Sun, Feb 28, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan in Time: ‘Scheming traitors’ and ‘Japanese lackeys’

The second of a two-part series on the newspaper purge following the 228 Incident looks at a government newspaper whose tone drastically changed after its general manager, publisher and other staff were arrested

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

This March 28, 1947 editorial in the government-run Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News blames the 228 Incident on “scheming traitors with political ambition along with lackeys of the former Japanese government,” and called for the people of Taiwan to drop their Japanese way of thinking and embrace the “motherland.”

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

Taiwan in Time: Feb. 29 to Mar. 6

When the 228 Incident first broke out in 1947, the editorial in the government-owned Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News expressed sympathy for the victims and criticized the Tobacco Monopoly Bureau for going after illegal cigarette vendors, who were trying to make ends meet, instead of cigarette smugglers.

It further condemned the use of force. “Taiwan is a peaceful place,” it stated. “There was no need for Tobacco Monopoly Bureau agents to carry guns with them.”

When this editorial was published, Shin Sheng was managed by Juan Chao-jih (阮朝日), a native of Pingtung who had been in the newspaper business since 1932. Of course, the editorial had to claim that the agents had violated governor-general Chen Yi’s (陳儀) “peaceful orders” before calling for their prosecution.

But an editorial published on March 28, titled 228 Was Not a Civil Uprising, has a completely different tone.

“The conspirators were scheming traitors with political ambition along with lackeys of the former Japanese government, and the followers were local hoodlums, gangsters and students who were either forced or provoked into participation,” it stated.

It could be explained that the newspaper became more cautious with its words with martial law declared on March 4 and other private newspapers being shut down and staff members arrested.

But rewind three days and look at March 25 edition, introducing the paper’s new management, both officials who arrived from China after World War II: general manager Mao Ying-chang (毛應章), a major-general with the Taiwan Garrison Command, and editor-in-chief Chang Kao (張?), an advisory officer at the Taiwan Provincial Administration Agency.

By that time, Juan, original deputy editor-in-chief Wu Chin-lien (吳金鍊) and several other staff members had already been missing for nearly two weeks.

After one last editorial on March 2, no more appeared until March 18, the newspaper having been reduced in size due to a “severe paper shortage.”

The paper’s shift in tone was already obvious in the March 18 editorial, which blamed the incident on Japanized Taiwanese and managers of newspapers that contained “various poisonous elements.”

“Some have had their minds poisoned by the remnants of the Japanese, while others are trying to spread communism in Taiwan,” it stated.

FORTY FIVE YEARS

One would think that a government paper would remain free of the nationwide newspaper purge. The paper did remain safe as far as being one of the few that were continuously published during the incident’s aftermath, but it was a different story for its staff.

Juan’s daughter, Juan Mei-shu (阮美姝) was 18 years old when her father was arrested on March 12. She remembers her father, who was bedridden with chronic asthma, refusing to flee when the purge began.

She says that he had done nothing wrong.

The younger Juan writes in her book on her father’s disappearance that she found it odd that the newspaper continued to operate as though nothing had happened after the disappearance of its two top editors.

She then spent the next 40-odd years searching for answers to her father’s disappearance. She writes that she even received a response from Chen Yi, stating that Juan was a very important person for Taiwan’s future and the government had no reason to arrest him.

In November 1991, Juan finally proved Chen Yi wrong as she found her father’s arrest files. He was accused of being a “main conspirator the 228 rebellion, using [his] newspaper for treacherous activities and using [his] newspaper to sow discord between soldiers and civilians.”

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