Monday, December 01, 2008

SERIAL 6: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Kondo leads a band of brigands, and goes off to find El Dorado! Installments 11 & 12 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 right-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.


Chapter Eleven: Kondō Leaves Puli for the Plains
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō January 20, 1931)

The stone-burying pledge, in which the Wushe tribe promised to stop hunting heads for a period of three years, was effected in [May of] 1899. Since the coming May constituted the third May since the pledge, the Wushe men said they would begin head-hunting in the middle of the month; they urged Kondō to pick up his trading post and go back. No matter how many times it was argued that the agreement was for a full three-year cessation [according to Japanese time-reckoning], they did not understand. Nonetheless, as a courtesy, they divulged the signal that companions used to prevent head-hunting attacks [from fellow tribesmen]. During the day, they cut a tree-branch over a yard in length, walking with the stick in an upright position. At night, one exclaimed, "shoo!" upon encountering another. Then, in the middle of August, head-hunting really did commence. The Plains Aborigines of Shouchengfenzhu were afraid to go outside. One day, thinking it would be safe [to venture out] if accompanied by the Aborigine woman Abai Kura, who hailed from Wushe, these Plains Aborigines were beheaded when they went out to draw water. Therefore, the people in Puli became very skittish.   

Kondō was left with no choice but to once again close his trading post. Now that there would be no [reconnoitering for a] road to traverse the mountains, there was nothing Kondō could hope to accomplish in Puli, at least for awhile, until things calmed down. [Kondō thought,] "what am I doing in Puli?" He was only twenty-seven years old. The longer Kondō dwelt in proximity to the Taiwan Aborigines and became involved in the affairs along the "savage border," his sense of himself as a Japanese national became more extraordinarily acute. At some point during his sojourn, Kondō made up his mind that Japanese [colonists] must exert themselves to develop the new territory of Taiwan, which had been obtained at such cost. He did not feel like remaining calmly and quietly in Puli. First off, Kondō fixed upon the idea of opening a road from Puli to Taizhong [City]. He proposed the Nan'gang River Road to Taizhong Governor Kinoshita, who accepted the idea. Kondō accompanied the civil engineer Mr. Shibahara as a guide until September of that same year [1901]. Within a year's time, the road was completed.

After that, Kondō concerned himself with the gold dust located in Toroko. He did not think the profits should go to a mere Quanzhou man like Li A'long, but to a Japanese national. To bring this about, thought Kondō, I must go in there as a Quanzhou native and find the goldmine. And so he dreamt of [learning] Quanzhou dialect and penetrating innermost Toroko. One day Kondō happened to talk to Taizhong Governor Kinoshita. [Kondō found out that] at the time, the Taizhong City ward boundaries were being revised, and that stone was being supplied from Quanzhou. Soon after, through the Governor's good offices, Kondō received a commission from Tamada Gankichi, president of the Zhonghua Japan-Taiwan Lumber Consortium. This company had the stonework contract [for the city-ward redistricting]. So, Kondō would be able to go to the mainland, to Quanzhou prefecture, as a supervisor of stonework. "When one has good fortune, everything seems to go smoothly."

On September 10, 1901, Kondō triumphantly arrived in the place he had been dreaming of, Quanzhou City. There, Kondō was absorbed by language study and supervising the stoneworks. He stayed in the home of a man named Li Shunshi. Kondō returned to Taizhong in October 1902, ending his stay in Quanzhou. His landlord, Li Shunshi, was a doctor, so Kondō not only learned how to pass himself off as a Quanzhou man, but learned Chinese medicine as well. To this day, Kondō can make medicines by boiling the livers of otters or leopards.

Kondō welcomed the new year in Taizhong; it was 1903. That year, construction on the Taizhong prison began. However, the Japan-Taiwan Lumber Consortium could not harvest the 200,000 units of lumber called for in its contract because "brigands" barricaded themselves at the source of the timber. Kondō, for the time being, quickly transformed himself into a Quanzhou native, and joined the brigands. Entering into their society, he took on the role as mediator and labor broker, and successfully carried out the harvest of timber without trouble. Kondō quickly earned the respect of the brigands, and became their leader; there are many interesting stories we could tell about this period. However, the main concern of our tale is Wushe, and so we must skip these other episodes.

Chapter Twelve: Kondō and the Guardline--Japan’s New “Positive Policy”
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō January 21, 1931)

Starting with 15 June 1903, the Government General's Aborigine policy changed completely, from conciliation to conquest. Thus, guard-lines were rapidly constructed in various places. In Wushe, a short line was first built from Puli to Niukenshan that year. The following year, the time had come to stretch a line through Wushe's stronghold, namely, a guardline originating in Niukenshan, continuing past Shouchengdashan and Hiyama, and finally winding through Meixi to terminate at Kirigaseki. Due to the new policy of conquest and guard-line construction, Aborigine country was thrown into confusion. Now Kondō could harbor only one hope regarding this situation: that in the case of Wushe at least, not one drop of blood would be shed, right up until the completion of the guardline. Therefore, as the line was about to commence construction, Kondō negotiated with the Aborigines of Wushe. He concocted the pretext that Japan needed to build a road to transport cypress logs down from Hiyama Mountain, in order to allay any suspicions. Consent was thus obtained and the line extended without difficulty.

From July, 1905, the second guardline was built starting in Kirigaseki, through the mountain where the stone-burying pledge had been sworn, and onward to Palan village. This guardline came closest to a [Wushe] population center. Since this line would cause severe problems, Kondō racked his brains. As luck would have it, Kondō had been wounded by the Wanda Aborigines, providing him with a good pretext [to enlist allies]. Kondō then parleyed with Wushe, explaining to them that he would be exacting revenge. The Wushe men consented without incident. Thereupon, Kondō positioned six cannons near Wanda village from July through August. The line was also extended during this period. On 25 August 1905, Kondō started to fire salvos towards Wanda village to display the power of the ordinance. At that time, Wanda was still extremely savage; they did not comply with official directives and were defiant in demeanor. So, this was a good opportunity to cow them. At the first shot, the Aborigines were flabbergasted. The [roar of] the cannons! Big demon! Horrible monster! They fled in chaos, looking for places to hide with only the ground to conceal them. By early morning of the 28th, the chief emerged to apologize. He pledged never to rebel against Japan thereafter. Wanda also promised to refrain from head-hunting through a stone-burying pledge. Finally, calm was restored in Wanda.

When this guardline was built, Kondō pledged [to assist] Ōtsu Rinpei in Puli. As emissary for the head of the punitive expedition, Ōtsu had come to reconnoiter the area. He heard about Kondō and requested a meeting. On January 28th [1906,], Kondō conveyed to Ōtsu his knowledge of conditions in Aborigine country based on his ten years of experience. It was a long discussion, lasting from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. the next day. Ōtsu listened to Kondō intently, with the feeling that Kondō was already a friend. Ōtsu expressed himself quite openly. At the end of the discussion, Ōtsu asked, "How can the Aborigines be instructed and given guidance?" Kondō immediately responded, "The first step would be to take them sightseeing." Thus, the meeting ended.

As Kondō became more intimate with the Aborigines, he could not help but feel pity for their lack of guile. They frequently asked, "Compared to our village, how many more times larger is the village of Japan?" Kondō was always at a loss for words when this question arose. They irritated Kondō because they did not seem to comprehend, even when he did try to explain.

The Aborigines did not follow government directives; conditions in the Aborigine country were completely fluid. Incidents would occur because the Aborigines were ignorant. Masters of the exalted mountain! Lords who dwell thousands of feet in the air, to whom civilization is unknown! Kondō wondered if they could be saved, these people who were in turn furious beasts or sensitive, kind human beings. This concern had made Kondō anxious for some ten years.

"We must show them the wider world!" "They must be taught what kind of thing Japan really is!" However, Kondō knew he could not accomplish this task alone. He explained all of this at the end of his meeting with Ōtsu Rinpei. Kondō reportedly felt that years of pent-up anxiety had been lifted off of his chest.

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