Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) yesterday attended the unveiling of a repaired statue of Japanese engineer Yoichi Hatta that was decapitated last month, saying Japan-Taiwan relations are now stronger.
Lai apologized to the Hatta family for the city’s failure to protect the statue and called the decapitation a test that revealed true feelings in both nations.
Members of Hatta’s family, who were also in attendance, thanked the city for its quick repair of the statue and said that Japan-Taiwan ties would not be affected.
Photo: Wang Han-ping, Taipei Times
The statue, located near Tainan’s Wushantou Reservoir (烏山頭水庫), honors Hatta, who is known as the “father of the Chianan Irrigation System” for his contributions to the development of irrigation during the Japanese colonial era.
The statue’s head was removed on April 15, allegedly by former Taipei city councilor Lee Cheng-lung (李承龍), who later told prosecutors he did not agree with the historical status afforded to Hatta.
The Chia-Nan Irrigation Association and the Chi Mei Museum cooperated to repair the statue, opting to use an identical replacement head when the original could not be found.
A commemorative ceremony for Hatta is to be held this afternoon, and is to be attended by his eldest grandson, Shuichi Hatta, and other family members, Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Director-General Kinzo Nakagun, Kanazawa City Mayor Yukiyoshi Yamano and Kaga City Deputy Mayor Atsushi Kawai.
Association president Yang Ming-feng (楊明風) said the repaired statue would be well-protected and well-monitored with improved lighting and cameras.
“The water shortages we face these days really highlight the importance of Yoichi Hatta’s contributions to irrigation and the Wushantou Reservoir,” Yang said.
Meanwhile, city officials have expressed concern that statues of other historical Japanese figures might come under attack, such as that of Japanese colonial-era Tainan mayor Matao Hatori.
Hatori defied protests from fellow Japanese to reinstate Confucian rituals and repair Chihkan Tower (赤崁樓, formerly Fort Provintia), where a commemorative statue of him was later installed.
The city government requested police to step up patrols at all statue sites, saying that statues of some historical Taiwanese figures, such as Japanese colonial-era lawyer and 228 Incident hero Tang De-Jhang (湯德章) and Republic of China founder Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), might also become targets.
Police said they cannot enter historic sites at will, but have been in touch with Chihkan Tower security guards, advising them to be on the lookout for suspicious people.
One tour guide said statues of historical Japanese figures such as Hatta, Hatori and Goto Shinpei, who served as head of Taiwanese civilian affairs under Japanese rule, are popular among Japanese tourists.
Hatori is particularly notable for his protection of Taiwanese culture and artifacts such as Confucian rituals and the bell at Kaiyuan Temple in Tainan’s North District (北區), the guide said.
Additional reporting by Wang Chieh
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