4. The emperor’s decree on a neglected monument

The Relics of Modern Japan's First Foreign War in Colonial and Postcolonial Taiwan, 1874-2015

4. The emperor’s decree on a neglected monument

Source: Taiwan shashinchō 2, no. 2 (1916), in East Asia Image Collection, Lafayette College, available at http://digital.lafayette.edu/collections/eastasia/cpw-shashinkai/ts0463, accessed on December 18, 2015.

This 1916 issue of Taiwan Photographic Monthly 台湾写真帖 reveals the poor state of repair and near-abandonment of the tomb in the early Taishō period. In 1900, five years into Japanese colonial rule, the government’s Hengchun branch office (benmusho) made a “one-time special” 3-yen contribution to the biannual ceremonies held in commemoration of the fallen Ryūkyūans.[1] Other sources suggest a more sustained program of support, though they are vague. At the time this photograph was published, the government stipend for the upkeep of the tomb had been halved, from an annual 20 yen to 10 yen, according to a recent study.[2] In any case, subsequent events (described below) suggest that the tomb had been largely neglected for the first two decades of colonial rule. On the left side, an inscription probably written by Fukushima Kunari is shown on the back of the tomb. The following is the curator’s translation:[3]

In November 1871 [old calendar] our Ryūkyū subjects were shipwrecked in a typhoon; they washed ashore on the savage borderland; they mistakenly entered the lair of Mudan bandits; fifty-four of them were massacred; in 1872 the report of the king of Ryūkyū domain was heard.

The Emperor thundered a decree to [his subject Saigō] Jūdō to punish the crime; he set out in advance in April [1874], the rest of the Army followed; they were welcomed with open arms by the Savages; only the bandits such as the Mudans and Kusukuts did not; in the attack on the bandits at Stone Gate in May, the great chief [Aruqu] and his son, and thirty-four men under them, were killed. Our Army took three roads and advanced on the bandit’s lair; in September Mudan and Kusukut and others came to our encampment to atone for their crimes; as for the victims of the shipwreck, the Guangdong… [unclear]… Liu [Deng] Tianbao, sympathizing with the slaughtered, buried the corpses; soon after there was a ceremony at Shuangxikou; afterwards the remains were transferred to Tonglunpu [Tongpu]; here the burial mound was built, and the memorial stone erected. November 1874, Japanese Imperial Army lieutenant Saigō Jūdō [Tsugumichi].


[1] “Tōryōho [Tongpu] ni okeru Ryūkyūjin funbo,” Taiwan kyōkai kaihō 16 (1900): 74–75.

[2] Miyaguni, Taiwan sōnan jiken, 165.

[3] From text of tomb transcribed in Inō Kanori, Taiwan Banseishi (Taipei: Taiwan Government General Industrial Promotion Section, 1904), 601.