Russia occupied Korea for the ten years before the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. With the Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the war, Russia handed over control of Korea to Japan and "Japan asserted herself as a power among her Asian neighbors. Japan's next move was to establish the Protectorate Treaty (1905) " (First, 1). In 1910, the Yi Dynasty came to an end and political and economic control went to Japan completely. "From the on start of the Meiji Restoration, Japan had it's eye on Korea" (First, 1). "Japanese colonial control in Korea passed through several stages of development, each of which was significant in establishing certain institutions and procedures.
In the first decade, 1910-1920, the Japanese created the administrative machinery of control and set the pattern of colonial exploitation; in the second decade, 1930-1940, the Japanese overlords built up their colony to feed their growing war machine by accelerating the rate of economic exploitation and of political suppression; and during the war year Korea was turned into an armed camp" (Korea, 86). Japan's attempts to assimilate the Korean people was not easy because Korean culture is so strong. This assimilation "came in many forms, including education, language, religion and name change" (Forced, 1). They changed the governmental structure by opening up six new departments for agriculture, security, internal affairs, finance, justice and industrial production and by making most of the Korean Government officials Japanese. They forced new economic policies on the Koreans, one of which was the Land Survey of 1910. This policy made the Korean's who owned the lands they worked on have to show proof of ownership to keep the land.
Many of these people did not have this proof and were kicked off their land thus handing over much of the Korean farm land to Japan. Japanese government in Korea developed the Company Law of 1910, which stated that Korean companies had to have a Japanese investor or manager in their business to get a license to run their company. They also set up new taxes on liquor, sugar and tobacco. The new cultural policies set up in Korea forced conscription, this policy sent Korean men to Japan to work as practically slaves in Japanese factories. The educational policy banned the teaching of Korean history and geography. It did, however, produce Seoul University which is still around today, though at that time, the classes were all taught in Japanese.
The Koreans were forced to change their names to Japanese names. They were also forced to learn Japanese in order to get ration cards during wartime. Even the clothing was changed into a more Japanese dress. "During the thirty-five years of Japanese domination, Korea underwent extreme suppression and hardships" (Korea, 87). The struggle that Koreans went through in this time is portrayed in the book written by Toshiyuki Kajiyama, The Clan Records.
The book is a collection of five stories revealing the difficulties and issues that were present between the Japanese and Koreans in light of colonial Korea. Kajiyama has a unique perspective because, though he was Japanese, he was born and grew up in Korea. "Kajiyama was born in Seoul, Korea, where his father, Yui chi, was a civil engineer in Japan's administration of Korea."He attended Japanese schools in Seoul and was a fifteen-year-old student at Keijo (Seoul) High School when the Pacific War ended in 1945" (Clan, 1). Toshiyuki lived in Korea from 1930 to 1945 when the defeat of Japan in World War II caused Japan to give up control of Korea. This gave him first hand knowledge on how the Korean people were treated in this time of "extremely harsh military rule. Known as bunk a seiji, this conciliatory policy lasted until power shifted to the military in Japan in the 1930's" (Kajiyama, 4).
Once this happen, Japanese tried to eliminate all of the Korean people's culture and traditions. "A large number of young Korean women -- perhaps as many as three hundred thousand -- many still in their early teens, we remoblized to serve as prostitutes in the name of 'comfort women' " (Kajiyama, 5-6). It was a time of desperation for all and Kajiyama captures this problematic time in his book The Clan Records. In the first of the five stories, The Clan Records, Mr. Tani worked in the governor-general's office in Korea trying to get the people who live in the districts he was assigned to change their names. At first, the Koreans were not forced to change their names to Japanese names, though many of the people that worked for the governor-general gave the Koreans no decision to change their names.
"Of all the edicts which attempted to assimilate the Koreans, the harshest one was implemented in 1939 with the Names Order" (Forced, 1). In the Clan Records, Mr. Tani had problems changing his district because one of the main families in the district refused to change their name, and thus, everyone else felt they had an equal right to keep their names. Mr. Tani, being sympathetic to the family's reasons for not wanting to change their name tried again and again to get him to change without force. Eventually the Japanese government took things into their own hands and tried many forms of persuasion. They arrested and abused the future son in law of the family and they still refused to take on a Japanese name. The man was eventually taken off to a military training camp.
Ok-sun, the daughter of the clan head was possibly the next target, so she quickly got a job to keep her from the labor camps. Eventually, the name conversion was complete and Sol Chin-yong (clan head) mysteriously died within the day of signing over his family name. This story is very indicative of what happen at the time of name conversion, even though it was not forced in the beginning many of the Japanese government workers who were responsible for the name conversion felt there was no other way to get Koreans to change their name than to pressure them. The second story in The Clan Records was Seeking Life amidst Death. This story shows the discrimination and learned tolerance from the point of view of a young boy. The young Japanese boy lives in Korea and works in a factory where he is exposed to Korean people every day on the commute there and back and in the factory work setting.
He seems to have little tolerance for these people, being Japanese and having a father that is "an official in Japan's government-general of Korea" gave him a sense of superiority. The boy asks his father at one point during an annual march up Mount Nams an why they did not allow the Korean real riffles as they did the Japanese high school students. His father immediately said, "Don't be a fool! Don't you know those Koreans will cause riots and rise in rebellion as soon as they get their hands on real rifles?" This was the reply many Japanese officials would have used and thus continuing the racism and segregation of the Japanese against Koreans. The main character is never on time to his job and is made fun of it by many of his Korean peers. He decides he is going to get to work earlier than everyone and does.
While waiting for the shuttle truck, he gets side tracked and misses the shuttle. With his plans thwarted, he is sitting under a tree when he is surprised by Kanemoto, a rich Korean who works with him at the glider factory. He has never liked Kanemoto, but as both of them have missed work, they hang out for a while during the day. He gets to know Kanemoto better and finds out things about him he never expected, for example, Kanemoto is married. At the end of the day they part ways, with the main character having a less racist view on Koreans because of his chance encounter with Kanemoto. Many Koreans were treated subservient to the Japanese that lived in their country.
That day, August fifteenth, 1945, the last day of war, a young man came to discover that Japanese and Korean people were not so different. When the Hibiscus Blooms is about Ikeda Shinichi, a teacher from Japan that goes to Korea to take up a teaching job, because he is having trouble finding work in Japan. "Going to China, Manchuria, or Korea in the hope of making a fortune attracted many Japanese in the 1930's. The trend was encouraged by Japan's government, which had ambitions in Manchuria even before it annexed Korea" (Kajiyama, 73).
The campaign of 'Give Birth and Multiply' backfired on the Japanese government and Japan began to overpopulate itself. The government then began to tell people that moving to Korea or Manchuria, Japan's colonies, they would gain great wealth because they had great land to farm. Many poor farmers moved in search of a better life, and other people in various professions went to the three other countries in search of more money. In The Remembered Shadow of the Yi Dynasty, an artist who lived in Korea. He was going to enter a contest with his painting of a kisaeng that he had met.
After he told her of his plans, she agreed to begin to meet and pose for him at his house. One day, while she is at his house, he brings out an old family album. She begins to look through it, gets very upset and leaves never to see him again. The page was left open to a picture of his father and mother after the March First Agitation. During this time, many people were killed, one of them being the kisaeng's father, who was ordered the death by the main characters father. So much violence toward Korean families was inflicted by the Japanese military during the time of colonial Korea.
As seen with these four stories from The Clans Records, Kajiyama Toshiyuki used his unique perspective of a Japanese person who lived in colonial Korea to tell the story of the four individuals. At the time he wrote the book he was living in Hawaii, it was the 70's and possibly a time of reflection on what he witnessed from his youth in Korea. Even at that time, more than 30 years after Korea became independent of Japan, there had still been no apology or even much recognition of the wrong doings by Japan during colonial Korea. In fact, just recently Japan is acknowledging the events that went on during the approximately 30 years of atrocities that took place.