We had an exchange of emails, and I asked him if he knew of any diaries by Japanese soldiers on their experiences in Taiwan in the '20s and '30s available in English. He replied that he didn't know of any, but was working on translations of Kondo Katsusaburo's experiences up to and during the 1930 Wushe revolt, which had been serialized in the local Taiwan Japanese-language papers. Would I like that? You bet! And so without further ado, here it is. Dr. Barclay has provided an introduction.
"Kondō the Barbarian" Tells his Life Story: A Key to Understanding the Truth about the Wushe Uprising
Compiled and translated by Paul D. Barclay, general editor of the Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection (http://warner.lafayette.edu/) and Associate Professor of History, Lafayette College, Easton, PA, USA.
Kondō “the Barbarian” Katsusaburō had first-hand knowledge and long acquaintance with the principals of the Wushe Rebellion of October 1930. As something of a publicity hound, Kondō was only too eager to disseminate his analysis of the long-term and proximate causes of the rebellion, to both the reading public and Japanese district officials in Taiwan.
Kondō Katsusaburō was born on December 10, 1873. Nothing is known about his childhood, except that he was the eldest son of Kondō Mankichi and Chiyo (nee Kawahara) of Myōzai (名西) in Tokushima City, Tokushima prefecture. Kondō was a Puli-based merchant who closed shop in response to a Japanese punitive embargo against Wushe ca. 1900. Thereafter, he married into two different chiefly lineages in Sedeq country to further his commercial objectives and Japan’s political goals. Kondō also claimed to be fictive kin of Truku headman and power-broker Bassau Bōran and adoptive “father” to several Aborigine females. Thanks to a historical fluke, a detailed portrait of Kondō’s sense of self, mission, and nation is available to historians for scrutiny.
Kondō’s most complete version of his life in the Puli-Wushe corridor was serialized in a twenty-nine installments in the Taiwan nichinichi shinpō (Taiwan Daily News) between December 20, 1930 and February 15, 1931, as “Musha sōjō no shinsō o aku hitotsu no kagi! ‘Seiban Kondō’ shi no hansei o monogataru” ("Kondō the Barbarian" Tells his Life Story: A Key to Understanding the Truth about the Wushe Uprising ). The first installment appeared while the wounds from the October 27th uprising were still raw.
On that day, assailants from six villages of Sedeq tribesmen from the Tak-Daya (Wushe) cluster of hamlets in central Taiwan killed 134 Japanese and two Taiwanese at various exposed guard-posts and a school sports-festival. The rebellion’s short-term success suggested gross incompetence on the part of the government-general. Moreover, since the village of Wushe was thought to be a model of Japanese success in Aborigine administration, boasting schools, a hospital, and other accoutrements of the civilizing mission in the heart of recently pacified head-hunting country, the pre-meditated and deftly executed attacks undermined the colonialists’ sense of confidence. In the finger-pointing and soul-searching that followed Japan’s day of infamy in central Taiwan, governor-general Inuzuka Eizō was forced to step down to take responsibility for the apparent failures that led to Wushe.
The Taiwan government-general wasted no time sending officials into the villages and hamlets surrounding Wushe to find out where, how, and why the rebellion was hatched. It appears that Kondō’s journey to Wushe in November 1930 was an ancillary part of this fact gathering effort. Bold headlines on page five in twenty-nine issues of the Taiwan nichinichi shinpō trumpeted “Kondō the Barbarian’s Saga” as a key to understanding the complex chain of events that led up to this violent confrontation. The following installments are my translations of Kondō's recollections, as reported to a journalist named Watanabe Sei.
For readers who want to view Kondō’s recollections in their original language, and also see the redundant sections I have excised, a complete transcription with annotations is available in the pages of the journal Taiwan genjūmin kenkyū. See Paul D. Barclay, "'Seiban Kondo' no monogatari: chuo sanmyaku odan ni inochi o kaketa Nihonjin no shoden." (The Saga of 'Kondo the Barbarian': A Japanese Life Spent Crossing Taiwan's Central Mountains). Taiwan Genjumin Kenkyū (Studies on Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan) 8 (2004):105-151.
The text below is translated from the microfilm copies of the Taiwan nichinichi shinpō issued by Yumani shobō, Tokyo, except for installment twenty-nine, which is illegible in the Yumani series. That final installment can be found in the hard copies of Taiwan nichinichi shinpō preserved at the Center for Media Studies at the Institute for Social Science, University of Tokyo. I have re-titled the 29 installments, which all appear under the same headline in the original series, to provide readers with guideposts to a very prolix and occasionally confusing memoir.—Paul Barclay
Chapter One: Return to Wushe
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō December 20, 1930)
There are many opinions regarding the true causes of the Wushe Uprising. Reliable, verifiable evidence, however, is scant; and it seems that the search for a solution has come to an impasse. But it may well be that the story of Kondō Katsusaburō, who has spent his adult life in Taiwan, can provide us with a key to solving this mystery, [and others related to it]. Since his arrival in 1896, Kondō has forged long-standing and deep ties with the tribes near Wushe, [the site of the rebellion]. Kondō's younger brother Gisaburō is said to have played a role in the current disturbances [as well], operating behind the scenes. Is this true? Whatever became of this younger Kondō? How did the first Japanese to cross Taiwan's Central Mountain Range, Captain Fukahori's expedition, lose their way and become victims [of Taiwan’s “savage territory”]?
When the recent incident broke out [on October 27th, 1930], Kondō threw caution to the wind and sought to contact Mahebo's chief, Mona Ludao. He wanted to apprehend Ludao alive, but thanks to the misguided interference of an official who must remain nameless, his plans to enter the mountains were thwarted and he sadly returned to Hualian Harbor. An[other] official did, however, secretly order Kondō to Puli to investigate [the causes of the rebellion]. Kondō had spent many years in Puli, where he resided from 1896 to 1918. Kondō was intimate with the affairs of the area’s Truku, Toda, Wushe and Wanda tribes. About two months prior to the uprising, a letter arrived from a Truku headman named Bassau Bōran, begging Kondō to come visit. Bassau Bōran had been like a father to Kondō. Kondō later recalled with deep regret, "if I would have gone [to Truku country in late summer of 1930], maybe this horrible incident could have been averted." In any event, Kondō departed Hualian Harbor as instructed, reaching Puli on October 30th .
Beginning on October 31st he gathered information from the Aborigines of Truku, Toda, Wanda, and Paalan. Kondō is conversant in all of their languages. Kondō looked into which tribes had participated in the recent savagery; he confirmed that all of them lacked rebellious sentiment. Kondō quickly cabled [his superior] to report his [exculpatory] findings. On the morning of November 2d, Kondō heard that his adopted daughter Pira Piho, the birth daughter of Mahebo village's Piho Ryū, had been detained in connection with the uprising. Kondō embarked for the sub-prefectural office in order to arrange a meeting. Pira Piho had wed a Japanese man named Nakata Yasutarō. Pira later gave birth to Nakata's child, Nakata Yasuko, who was now a sixteen-year-old senior at Taizhong Women's Higher School. Pira Piho had survived as a widow and single mother for the past several years, working at a sugar manufacturing company in Puli.
Around 11 o'clock that morning, as he passed behind the sub-prefect's office, Kondō found Pira amongst a crowd of women preparing rice balls. When she saw Kondō, Pira rushed out and quickly led him to the back of a Taiwanese's house. Upon meeting her adoptive father, whom she had not seen in thirteen years, Pira Piho could not suppress her tears, sobbing in a mixture of happiness and sadness.
"You almost certainly know something about the recent events; if you can tell me without concealing or holding anything back, you will not only help the nation, but also yourselves," said Kondō, who impatiently cross-examined Pira, despite her tears.
"I well understand the reason [that Wushe rebelled]. I met Mahebo village's chief Mona Ludao at the beginning of last month, when he came to Puli to buy an ox. Mona Ludao told me that if a disturbance broke out, Kondō would come without fail; he asked me to relay the following message."
'Since the time the brothers Kondō were [in Puli], the Police have not honored, in the least, their agreement to lend us the guns promised as part of our settlement [with the government]. Therefore, I have been in trouble for a long time. Because [the local Aborigine youths] Ichirō and Jirō worked for the [colonial] police, every village knew that the Japanese police were being unfair. The Wushe tribes were not allowed to borrow firearms, as per the agreement, and could only get a bullet or two for ammunition, even though other tribes were given many firearms. When this happened, everyone blamed me; once I was even beaten. The Police always played us falsely. Even after the Tatsutaka guardline campaign, there wasn't a single word of gratitude, which made it very difficult for me to conciliate the members of our tribe. Moreover, because the corvée labor demands [connected with this campaign] were so onerous, the fields became overgrown, and the farmers' livelihoods were put at risk. Under these conditions, one could not make a good living.
Hōgō village was first to initiate complaints. For a long time, Piho Waris, eldest son of Waris Bau (who had been burned to death [in his house by the Japanese]), was plotting revenge. Piho was noisily insistent upon this and could not be dissuaded. [Hanaoka] Ichirō was also related to Waris Bau, while Jirō was the nephew of Mahon Bashi, who also perished with Waris Bau in the conflagration.’
Pira Piho continued on: "Because I wanted to pass this story along to you, I have waited and stayed alive until this day. My life has no other purpose." A brooding Kondō tried to comfort his daughter and they parted ways. Within thirty minutes, Kondō received the word that Pira had hanged herself.
Chapter Two: Kondō Arrives in Puli
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō December 21, 1930)
To begin our story, let us ask, "just what sort of person is Kondō Katsusaburō?" Kondō was born in Tokushima prefecture and served in the Sino-Japanese War [of 1894-95]. After returning home from the war, he went to Hong Kong to learn the flour manufacturing business. While in Hong Kong, Kondō happened to hear about the bandits and head-hunting savages of Japan's new colonial territory, Taiwan. He even heard rumors of cannibalism among them. Kondō could not help but be interested in the mentality of such people, so he suddenly abandoned his job and made the passage across the strait. From the start, Kondō was not your run-of-the-mill colonist. For some twenty-three years, since 1896, he has mediated between the government and the Taiwan Aborigines.
[In early 1897,] he joined Captain Fukahori's expedition to cross the central mountain range. Kondō alone survived to carry out the captain's mission. [A decade later,] without taking any casualties, Kondō toiled to extend three different guardlines. He was known as "Kondō the Barbarian," and the Aborigines regarded him as a god. [Governor] General Sakuma [Samata] and [Police Chief] Ōtsu Rinpei frequently utilized Kondō's services, largely to entice the Aborigines to surrender their weapons or to invite them on sight-seeing tours [of Taibei or Tokyo].
[Upon arriving in Taiwan,] Kondō decided right-off that, "since Taizhong is Taiwan's very center, that is where I'll study the Aborigines." At that time, there were no Japanese living near Puli [Taizhong]. Because of "bandit" activity, even the army and police had temporarily retreated. Only jukuban (acculturated Aborigines), the samuwan, lived near the old walled town of Puli. On May 19th, 1896, Hiyama Tetsusaburō, head of the Pacification-Reclamation Office, returned to Puli accompanied by Kondō. Henceforth, Kondō resided in Puli. At first, Kondō ran errands and did jobs for the army and military police guard units. Thereupon, he endeavored to learn an Aborigine language. For this purpose, he wed Iwan Robao, the daughter of a Paalan village headman. Because he could understand the Aborigine tongue after a few months, Kondō received a permit to engage in the "Aborigine Trade." At the time, Kondō was nearly unique in being a Japanese who understood an Aborigine language.
Shortly thereafter, in December , Kondō met the fourteen-man troupe under Captain Fukahori's command. The government had ordered them to conduct a field survey across the Central Mountains for a Taiwan circuit railway. Kondō volunteered to be a translator, and joined the unit, which departed from Puli on December 24th. About two and a half miles outside of Puli, Captain Fukahori gave his men a short rest and rallied them with the following words:
At the outset, I must tell you that we are traversing mountains in uncharted territory among Aborigines whom we cannot trust; this will be very dangerous. Therefore, we fifteen men must band together and think of ourselves as one body, dedicating our lives to our sovereign and to the nation. If any of us should survive to cross the mountains and reach Hualian Harbor, promise me right here that you will, without fail, enshrine those who fell to protect the sovereign and the nation. Please, in accordance with this hope, stake your lives on the completion of this mission.
The entire unit listened to this speech in tears. Fukahori's exhortation lifted their spirits. The men promised each other they would not return to Puli without succeeding in their mission. Then they departed. Kondō was unable to forget Captain Fukahori's words for the rest of his life. Being merely mortal, Kondō could not know, at that time, that [the Fukahori mission] would significantly alter his subsequent fate.
[The following summarizes the mission's first days]:
24th, evening: stayed in Paalan village.
25th: patrolled the village during the day; at night, Kondō succumbed to malaria, became feverish, and his temperature reached 40 degrees [C.]
26th: in place of Kondō, the jukuban named Li A'long is taken on as translator. The troupe set out for Wanda village on the nearest transverse path. However, the road was discovered to be unconnected to the village, and therefore impossible [to use].
27th: the party returned to Palan.
That evening Captain Fukahori fretted over Kondō's illness. To care for him, Fukahori himself changed Kondō's water [bottle] to cool him off. The next day, on the 28th, they left Palan. Since Kondō was suddenly unable to join the mission, he sent his wife Iwan Robao in his place as an additional translator, to work with Li A'long. Due to his high fever, Kondō was on the verge of unconsciousness, somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness. On wobbly legs, he staggered outside to send the party off on their trek into uncivilized lands. The prospect of being alone in the Aborigine country saddened Kondō and brought forth tears. In fact, this would be the last time Kondō would see these men alive. Had Kondō not been ill, his life would also have been sacrificed to the Aborigine territory.
As the expedition went from village to village, the locals repeatedly sent them off saying, "we hope the men heading for Hualian Harbor under Japanese government orders will arrive without incident." On the 29th, they arrived in a Toda country, stayed there until the next day, and left on the 30th. It was later learned that the expedition reached Truku country soon after. At this point, however, the translators Li A'long and Iwan Robao snuck away and returned home for fear of entering unknown territory. Suddenly, [Fukahori's men] were completely cut-off, their whereabouts unknown.
[Links for the remaining installments are in a box on the left sidebar.]