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Taiwan Governor General 14th Anniversary Commemorative Postcard with Prince Kanin Kotohito Meeting Taiwan Aborigines

Uploader: NIKKOPublication: 2016-08-10
Basic Information Category: Stamps & Postcards Subcategory: Postcards (Cancelled) Year: 1909 CE Century: 20 CE Country of Origin: Japan Issuer: 臺灣總督府
SpecificationLength: 14 cm Width: 9 cm
This Taiwan Governor General 14th Anniversary Commemorative Postcard has a one and half sen (一銭五厘) chrysanthemum stamp postmarked on June 17th, 1909 with a Taiwan Governor General Commemorative Cancel (General Branch Post Office). The postcard was mailed by Uehara Risaku (上原理作), a communication secretary at Taipei Postal Office, to Uekusa Kyouji (植草恭治) of the Communications Officials Training School (逓信官吏練習所) near Shiba Park in Tokyo.

At the time, the “Aborigines Management Plans (理蕃計畫)” had just begun, and this postcard was the propaganda for demonstrating the success of the plans. The picture on the postcard is Prince Kanin Kotohito (閑院宮載仁親王) meeting representatives of Taiwan aborigines at the residence of Taiwan Governor General (Japanese title: 臺湾総督官邸に於ける閑院宮殿下). However, it is clear that the Japanese wanted to show the superiority between the ruler and those to be ruled. All the Japanese in the picture were standing on the higher level, while all the aboriginal representatives were either squatting or standing at the lower level.

Prince Kanin Kotohito (November 10th, 1865 ~ May 21st, 1945), sitting at the table in army uniform, was the sixth head of a cadet branch of the Japanese imperial family and also the adopted younger brother of the Meiji Emperor. He was a career army officer who served in both the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). He was also the Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff during the 2nd World War. Despite his hardline militarist point of view, Prince Kanin Kotohito did not live to see the surrender of Japan as he died a couple months early at the age of 79 in his residence near Odawara.

The man sitting beside the Prince is Sakuma Samata (佐久間左馬太, November 19th, 1844 ~ Augest 5th 1915), who was the 5th Governor-General of Taiwan at the time. Also known as the “iron blood general,” Sakuma Samata oversaw the“Aborigines Management Plans” and tried to eliminate any objection toward the Japanese reign from Taiwanese aboriginal tribes via direct military actions and intimidations. However, like the image on the postcard, the obedient was only superficial. There were still tensions between the Taiwanese indigenous people and the foreign ruling government.

The real cause of Sakuma Samata’s death also remains a mystery. In 1914, Sakuma acted as the commander and led an armed force of 10,000 soldiers trying to conquer the Truku people in the Taruko region (太魯閣). Clashed with strong resistance from the 2,000 Truku men, the battle also marked the largest armed inland conflict since 20th century in Taiwan. However, Sakuma allegedly stepped on a loose rock and fell into a valley of 20 meters. After the incident, the wounded Sakuma was delivered from Puli to Taipei, and then sent back to Japan. He died a year after the incident, at age of 71. As the commander, it is already impressive for the aged Sakuma to lead the army personally at the frontline. It is, however, very absurd that a commander would even come close to a loose rock at the edge of a valley during the war. Archived Japanese documents did not provide further details on this incident. A possible explanation could be that the outnumbered Truku people ambushed the Japanese camp and successfully wounded the commander of the Japanese Imperial Army. If this was true, then it could be one of the greatest victories in the Taiwanese aboriginal battle history. It could also be the reason that Japanese official records only mentioned this incident lightly. Unfortunately, history is always written by the eventual victors, but the incident did leave some rooms for imaginations. Nevertheless, the toughness of Taiwanese aboriginal people already left a strong impression to the Japanese. During the 2nd World War, many Taiwanese aboriginal men were recruited and formed the formidable “Takasago Volunteers”, who fought bravely on the South-East Asian islands for the Empire of the Rising Sun.

In fact, the Japanese government pretty much took the blame for the later ruling Chinese government. After WWII, the Republic of China government took over Taiwan, and basically adopted the same aboriginal ruling principles maintained by the Japanese government previously. If the Japanese did not conquer the aborigines by force and eliminated most of the resistance forces, the Republic of China government almost certain would have faced the same resistance and resolved it through military actions like they did to the Taiwanese civilians. The Republic of China government, while condemning the Japanese for killing Taiwanese aboriginal people, ironically is also the direct beneficiary of those killings.
Ownership InformationAcquisition Date: 2015-06-26
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