A statue of Japanese engineer Yoichi Hatta near Tainan’s Wushantou Reservoir (烏山頭水庫) was found decapitated in an apparent act of vandalism, the Taiwan Chia-Nan Irrigation Association said yesterday.
Hatta is dubbed the “father of the Chianan Irrigation System” for his contributions to the development of irrigation in the Chianan Plain (嘉南平原) in southern Taiwan by building the Wushantou Reservoir during the Japanese colonial era.
An association member exercising in the area at about 6am saw that the statue’s head was missing, association president Yang Ming-feng (楊明風) said, adding that he told workers at the reservoir to call the police.
Photo: Wang Han-ping, Taipei Times
Police arriving at the scene surveyed the damage and collected information.
“The culprits of this violent act against Hatta’s memory should be strongly condemned,” Yang said.
The Tainan City Government issued a statement condemning the decapitation, saying that Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) has instructed the city’s police department to form a task force to find the culprits.
Photo: Tsai Wen-chu, Taipei Times
A civil engineering graduate from then-Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo), Hatta arrived in Taiwan in 1909 to serve at the civil engineering bureau, controlled by the Taiwan governor-general’s office.
In 1919, Hatta was tasked with designing an irrigation network for the Chianan Plain.
Following about 10 years of construction, Hatta’s team completed the reservoir in May 1930.
The reservoir has a capacity of 150 million cubic meters and can irrigate 100,000 hectares of farmland through a network of canals with a total length of 16,000km running through Chiayi and Tainan.
Hatta was killed in 1942, onboard a Japanese ship that was sunk in a submarine attack during World War II. He was on his way to Manila, where the Japanese government had sent him to develop agriculture in the Philippines.
His body was found, and after cremation, a portion of his ashes was taken to Taiwan for burial in a gravesite at the reservoir.
Following Hatta’s death, his wife, Toyoki Yonemura, remained in Taiwan. Heartbroken over the sudden and tragic loss of her husband, she committed suicide on Sept. 1, 1945, by jumping into the reservoir her husband had built.
The statue of Hatta was commissioned by the engineer’s aides and created by Japanese sculptor Yuma Tsukada of Kanazawa; it was shipped to Taiwan in 1931. However, local residents hid the statue for 40 years from 1941, fearing the Japanese government and later the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government would want to melt down the statue for war materials and for political reasons.
Only when the political climate began to change in 1981 did the residents uncover the statue. It was reinstalled at the reservoir park.
On the anniversary of Hatta’s death on May 8 each year, the Chia-Nan Irrigation Association holds a memorial to honor his contribution in turning the Chianan Plain into Taiwan’s rice bowl.
Lai has asked the irrigation association to enlist professional help to repair the statue ahead of the event, the city government said.
Replacing the statue’s head should not be a problem, as the irrigation association had made a mold of the statue as a precaution, sources said.
News of the statue’s decapitation led to an outcry and speculation among local residents, with some accusing supporters of unification with China or people with anti-Japanese sentiments.
Some residents said Hatta’s legacy is apolitical and should not be used to incite hatred.
Former commissioner of then-Tainan county Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) in a Facebook post called the decapitation “a deliberate act” adding that he believes the culprits targeted the statute to sabotage next month’s memorial service.
He said that people who vandalized the statues of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in “vigilante-like actions” have incited populist hatred and partisan acrimony in Taiwan, adding that all such actions should be condemned.
AGGRESSION: China’s latest intrusions set a new benchmark for its ‘gray zone’ tactics and possibly a new pattern that it would attempt to normalize, a researcher said China’s latest military exercises represent a new challenge to Taiwan’s legal authority to demarcate its borders in the Taiwan Strait, a defense expert said, adding that the fleets in the latest exercises were likely the most powerful the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ever assembled. The PLA conducted military exercises from Sunday last week to 6am on Friday, which encompassed large swathes of the western Pacific, including the Taiwan Strait and waters off the Philippines and Guam, National Policy Foundation associate research fellow Chieh Chung (揭仲) said on Friday. The Ministry of National Defense said that it detected 70 warship and 162 aircraft
DOMESTIC MARKET: To protect the livelihoods of local egg farmers, the government adopted a new method for releasing imported eggs, the agriculture minister said More than 54 million imported eggs will be disposed, as their expiration date has passed, Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday. Chen made the remarks at a news conference in Taipei, explaining the flow of imported eggs following recent controversies regarding the products. The ministry introduced a special egg import program to address a nationwide egg shortage earlier this year. However, controversies have risen in recent weeks. These included an accusation that the government helped some egg importing companies over others, eggs imported from Brazil that had an incorrect expiration date, and egg shipments from Brazil that were found
PACIFIC OCEAN: Defense experts have warned that the ‘Shandong,’ China’s second largest aircraft carrier, poses a serious threat to eastern Taiwan’s defenses The drills conducted by the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong in the Western Pacific last week were more aimed at showcasing China’s military capabilities to the US rather than toward Taiwan, a Taiwanese defense expert said yesterday. Lin Yin-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said the drills which involved dozens of warplanes sought to test China’s anti-access and area denial capabilities should the US and its allies attempt to interfere in a cross-strait conflict. Lin said that the latest Chinese drills coincided with a joint maritime exercise conducted by the US, South Korea
Thousands of bottles of Sriracha have been returned or destroyed after the discovery of excessive sulfur dioxide, a bleaching agent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday. About 12,600 bottles totaling 9,991.8kg of the hot sauce imported from the US by Emporium Corp (河洛企業) were flagged at the border for containing illegal levels of sulfur dioxide, the FDA said in its regular border inspection announcement. Inspectors discovered 0.5g per kilogram of the common bleaching agent and preservative, higher than the 0.03g permitted, it said. As it is the first time within six months the product has been flagged, Sriracha products from