Thursday, January 22, 2009

SERIAL 21: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Kondo 's family is abandoned by the government! Enjoy the latest installment of Dr. Paul Barclay's translation of Kondo Katsusaburo's experiences up to and during the 1930 Wushe revolt, which were serialized in the local Taiwan Japanese-language papers in the early 1930s. Kondo married into an aboriginal family and traveled extensively in aboriginal territory. (For introduction to Kondo and his era, see Installments 1 & 2. Links to other installments are on the bottom of the left-hand sidebar). Dr. Barclay is the general editor of the wonderful Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection which I urge everyone interested in Taiwan to visit.

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Chapter Twenty-eight: The Government-General Abandons Kondō’s Extended Family
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō February 10, 1931)

The following day, December 25th, 1916, Gisaburō left Tewasu at his friend's house in Hualien Harbor and reappeared once more at Yuli. That evening he attended a New Year's eve party at the police station and then utterly disappeared. His older brother was shocked to receive a telegram in Puli. He went to Hualien Harbor immediately. For over a month, based on the sketchy information provided by Tewasu, Kondō searched for his younger brother. Nevertheless, there was still no clue of Gisaburō's whereabouts! That year, Gisaburō was only 31 years old! Gisaburō left a very short will and testament to then Hualien Harbor Police Section head Mr. Uno, who had always been a supporter and patron. It said, "Since the administration has treated me with such callousness, I henceforth refuse to accept the favors of Japan's occupation [government]."

As luck would have it, Kondō [Katsusaburō] heard of an inhabited house in Taidong prefecture, down the mountain from Yuli after entering Xin'gang. He went there. There was talk that someone in a Japanese kimono, who used string in lieu of a sash, lived there. The sash had presumably been lost after it broke, having been used as a rope to lower someone down the mountain. This sort of sounded like Gisaburō, but then again it did not seem like him. In any event, Kondō followed the trail through the mountains to Xin'gang, but nothing like a human being ever appeared. The subject of this rumor had disappeared somewhere along the road. After that, Kondō, leading Tewasu, could do nothing but make a tearful return to Puli. Gisaburō was due a pension. Tewasu, however, as a banpu, was ineligible to receive money, because she was not entered into Gisaburō's household register (koseki). The least Kondō could do was give Tewasu Gisaburō's pension certificate, his accumulated government-administered savings with 200-yen added, and all of Gisaburō's clothing. He then sent Tewasu back to Puli to live with her older brother. It goes without saying that Mona Ludao grieved upon hearing this story.

Therefore, we can say what we will about liaisons with Aborigine women in connection to last year's tumult [the Wushe Uprising,] but Mona Ludao's resentment against Japan was not [due to this problem]. Kondō insisted:

It is absolutely baseless to say that my brother was involved in the current troubles. Since I do not have any children, I have adopted many Aborigine girls during my residence in Puli. Therefore I have quite a large family in Wushe. It has been a whole fifteen years since my brother disappeared from sight. If he were hiding in Wushe, I certainly would have heard about it [by now]!

Kondō lamented the fact that his brother, who had so tragically disappeared, continued to have his name dragged through the mud, even after the fact. Even without [the rumors], Kondō wistfully recalled that Gisaburō would not have met such an end had he himself not been connected to the Aborigine territory. Now the older brother was alone in the world. Soon after [Gisaburō's disappearance], Kondō's fate began to turn for the worse as well. In the beginning, since Kondō had an agreement with the Wushe tribes, he was able to build a house and live [amongst them] without any problems. No matter how long he waited, however, there was no official confirmation on the status of his land. Those [officials] of whom he could make requests had already transferred. Kondō worried that he would become a forgotten man in these parts. To avoid potential problems, Kondō retreated with his second wife, the younger sister of Hōgō headman Aui Nukan, back to Puli. The Aborigines looked askance at Kondō's move and continually asked for an explanation. Yet Kondō was never able to tell them a thing.

Returning to the problem of recognizing the Aborigines for assistance in constructing the Tatsutaka guardline [from January through February, 1909], the Aborigines would have been satisfied with even one small cup of saké each. However, no such commendation was forthcoming. So, the child-like Aborigines, with no sense of shame, pressed Kondō three, then four times for this acknowledgement. Kondō went to the prefect and the section chief to nervously put in the request. As personnel changed over the years, their faces began to show a sour expression, and Kondō's position gradually became difficult. The Aborigines, especially Mona Ludao, could not imagine [Kondō's predicament]. Mona was a man who would not accept anything until he could understand the reason. He vociferously argued [the Aborigines' cause]. Thus, he harshly assailed Kondō to the point where it became unbearable for Kondō to even enter the village.

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