National

Famed Japanese engineer's effects sell for $100,000 at auction to Taiwanese businessman

Kyodo

A Taiwanese businessman has won an auction for the personal effects of late Japanese civil engineer Yoichi Hatta and plans to donate them to a museum built to honor his contributions to Taiwan, a local newspaper has reported.

The Chinese-language China Times reported in its Wednesday edition that the successful bidder, whose identity was not revealed, agreed to pay over NT$3 million (about $100,000) for the items at the auction held in Taipei.

Among them are Hatta’s personal correspondence with American engineer Robert Ridgway, official documents relating to the construction of the Chianan Canal, a Japan-English map of the canal, and a painting of the canal on silk.

The report said the buyer intends to donate all the items he acquired to the Taiwan Chia-nan Irrigation Association, a government utility agency located in Tainan that manages a museum at a park commissioned in 2011 to honor Hatta’s contributions to Taiwan.

Hatta was stationed in Taiwan from 1910 to 1942, serving as a hydraulic engineer for the Japanese government when the island was a colony of the Empire of Japan.

He oversaw construction of the Chianan Canal and Wushantou Reservoir in the island’s southwestern Chianan Plain as key components in a massive irrigation system, one of many infrastructure projects Japan implemented to modernize Taiwan during its 50-year occupation that ended in 1945.

Thanks largely to Hatta, the Chianan Plain, once an arid wasteland with soil in the coastal area contaminated by high levels of salt, has become one of the most productive agricultural regions in Asia, growing a wide range of food crops, including over 60 percent of Taiwan’s rice.

Hatta was killed in an Allied submarine attack on a ship transporting him to the Philippines in 1942.

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