CHAPTER II

THE ARRIVAL OF THE MAINLANDERS

 

 

The Formosans considered themselves of Chinese stock and were anxious, after the Japanese surrender of 1945, to become one with their Motherland once more. They held Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in high esteem as head of China and believed that the Three People's Principles of Sun Yat-sen would give them peace, prosperity and happiness. Under fifty years of Japanese rule they had acquired a good standard of living and, as the law had been strictly enforced, they had lived in comparative security provided they kept within the well-defined bounds of the law. They anticipated that with the arrival of the mainlanders there would be no reason why their economic and social conditions should not further improve. Therefore, the mainlanders were welcomed with flags and rejoicing - but not for long. The soldiers, immediately they had established their billets, began systematic robbery and rape. In Hokotu, for instance, girls were chloroformed on the streets, carried to the soldiers' billets and after the soldiers had finished with them, were shipped to the mainland. One girl, cleverer than the rest, secured the confidence of her captor who gave her sufficient freedom to enable her to escape over a wall. She fled to her father who in turn appealed to the civil police, now Chinese. They feared the military police and refused to have anything to do with the matter.

The Formosans soon found that property was not safe when soldiers were about and that they had no redress at law for any robbery committed by the military. The military police, however, themselves went for bigger game. The officials, of course, claimed Japanese property for the Government, but some of the military police were over-zealous in this respect. When a certain owner of a factory was absent from the district, the military police asked for his son who, on reporting to the police station, was immediately put into jail. The police claimed that the factory had supplied equipment and material to the Japanese and that its store of products was the property of the Japanese and hence now belonged to the Chinese Government. They also said that they would release the son on a payment of 30,000 yen and the matter would be dropped. When the owner returned three days later he inquired of the military police what wrongs his son had committed. On hearing the charge, the father denied helping the Japanese except to the extent that he was compelled to manufacture for them. He said that he would obtain a lawyer and take the case to the highest court. When the military police found that he knew the process of the law and that they might be involved in a scandal, they begged him not to bring the case into the public eye. As the mother had already paid the 30,000 yen for the release of the son, the military police returned the money and the case was considered closed.

Several instances were reported of soldiers arriving with trucks and official-looking documents claiming the stocks of industrialists as Japanese property but willing to overlook the matter for a consideration. On investigation it was found the documents did not bear the stamp of authority and the soldiers were acting on their own initiative. So bad did the situation become that the Formosans began to say, "The dogs go and the pigs come".

In general, however, the Formosans did not suffer under this kind of treatment without protest. For example, the Chinese Mayor of Takao City sold all the rice and cement taken over from the Japanese and put the money in his own pocket. The local newspapers published this to such good effect as a "squeeze" scandal that the Mayor immediately went to Shanghai and the Government issued a statement that it would form a commission to examine the case. But for all that, the efforts of the Formosans to maintain upright dealings among the officials were of no avail because after a month the Government published an announcement that the Commission found him not guilty. No one in Takao could find out anything about the Commission or what evidence they took to come to their decision, for those people in Takao who could have given evidence did not appear before the Commission. But their troubles were only beginning, for a few months later the ex-Mayor was sent back to Formosa as one of the Chiefs-of-Staff of the Chinese Army in Formosa.

In industry, where Chinese officials were put in charge, the Formosans, whom the Japanese had trained to be honest in their dealings, found themselves in very difficult positions even when they had Chinese underlings. In a certain factory a Formosan found that his Chinese subordinate had been running a very profitable racket in shipping from the factory supplies ostensibly for various customers but actually only delivering a portion of these supplies to the customers, the balance being sold on his own behalf on the black market. Before finally handing his subordinate over to the police, the Formosan made a thorough investigation, during which time various methods ranging from the offer of "squeeze" to threats of murder were adopted to persuade him to drop the matter. When his investigations were complete, having a thoroughly clear case, he called in the police only to find that he also was being arrested because he had "allowed" his subordinate to do such things. Furthermore, the culprit gave the police prosecutor 300,000 yen as a commission for putting him (the culprit) in prison. This had the result that the culprit was put in a pleasant room with a good view and almost luxurious conditions. The Formosan was put in a sort of dungeon with robbers and thieves. It was infested with bugs, lice and mosquitoes and was very dirty and dark and stank. There were thirteen persons in the room which was twelve feet square and sleeping could only be carried out on that half of the floor which was boarded. The other half was filthy stones. Pressure was put on the Formosan to drop the case but he maintained his attitude. As the value of the supplies that the Chinese culprit had appropriated was 10,000,000 yen - equivalent at that time to about 100,000 U.S. dollars or PDS STG 31,000 - he bribed freely and the Chinese officials at the Courts were solidly against the Formosan. The officials told the Formosan that he would be kept in jail without a trial for two months at the end of which the public prosecutor would ask for an adjournment on account of lack of evidence. He would then be kept in prison for another two months, after which the trial must take place. During all that time it was hoped that the public interest in the case would have disappeared and the public prosecutor would state that no evidence had been put forward and therefore the culprit would go free. This was the usual method of procedure when the "squeeze" supplied by the defendant was sufficient. However, this plan of campaign was interrupted by the rebellion and the Formosan, along with all other prisoners including the culprit, was set free by the rebels. The culprit fled to the mainland. His whereabouts were later never known. The Formosan, however, as he had never been technically freed by the police, was wondering nine months later whether he was still liable to be re-arrested.

As long as things remain as they are, it is likely that the Formosan will never be free from that danger. Opinions differ as to the exact number of police organisations working independently on the Island. Many of the Government Departments have their own police, some of which operate secretly and some openly, but all are armed. I had knowledge of four; viz., military, civil, court police and customs police, but it appears that each of these can have several sub-divisions, all working independently but having no definite line of division between the various responsibilities. All are able to arrest the ordinary citizen - and the Formosans soon found that if they wished to keep out of jail they had to keep on paying "squeeze" to several of the various kinds, because as fast as one kind of police was satisfied another kind would come and made accusations. There was, of course, no necessity for the police to prove their accusations and in the initial stages the behaviour of the police was not so heinous as after the rebellion. At times, different groups of police fell foul of one another, evidently not an uncommon occurrence for Chinese police, as much publicity was given in the Shanghai newspapers to a particularly terrible event at the Golden Gate Theatre in Shanghai where the military police shot a number of civil police in a riot caused by the two kinds of police among themselves.

Another instance of the "protection" the Formosans received from the police may be quoted. This concerned nurses in a hospital in the South where a robbery of the nurses' quarters was committed by someone obviously having inside knowledge. The police were called in and apparently found out who the criminal was but they refused to arrest him until they obtained "squeeze". As the nurses could not pay it out of their pittance of a salary, the arrest was never made and the property never recovered.

Even with the best will in the world, the Formosans found themselves in difficulties. A rice merchant was visited by an official asking him to fill in a form stating how much rice he had in stock. He correctly stated "650 bags". No instructions were given him to refrain from selling, and as all the newspapers published instructions not to hoard, he sold all his rice within a week. A policeman afterwards came and asked him to turn over his rice. When he replied that he had sold it in line with the newspaper instructions, the policeman took him away and put him in jail. However, a friend knowing a police inspector explained the case to him and asked for the release of the rice merchant. He was allowed out "on bail" but to my knowledge no trial ever took place.

The Japanese civilians, including technicians, were shipped from Formosa to Japan as quickly as possible. They were allowed to take a hundred kilograms of clothing and personal belongings and a small amount of money. The rest of their property remained on the Island and came under the control of the Japanese Property Disposal Commission. In many places it was a common sight to see mere shells of Japanese houses standing, having been stripped of all things movable and fixed, including water pipes, lavatory fixtures, water meters, windows, door knobs and everything that had a saleable value, including in many cases, flooring and ceiling. This was particularly the case when soldiers were billeted in a building. At one time there was a steady flow of this type of article to the mainland and, as permits for exports were almost impossible for Formosans to obtain at that time, it appears therefore that this was being done by the mainlanders.

Once a certain Formosan doctor, and an important citizen, rented a house from the Japanese Property Control Commission and moved in after paying his rent. Two officers of the Chinese Occupation 95th Army came and ordered him to get out, threatening him with revolvers. They demanded the house for themselves. Later they brought two girls to stay with them in the house and a brother of one of the girls asked the doctor to help him get his sister back as he said the officer had taken her to the house and raped her. When his request was made to the officer, he threatened to shoot them. The Army stayed one year during which time the girl had a baby. After the Army had gone they found that the house was completely empty and everything moveable, or that could be removed, was sold. There were no furniture, no windows, doors, light fittings, plumbing, etc. No one knew what had happened to the girl and the doctor was compelled to repair the house out of his own pocket.

Nevertheless the Formosans steadily continued to assert their legal rights and often at great risk. They said that the Japanese regime had been hard and strict, but the law was clearly defined and providing they kept within it they could go about their business in peace, security and comfort: and the Formosans found the Japanese honest in their dealings. But when the Chinese came from the mainland, a Formosan once remarked, there was no law but the Law of "Squeeze". It was the only means whereby one could be sure of remaining outside the prison, and even then was only successful as long as the means for successive "squeezes" was available. In their business dealings the Formosans found themselves subjected to all sorts of petty regulations which often were publicly ignored; but the regulations existed and an enterprising policeman could find it very lucrative to remind offenders that they were breaking these regulations. As an example of this may be quoted the fact that it was illegal to wear the Japanese style of shoe. As they were in common use and convenient it was hardly likely that these would be immediately discarded by the public. There were other trivial regulations such as that it was illegal to dance in the restaurants. This had something to do with an austerity campaign, but evils, such as those of the geisha houses, apparently flourished undisturbed. It was illegal, too, to buy or sell or play records of Japanese war songs. This childish behaviour on the part of the Chinese brought nothing but contempt from the Formosans and irritated and annoyed them very much. On the eve of the rebellion, the mainland Chinese who were escaping into hiding were taunted by powerful gramophones blaring Japanese war songs out into the neighbourhood, but no policemen came.

These, then, are instances of one kind of dastardly and contemptible treatment that the Formosans received and which was ultimately, along with other causes, to give rise to the rebellion.