TAIPEI – The son of a Japanese man who is believed to have been killed during the military suppression of a major anti-government uprising in Taiwan in 1947, known as the 2/28 Incident, is planning to sue Taiwanese authorities for damages.
Keisho Aoyama, a 72-year-old resident of the city of Urasoe in Okinawa, will visit Taiwan on Sept. 15 and file the suit with the Taipei High Administrative Court on that day or later, it was learned Wednesday.
In 2013, Aoyama filed an application with Taiwanese authorities to recognize his father, Esaki, as the first foreign victim of the incident and demanded compensation.
His father was recognized as a victim in December 2014, but the authorities turned down the compensation demand on the grounds that the Japanese government did not pay reparations to former Taiwanese troops who fought for Japan during World War II or Taiwanese females who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during the war.
Aoyama sought a re-examination of the authorities’ rejection of the compensation petition in January. On July 22, however, he received a letter from Taiwanese Premier Mao Chi-kuo notifying him of the decision to dismiss the request.
Aoyama then made up his mind to take the matter to the Taipei court.
On Feb. 28, 1947, resistance movements spread across Taiwan against the government of Kuomintang, or the Chinese Nationalist Party, which was from mainland China, after a policeman fired a gun during a crackdown on unauthorized tobacco sales in Taipei the preceding day.
The Kuomintang government used force to suppress the protesters, and more than 20,000 people are believed to have been killed.
Following the incident, martial law was declared in 1949. It remained in place for 38 years.
In 1995, then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui officially apologized for the military crackdown. A full-fledged investigation to uncover the truth about the incident began under the government of the Democratic Progressive Party, which was launched in 2000.
At least four Japanese, all men from Okinawa, were victims in the 2/28 Incident, according to research by Seikiyo Matayoshi, visiting professor at Okinawa University. But details remain unknown.
Before the war, Esaki Aoyama was living in Taiwan as a fishing boat crew member. He arrived back in Kagoshima Prefecture, where his relatives were living, after being released from military service in Vietnam at the end of the war.
Esaki went to Taiwan in March 1947 to bring his family back to Japan but became involved in the anti-government uprising and suppression in the northern Taiwan city of Keelung. He is believed to have been killed by Kuomintang troops. He was 38 years old at the time.
Taiwanese authorities set up a fund in 1995 to recognize victims and pay compensation. So far, 862 people have been recognized as killed or missing in the incident, with compensation of up to 6 million New Taiwan dollars per person paid to relatives.
Keisho Aoyama said: “Tragedies such as the 2/28 Incident must never happen again. I want to make this case not only an issue of my own compensation but also to highlight human dignity and the importance of peace.”