Portraits of imperial Taiwanese soldiers 見證歷史的台籍日本兵

Tue, Aug 25, 2015 - Page 11

The father of Liu Min, a painter from Nantou’s Puli Township, used to be a Taiwanese soldier who served in the Japanese military in World War II. In order to present the lives of Taiwanese soldiers like him to the public, Liu has spent eight years recording the oral histories recounted by her elderly father and his comrades, as well as drawing their weather-beaten faces and painting the difficult lives they led.

Liu says her father Liu Ying-hui is 94 years old. In 1943, when he was 22, he was enlisted by the Japanese to serve at Rabaul in Papua New Guinea along with 40 others from his home town. Two years later Japan surrendered and they were taken over by the Australian military. Because their supplies were cut off, they had to survive by eating bats, lizards and beetle grubs. After eight months of hardship, they were sent back to Puli.

Liu Min was the youngest child in her family. When she was little, she often heard her father talk about his military life in Southeast Asia. His close comrades were frequent guests in their home and would often join her father in reminiscing about the past. When they sang Japanese military songs, it was as if their memories were full of the vicissitudes of life, which made her often wonder how these old men might feel about what they had been through. Eight years ago, as the Japanese army veterans were passing away one by one, she began to interview her father and his comrades and record their history. She draw their portraits and wrote down their unforgettable memories, including such themes as the eve before being sent to war, battlefields, comrades, families and the whirlpool of history.

(Liberty Times, translated by Ethan Zhan)