TAIPEI (Taiwn News)—The statue of highly respected Japanese engineer Yoichi Hatta (八田與一), who is hailed in Taiwan as the "father of Wushanto Water Reserve," (烏山頭水庫) was found severely vandalized on Sunday.
Initial police investigations indicate the head of Hatta's statue, which overlooks the water reserve in Tainan City in southern Taiwan, was found cut off with a sharp object before 6:00 AM this morning, after an irrigation association member reported the honored Japanese engineer statute's head was missing.
The member found the engineer's statue's head disappeared during his regular morning exercise routine around the area at 6:00 AM and immediately reported to police.
Police are looking into nearby surveillance camera records to identify the culprit that chopped off the statue head of the honored Japanese engineer in Taiwan.
The destruction of his statue led to widespread anger among Taiwanese, and Taiwan's Chia-nan Irrigation Association (台灣嘉南農田水利會) has condemned the act as "abominable.”
Yang Ming-feng (楊明風), the head of Chia-nan Irrigation Association said the statue repairs can be completed in one week, and aiming to complete fixing the statue prior to May 8 the date that Hatta died, where an annual memorial service will be held.
Hatta, is highly regarded in Taiwan for his legacy of building the dam that transformed the wasteland Jianan Plain (嘉南平原) into the nation's most fertile "rice barn”(台灣米倉).
Born on Feb. 21, 1886, Hatta, a native of Ishikawa Prefecture, was assigned to the Taiwan Government-General after earning a degree in civil engineering at Tokyo Imperial University.
At the time Taiwan was under the colonial rule of Japan, which lasted from 1895 until 1945.
The then 33-year-old Hatta, designed the blueprint of the Wushanto Water Reserve in 1919, and supervised the construction of the dam which began in 1920. He raised funds over the next 9.5 years and completed constructions of the dam by May 1930.
At the time, the 1,300 meters Wushanto Dam and 16,000-kilometers waterway was considered one of the largest and most advanced dams in Asia, and was the world’s third largest dam in 1930.
In the following decade that ensued, the important dam infrastructure helped control irrigation of the Jianan Plain (嘉南平原), which previously was prone to floods or severe droughts throughout the year, making it difficult to cultivate into fertile farm soil.
Hatta died on May 8, 1942 when the boat he was on heading towards Southeast Asia was blown up during World War II.
Parts of his story are shown in Taiwan's 2014 blockbuster baseball movie Kano.
The Japanese civil engineer remains a highly honored and commemorated figure in Taiwan for his various contributions to the nation.
Current president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former president Ma Ying-jeou have both paid their respects to the Japanese engineer's statue in the past, furthermore, his statue acts as a symbol of the friendship between Taiwan and Japan.