Thursday, March 05, 2015

Way Cool: Last Japanese Soldier Hideout in WWII was Amis

House in Laochijia.

This is very cool -- had to share it with you. From Wiki:
Private Teruo Nakamura (中村 輝夫 Nakamura Teruo?, October 8, 1919 − June 15, 1979) was a Taiwan-born soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army from the indigenous Amis tribe, who fought for Japan in World War II and did not surrender until 1974. He is the last known Japanese hold-out to surrender after the end of hostilities in 1945. His name in his native Amis language was Attun Palalin.[1] The Taiwanese press referred to him as Lee Guang-Hui (李光輝), a name of which he learned only after his repatriation in 1975.


Nakamura's repatriation and his perception in the Japanese public at the time differed considerably from that of earlier holdouts, such as Hiroo Onoda, who had been discovered only a few months earlier. One reason for this was the question of his nationality. Born on Taiwan, Nakamura was ethnically Amis and legally stateless; questions of nationality were of considerable importance in the Japanese public at the time, and while the Japanese embassy in Jakarta offered to repatriate him, there were also diplomatic questions over how to treat him in case he wanted to go back to Taiwan.[2] At the time of his capture, he spoke neither Japanese nor Chinese. Secondly, while Onoda had been an officer, Nakamura's rank as a private from a Japanese colony did not excite the public imagination and was likely to raise questions about the role of Japanese colonialism during the war instead. Another sensitive issue was the question of back pay of his soldier's pension. As a private of a colonial unit, Nakamura was not entitled to pensions after a 1953 change in the law on pensions, and thus received only a minimal sum of ¥68,000 (US $227.59 at the time, now US $1,100 in 2015).[1] This raised a considerable outcry in the press, motivating the government to donate over $100,000, similar to what had been offered to Onoda, which in turn generated questions by earlier Taiwanese holdouts and led to considerable public discussion of the differences in treatment of Japanese and Taiwanese holdouts by the government.

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Brian Castle said...

I'm always amazed at the reluctance of government to do the nice thing in cases where doing so won't encourage copy-cats and the number of cases is obviously going to be very low. Japan could have offered a very generous payment to soldiers discovered (with sufficient proof) to have been hold-outs - basing the payments on the number of years held out, and giving all such soldiers similar pay regardless of place of birth.

It wouldn't have caused more soldiers to hold-out, and the small number of hold-outs would have meant that the payments would not have affected the Japanese budget.

So why not just give them some decent compensation to show how Japan rewards loyalty?

Other cases, like wrongly convicted prisoners who are released without significant compensation, come to mind.

Jerome Besson said...

Private Nakamura fought as an Imperial Japanese subject. Some might want to add and underscore "colonial" subject. But Nakamura's status changed on April 1, 1945 when he came under the protection of a constitution that defined his duties and rights as a full-fledged Imperial subject. One should not be allowed to overlook that ruling of a free and sovereign nation, all be it of one under siege and about to surrender four months later.

Nakamura's 1975 homecoming did not return him a national of the Chinese Nationalist occupier exiled on Taiwan. Neither was he a national of sovereign post-SFPT Japan, a new entity born in 1947, out of the wastes of a modern day Carthage.

When Nakamura returns to Taiwan he remains an Imperial subject under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. As an Imperial subject on an Imperial territory that remains occupied, he must abide the occupier's administrative control. But occupation is a fact of war. That does not divest him of his original nationality of allegiance.

Nakamura reminds us that the Empire lives on under a shroud of ambiguity. Mindful of the fact, I assume all on Taiwan who can trace their identity back to an Imperial Japanese family registry to be Imperial Japanese subjects (IJS) born on allied forces occupied Imperial Japan.

The principal occupier's diplomatic ploy, his proxy's brainwashing of all involved in maintaining the status-quo (occupier's control) on the ground, our China experts, our media, even the erring TI-huggers in Japan, all and every one of them participate in the perpetuation of a white lie that is not morally justifiable any longer.

Unless Taiwan-born Imperial Japanese come to terms with that long-obfuscated truth, they won't be able to define themselves correctly. This, in turn, will keep boxing them into the murky purgatory they find themselves in.

Knowing the enemy falls short. The long road to an internationaly recognized legal identity starts from a basic constatation. The majority of the residents of Taiwan are Imperial Japanese Subjects stranded on an Imperial Japanese territory subjected to an already 70 year-long foreign occupation.

When survival became parlous, the Queen of Anatahan had the good sense to signal her presence to the outside world. How much longer "Last Japanese Holdouts of Taiwan" will remain on the marquee hinges on the cast's self-awareness and resolve to reveal their current status on their obscured hide-out.

Jerome Besson said...

While penning my previous comment to Michael Tuton's "Way Cool: Last Japanese Soldier Hideout in WWII was Amis", a corner of my brain kept working on the headline. I would like to offer an alternative. Way Cool: Last IJAF hold-out's ultimate WWII hide-out.

The old Formosa-born Imperial Japanese soldier who never died. Japan's Ira Hayes, Amis native Japanese and IJAF Private Teruo Nakamura just faded out in the clouds of WWII still shrouding his corner of the western Pacific. . .

Carlos said...

This guy's definitely one of your weirder commenters, Michael.

Anonymous said...

What is so fascinating about this case, is that it really highlights the dissonance between the experience of the people, and the experience of the state, and why this has led to the formation of a strong Taiwanese identity.

When History books are taught from the perspective of the minority who fought against the Japanese as "our" history, while the actual experience of fighting for the Japanese is concealed, it gives rise to an overall sense of cynicism.

Moreover, the focus that led to Nakamura's identification with Japan has often been left unaddressed, or discounted by the ROC/KMT state apparatus as merely the result of "slavery" or the result of a weak minded Taiwanese people who failed to stand their ground in defense of their race-- explained away as the result of a defective society in need of the discipline, order and intellect provided by the ROC and its KMT.

We see this played out every year as KMT aligned aboriginal representatives will petition Japan on behalf of the of the Takasago Volunteers, i.e. the indigenous Taiwanese who died in combat fighting for Japan and are currently interred (in spirit) in the Yasukuni Shrine.

At the times of their deaths, many of those interred felt honored to fight and die for the emperor of Japan and wished for the Yasukuni Shrine to be their final resting place. It was a wish born from both the social realities of Taiwan's existence as a Japanese colony, but it also appealed to a deeper indigenous tradition in Taiwanese indigenous life (and in essence was an extension of traditional custom), to earn valor and elevated social status on the battlefield. Throughout Taiwan's recorded history there are incidents where indigenous people sided with one power or another. Often these alliances are portrayed through a political lens as opposed to the sociological lens as the continuity of a meaningful tradition.

These omissions and loaded politicized narratives projected anachronously upon Taiwan's indigenous people and Taiwanese society in general, leave the question of Taiwan's postcoloniality still unresolved and open for further debate.