Friday, July 27, 2012

Belated Note on Death of 邱永漢 (Kyu Eikan)

Just noticed today that 邱永漢 (Kyu Eikan) died back in May. Here's an English-language obituary. He's known for having been a novelist and a very successful investor. It mentions his involvement in the Taiwan Independence movement and his escape to Hong Kong, but doesn't mention his return to Taiwan in 1972. You'd have to read the Chinese-language Wikipedia article for details on that. The Wikipedia article discusses his "Taiwan Consciousness" (including his involvement with Thomas and Joshua Liao) and his escape to Hong Kong in 1948. It also relates his development in Japan as a writer and investor. There's also a link to a 1972 news video about Kyu's return into "the embrace of the fatherland..." (As readers of this blog--any still out there?--probably know, the aforementioned Thomas Liao had already returned to Taiwan in 1965 after living in Japan as the President-in-Exile of the Republic of Formosa. There's news video on that, too.)

Kyu had been a student of George Kerr when Kerr was teaching in Taiwan in the late 1930s. They kept in touch over the years, and Kyu mentioned Kerr (fictionalizing his name, according to Kerr, to either "Lloyd" or "White") in a short novel he wrote about 228 and its aftermath, entitled 濁水溪. (The link is to a site selling the Chinese translation of Kyu's Japanese-language novel.) Kyu was also interested in helping Kerr translate Formosa Betrayed into Japanese, but that project never panned out.

When Thomas Liao returned (surrendered?) to Taiwan in 1965, Kerr wrote to Kyu (among others) to ask what had happened and what the implications might be for the Taiwan Independence Movement. Kyu was still in Japan at the time. He wrote back to Kerr, highlighting some of the factionalism in the Japanese TIM, including the bad relations between Liao and himself. Kyu wrote that Liao "had been jealous to my fame, my little success in Japan."  He noted that "[m]any political refugees who at first participated in his [Liao's] provisional government, quarrelled with him and left him." He felt that the movement would become stronger in Liao's absence. He concluded,
I just remind 17 years ago when I took refuge in HongKong, called upon Liao and wrote the MS for the petition to the UN. At that time the paper in HK and Formosa said our thinking and intentions[?] was lunatic, but now KMT people have endorsed our movement by buying off Liao.
After reading Kyu's comments about Liao's defection, I'm curious as to why Kyu himself went back to Taiwan seven years later. Even Kerr was surprised about this turn of events.

(Quotes are from Kyu's letter to "Kerr Sensei" from June 4, 1965. The letter is found in the George H. Kerr papers in the Okinawa Prefectural Archives.)