is astonishing to me," said Mr. Fraser, "that those who allege newspaper falsehood and inaccuracy in this matter, nevertheless have relied solely on newspaper reports to base their criticism of me. Not one has sufficiently doubted the accuracy of the newspapers as to ask me for a copy of what I said.

"While this has become a political issue now, it was not so last Thursday. I accept the reports then published as the honest work of men whom I know personally, men who are newspaper reporters not political correspondents, men who deal in facts not in opinions, and men whose political views are certainly not unfavourable to this Government.

"The war inevitably blunted belief in the value and dignity of individual human life. It is essential to re-sharpen that belief. No greater injury could be done to our democratic society at this stage than to let pass unregarded allegations of inhumanity.

"It is essential also to assert unmistakably the supremacy of civil government over military commands. My responsibility, as a member of the National Parliament, is not abolished because General Sturdee says he is satisfied. A great Labour leader, who has passed from us, impressed on me and other new members that an important part of our duty, as private members was to act as watchdogs for the people on executive action.

"Mr. A. G. Cameron shows failure to understand the duties of a member of Parliament when he says that I must either vote against the Government or repudiate my statement.

"I have a duty, which I will continue to emphasise as a private member, to criticise and, if necessary oppose, the executive action of the Government of which I am a policy supporter. But that is an entirely different thing from voting against such a Government to place in power Mr. Cameron and his colleagues whose policy would bring despair and misery not only to a few Formosans but to hundreds of thousands of Australian men, women and children."

The Canberra Times Thursday 21 March 1946

Loading Exceeded Directions by General MacArthur

The Japanese destroyer Yoizuki was overcrowded and in a filthy condition when it arrived at Rabaul from Sydney.

This was revealed in the Government investigating mission's report tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley).

The report, made by Mr. Justice Simpson and Brigadier F. G. Galleghan, stated that the total on board was 1005, plus the crew.

The mission found that if additional family members of the internees and P.O.W.'s were to be embarked when the Yoizuki was at Sydney, an equivalent number of unattached males should have been taken off so that the number would not have exceeded 948 as laid down by General MacArthur.

There were no cases of sickness on the voyage from Sydney to Rabaul, except cases of sea-sickness. The mission received no complaints of any ill-treatment on the voyage, although they especially asked for complaints.

The report added, "Despite the orders from General MacArthur stipulating that 948 passengers embark, the actual number embarked was 1005. We are satisfied that this was brought about by a mistaken view of the military authorities governing the embarking, and was actuated by a humanitarian desire to keep families together and, in so doing, they had overloaded the ship by 57 persons."

It seems to us probable, too, that they were influenced by the fact that any other ship calling at Sydney would have had to include amongst a preponderant Japanese party some 57 Formosans and Koreans, with a grave possibility of trouble on board.

We consider that a mistake was made in this regard but we do not consider that it was a mistake that calls for any disciplinary action against the officers concerned.

The report added, "It is difficult to find words adequate to describe the filthy conditions existing on the Yoizuki. The lavatories did not appear to have been cleaned for some days and the galley was littered with scraps of food in varying stages of decomposition. The quarters of the family groups were clean and some effort had been made to obtain comfort.

"The surrendered personnel did not appear to have made any effort to maintain personal hygiene and the stench from their quarters was overpowering. These conditions were brought about, we feel confident, by the fact that the passengers refused to obey the orders of the ship's captain, and the officers and crew resigned themselves to the conditions.

In this regard, there was a marked distinction between the crew's quarters, which were clean and neat, and the passengers' accommodation, and the conditions were similar as regards space and lay-out."

The mission summed up its' findings as:

1.-The number 948 was agreed to by General MacArthur, such number to include women and children.

2.-The standard of accommodation was equivalent to the standard that the Japanese provided for their own personnel when transported by sea.

3.-The ship was overloaded to the extent of about 57 persons, such overloading was caused by a desire not to separate family groups or to leave in Australia a small number of Formosans.

4.-On this voyage the number should have been limited to 800 or the amount of baggage each person embarked with should have been restricted to hand baggage.

5.-A very considerable proportion, at least half, of the family groups would have chosen to go on with the ship rather than risk delay while awaiting another ship.

6.-There were no complaints of ill-treatment by the Japanese officers or crew and no necessity to put any armed guards on board for the protection for the Formosans and Koreans.

7.-The food was ample.

8.-Tile lavatory accommodation was satisfactory.

9.-The medical equipment and drugs were adequate.

10.-There were four doctors on board, including the Japanese doctor.

11.-Fresh water allowance was sufficient, but no more than sufficient.

12.-The filthy conditions of the ship were caused by the unwillingness of the passengers to collaborate with the crew in the cleaning of the vessel.

Members of the mission considered that a serious mistake had been made in allowing passengers to embark with very large quantities of luggage. They considered that as the ship had been designed to carry 948 passengers, each should have been accompanied only by the same amount of luggage as a soldier would carry. The amount of luggage permitted to be embarked was very great indeed, particularly that taken by family groups.

The report added that when family groups were disembarked at Rabaul, it took two landing barges to carry the luggage to the shore and nine three-ton trucks, packed to capacity, to carry the luggage from the shore to the camp site. In addition, each person carried by hand much personal luggage. It was because of the very large amount of luggage that had been permitted to be embarked that the mission came to the conclusion that not more than 800 should have been carried on this voyage. There was no place to stow surplus luggage on the vessel and the luggage, therefore, had to be stowed in passenger accommodation, resulting in reduced space being available for personnel.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) moved that the report be printed and the debate adjourned.

The Canberra Times Friday 15 March 1946

SYDNEY, Thursday.

The Red Cross representative at Rabaul states that none of the Yoizuki repatriates appeared to be the slightest bit affected by their voyage from Sydney.

None of the stretcher cases put aboard in Sydney was in a serious condition and the expectant mother had not yet given birth to a child

Although Justice Simpson's official report is not yet to hand, it is understood the investigators are satisfied that no deaths occurred on the voyage and that sickness had, in fact, decreased

A special plane bearing the committee of investigation, was forced back to Rabaul to-day because of engine trouble .

It is possible the aircraft will leave for Sydney either late tonight or early to morrow .

The Canberra Times Thursday 14 March 1946


Ship Sailed Brought Back To Pick Up Formosans

RABAUL, Wednesday.

A sensation developed today when it was ascertained that the Japanese hospital ship Hawata Maru [note: this should be Hikawa Maru - see also insert on top left], which had been dispatched to Rabaul to pick up the Formosan men, women and children repatriates who had been disembarked from the destroyer Yoizuki, had left without picking up the repatriates and could not be intercepted.

A naval patrol vessel was sent in pursuit and later brought the ship back

The repatriates were standing by motor transport which was to convey them to the hospital ship when it moved off at 1:20 pm.

The counter-orderlies to the captain of the hospital ship did not come from the army or navy.

The Yoizuki sailed last night for Japan after taking on 147 more male Formosans.

Before its departure, the Investigation Commission spent five hours aboard making a thorough investigation.

The repatriates taken from the destroyer were conveyed by army lorries to a compound and special food was provided by the Red Cross for the mothers and babies.

On the way to the camp the repatriates, saw Formosans and others working on roads, and waved and shouted greetings.

Apparently the only ones who were ill, were those who were hospital cases before they embarked on the ship in Sydney.

On the hospital ship there are five doctor's, three Japs and two Formosans.

A senior Red Cross representative at Rabaul (Mr A Scotford) said he was surprised at the general condition of the Formosans but he was not permitted to inspect the Yoizuki. The Formosans were in good health, happy and also in a clean state.

Guards were placed round the Formosans camp and special passes were necessary to enter it.

Mr Scotford said that one of the men who came off at Rabaul, told him the ship had travelled well and that passengers had a good voyage with only one patch of rough weather.

He added that the destroyer was scarcely built for comfort.

Mr Scotford was told there was no one seriously ill among the men, women and children taken off at Rabaul.

It is expected that Mr Justice Simpson and his colleagues will leave by special plane for Australia tomorrow.

It was stated today that the Hawatu [note: Hikawa] Maru may call at Truk in the Carolines, en route to Formosa.

Justice Simpson and his colleagues refused to make any comment. He said the report will be submitted to the Prime Minister on his return.

Pictures in London Paper

LONDON, Wednesday.

The Daily Mail used two and three-column pictures on its front page of passengers boarding the Jap destroyer in Sydney.

The pictures, which were received by air mail show, firstly a bewildered Formosan mother with a child in her arms and another on her back boarding the "hell-ship" secondly, two Australian military policeman forcing a Japanese prisoner aboard the ship; and, thirdly three Formosan girls weeping.

7 則留言:

  1. "Quoted below are several 1946 articles in The Canberra Times that chronicled the 宵月Yoizuki Hell-ship Incident, an episode that involved the repatriation of Taiwanese families of about 350 individuals, then interned in Australia together with other POWs."

    This is a bit confusing. Who were these people? Taiwanese individuals who had immigrated to Australia? Why didn't they just say they were Chinese? Did they have Japanese travel documents? Even so, why didn't they just say they were Chinese. This must have happened elsewhere.

    I've been interested in Taiwanese immigration to the US during the 19th century. I have yet to come up with anything (the Taiwanese who came to the US probably sailed from Hong Kong and were probably considered Chinese up until 1895 and after that I have no idea).

    I have never heard of Japanese (or Formosan) people being "repatriated" after the Second World War from either the US or Canada. In regards to your quote, I'm guessing the Formosans came to Australia after 1895. Is that right? Like I said, this is confusing. Chinese (Taiwanese?) individuals in the US and Canada, for example shop owners, put signs on their places saying "We're Chinese" to escape the knee-jerk violence that occurred immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor -- this seemed to have worked for them. Furthermore, I've never heard of Chinese people being regarded as POWs in either the US or Canada, or aliens at this time. Along similar lines, I've never heard of a single Taiwanese person being put in a camp there.

    Once again, what stopped these individuals in Australia from simply claiming they were Chinese, hence not the enemy, like what must have happened in the US or Canada.

    1. The vast majority of Taiwanese internees in Australia were not immigrants to Australia. Instead, they were immigrants to Indonesia (Netherlands East Indies) who had been interned in Australia on behalf of the Indonesian government. It seems that most of them probably held Japanese nationality since they immigrated to Indonesia during the Japanese colonial period (after 1895 and before WWII). The Taiwanese internees had originally been interned in Indonesia but they were shipped off to Australia when the Indonesian government fled to Australia in exile in order to escape the Japanese invasion of Indonesia. As such, the Taiwanese internees in Australia were actually foreigners, not settlers/migrants, and they had minimal rights under Australian law, which explains why they were all deported from the country immediately after their release from the internment camps.

  2. Who were these people? From what we were able to uncover was that they were the employees (and families) of the 台灣拓殖株式會社Taiwan Takushoku Co founded in 1937. They were working in the Dutch East Indies in farming and other businesses and were detained after the Dutch declared war on Japan in Dec 1941. They were classified as Enemy Aliens because Taiwanese were Japanese nationals at that time. They could identify themselves as ethnic Chinese but not as Chinese nationals simply because they were not legally so. They became Chinese nationals only after Aug 1945 when Japan surrendered and Taiwan reverted back to the Chinese (KMT) rule.

    There was no repatriation of Japanese from the US or Canada because the internees were American/Canadian citizens having migrated there in the late 19th century. They were detained on security grounds, not because they were enemy aliens. The Australians deliberately blurred the distinction because of their Whites only policy.

    Pretty much all Japanese (including Formosa) POWs were sent to Australia camps, perhaps only a handful ever ended up in Hawaii. There were very few Japanese (including Formosan) POWs during the Pacific War, most chose to fight to the death, starved to death, or died from illnesses. The Allied Forces also did not hesitate in executing those captured in combat.

    Again, those repatriated on the Yoizuki were ethnic Chinese/Formosan, not Chinese nationals, who would not have enjoyed the rights of the latter. To add a little more: They did identify themselves as Chinese while being repatriated in 1946 and the ROC consulate officials in Sydney did intervene on their behalf, to no avail, however. Because it was a great opportunity to get rid of all Asians as far as Australia was concerned.

    I wonder if this part of the Taiwan history, the 台灣拓殖株式會社, is even mentioned in the new museum in Tainan.

  3. "I wonder if this part of the Taiwan history, the 台灣拓殖株式會社, is even mentioned in the new museum in Tainan." I don't think so (though I'm guessing a museum like that will be a work in progress).

    I doubt it would have occurred to people in the US or Canada that some of the Chinese people in their midst were actually Taiwanese (or to these very individuals for that matter). I'm really curious about Taiwanese immigration to North America in the 19th century. A Taiwanese person going to the US or Canada circa 1895 would have probably sailed from Hong Kong and been classified as Chinese though. There would have been lots of paper work to deal with the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) which made it hard unless you had a family member (which would have required documentation) already living there. A lot of these sorts of documents were destroyed in the 1906 S.F. earthquake. S.F. was the major landing point.

  4. I seem to remember your mentioning the Chinese immigrants. They were mostly Taishanese (from Canton province), not Taiwanese. And they did arrive in SF in time for the Gold Rush. You probably know San Francisco's Chinese name is 舊金山, a reference to its golden past.

    The Chinese exclusion Act was easily bypassed. One could purchase the birth certificate of a deceased American-Chinese and assume his identity. A lot of the descendants of these men are still around. I personally know of a few.

  5. "The Chinese exclusion Act was easily bypassed. One could purchase the birth certificate of a deceased American-Chinese and assume his identity. A lot of the descendants of these men are still around. I personally know of a few."

    Maybe you can do a blog post. Reading their stories would be interesting.

    "They were mostly Taishanese (from Canton province), not Taiwanese." Lots of Taiwanese were from Canton province as well (especially Hakka people). I bet some of them doubled back and then went out to North America. BTW, a lot of fourth or fifth generation Chinese Americans were Hakka. East London in South Africa has a good-sized Chinese population from the late 1800s and they are also Hakka.

  6. The birth certificate purchase is usually a family secret revealed only on important occasions, for example, in wedding invitations, the surname of the bride/groom must be in the original real name, so that the family origin is not forgotten.

    Doubled back then to the US? Possible but unlikely.

    We don't usually regard Hakka as Cantonese even though most are from Canton. In fact, they were adversaries in the not too distant past. And Hakka departed from Swatow, not Hong Kong - only the Cantonese left from HK.

    You are right, the Hakka did migrate to S Africa in the late 1800s, also to British Columbia Canada (then perhaps south to America), Melbourne Australia, and Otago NZ, directly from China. As others, they left China for a better life especially after the Hakka-led Taiping Rebellion was put down by the Qing in 1864. China was a dangerous place for the Hakka then, no one in their right mind would go back from Taiwan even if only in transit. Of course, strange things do/did take place. We'll keep looking.