TAIPEI – Family members of victims from Okinawa Prefecture who were killed in the so-called 228 Incident, a military crackdown on civilian protestors in 1947 that initiated the “White Terror Era,” have traveled to Taiwan to honor their ancestors.
Braving cold and rainy weather, Keisho Aoyama, leading the group of about 20 people in Keelung, northern Taiwan, said on Tuesday that although his family is the first foreign claimant of compensation from the Taiwanese government over the 228 Incident, there are many more out there waiting for justice.
Among the members of the group are the families of Minoru Nakatake and Kane Ishisoko.
According to government records citing accounts from the families of Nakatake and Ishisoko, the two men traveled to Keelung in March 1947 to purchase spare parts for a fishing boat when they were apprehended and killed by Nationalist Party (KMT) troops.
Among those who traveled to Taiwan to pay their respects to the Japanese victims, who are entombed in a mausoleum inside the Heping Island Park in Keelung, was Nakatake’s eldest daughter Hatsuko Tokuda.
Tokuda began the ceremony with a song she sang in Yonaguni, a dialect she said she spoke with her grandmother who taught her the song when she was little.
“She said when my father returned home, I could sing the song to him,” Tokuda said.
He never returned.
Nakatake’s family believed that he was killed in Taiwan at the age of 29. Tokuda was only 10 at the time and her younger sister, Yoko Tamoto, who is also traveling with the group, was too young to remember.
With Aoyama’s encouragement, the families of Nakatake and Ishisoko have applied to the 228 Memorial Foundation for reparations. Their cases are pending.
Seikiyo Matayoshi, a professor at Okinawa University, said he first learned there were Okinawan victims in the 1947 massacre about 30 years ago.
He first became aware of Aoyama’s case, then Nakatake and then Ishisoko, he said.
As a professor specializing in Taiwan-Okinawa relations, Matayoshi said he felt duty-bound to help victims’ families uncover truth behind the military crackdown, see the perpetrators held responsible and receive an official apology and compensation from the Taiwanese government so that they can find peace.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.