戦後期南西諸島における爆薬漁―八重山諸島の事例― [in Japanese] Blast Fishing in the Ryukyu Islands after the World War II: Two Cases from Yaeyama Archipelago [in Japanese]
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In the period of the occupation by GHQ (General Headquarters of the Allied Forces), which lasted until 1952 in mainland Japan and until 1972 in Okinawa, it is reported that explosives were often used for fisheries over southwestern Japan. This kind of fishing has been banned by the law of hazardous materials, as well as by the fisheries law because explosive are quite possible to damage fishing grounds. This illegal fishing, however, was exercised in this period of sudden population increase caused by colonizers' and immigrants' return from Taiwan, Micronesia, and Southeast Asia because of Japan's defeat. Especially in rural societies of small islands, who had sent off numbers of immigrants because of lack of lands and capitals to feed all the inhabitants, had difficulties in this period of massive returns. The "illegal fishing" was, therefore, exercised as a means to meet the huge demands of food, though situation differs according to places and periods. The details of this activity will elucidate the problem in fisheries and rural societies in this age, and focuses a significant aspect of the history of post-war Japanese fisheries. However, those who were concerned are not willing to speak on this matter because of its illegality. Now, almost half a century after the end of this fishery, the author feels that a large network of researchers should be organized to collect and record the related testimonies from various areas. This paper, as a deliberate contribution to the coming and far-reaching project, describes a tip of my own researches. In the present paper, the review of published materials relating to blast fishing is followed by analysis of testimonies from two witnesses living on two islands belonging to Yaeyama Archipelago, the westernmost islands in Japan's territory. It is located just close to Taiwan, and separated from the Japan's four major islands by a 1,000 km distance, and even from Okinawa Island by a distance of more than 400 km. Both of the two testimonies showed a various situations and processes of blast fishing which cannot be imagined from a stereotyped thought. The testimony from Iriomote Island revealed the various sources of explosives: dynamites provided from a coal mine, grenade, and extraction from unused cannon balls or mines. The blast fishing also proved to be conducted by not only fulltime fishers but also farmers, coal miners, soldiers in charge, and ex-soldiers who remained on the island. Such various non-fishers had to overcome the sharp increase in population and accompanying food demand without any fishing gears and skills. The series of the examples which the witness raised showed that, in 1930s through 1960s when economic conditions changed unstably, the socially-disadvantaged in each period used explosives for their own survival. The testimony from Kohama Island where fulltime fishers conducted blast fishing, on the other hand, showed a highly sophisticated integration of explosives into the technological system. For example, they adjusted the volume of explosives according to the target species and merchants' requirement, while they also considered the point and timing to throw the explosive according to the species' behavior. Their fishing method proved not to be destructive because the impulse did not reach to the bottom where a fisher once escaped onto in order to avoid the injury. Their activities were also far from easy business but a means of livelihood in a limited opportunity. Further collection and analysis of historical testimonies on blast fishing are expected now that the witnesses are getting old, although the researchers should pay attentions to the witnesses' PTSD and privacy...(continued)...
- The Journal of Island Studies
The Journal of Island Studies 18(1), 1-14, 2017
The Japan Society of Island Studies