Mon, Jan 15, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Japanese-era safes now treasures

By Lin Liang-che and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Changhua County Cultural Affairs Bureau Director Chen Wen-pin yesterday demonstrates a Japanese colonial-era safe, part of a pair rescued from the county government’s offices, in the county yesterday. The characters read “Changhua County Rice Control System.”

Photo: Lin Liang-che, Taipei Times

The Changhua County Cultural Affairs Bureau has saved two top-heavy Japanese-era safes from being thrown out by the county government.

The safes originally stood in the Changhua County Government’s offices, bureau Director Chen Wen-pin (陳文彬) said, adding that they are huge and were of no use, so they were going to be removed and sold to a used goods business.

Fortunately, the county’s Department of General affairs notified the bureau, and after an inspection, the bureau immediately “rescued” the safes and moved them back to its offices, Chen said, adding that each weighs more than 1 tonne.

Their exteriors are completely intact and their interiors have been kept in good condition, Chen said, adding that even the cabinets’ copper keys were kept.

According to trademarks on the exterior, the safes were manufactured in Tokyo in the 1930s, Chen said.

Printed on the interior doors are also the words “Changhua County Rice Control System” (彰化郡米穀統制組合), the name of a semi-public organization established in the 1930s, Chen said.

During the Japanese colonial era, the office of the governor-general of Taiwan set up rice-control systems in different administrative regions. The systems were all led by large local rice suppliers.

The office hoped to use the organizations to gain a grasp of rice production and output, but during the war period, the organization became an institution for governmental control of rice production, sales and rationing.

The regional rice control systems were canceled after the war, Chen said, adding that their assets were absorbed by the different local governments and the Changhua County Government might have acquired the two safes in this way.

As the objects are old, symbolic of their time and well-preserved, they could be transferred to the Institute of Changhua County History as treasured pieces, Chen added.

The safes have been temporarily placed in the sixth-floor lobby of the bureau’s offices.

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