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On October 17, Katsu Tominaga, one of the “Wansei" in the Taiwanese documentary, “Hometown. A story about Wansei going home," went back to his alma mater, National University of Tainan, and was awarded the enrollment documents he was too late to retrieve after WWII. Upon receiving the documents, Tominaga was moved to tears and says, “I finally got my academic record and fulfilled my wishes of the last 70 years."

Wansei refer to Taiwan-born Japanese during the Japanese colonial period, including the children born to Japanese-Taiwanese couples. Back then the government encouraged Japanese people to immigrate to the east coast of Taiwan, so parents of Wansei carried all of their property to the island, dreaming to build a new homeland. They built tens of immigrant villages, survived natural disasters and prepared to settle down here without knowing they would lose to a war.

In 1946, Japan was defeated and the Wansei, who were repatriated to Japan, became permanent strangers. They were treated as Japanese when they were in Taiwan, but taken as Taiwanese when they returned to Japan. The Wansei had to start a new life in Japan with nothing but discrimination. People said they were losers of the war with epidemic diseases and even disapproved of their Japanese accent. Despite all of this, the Wansei still harbor special feelings towards Taiwan and regard it to be their hometown.

China Times reports, in order to record the story, a descendant of a Wansei, Mika Tanaka, spent 12 years of documenting more than 200 Wansei and helped them find their birthplace. The story was even written into a book. The documentary was released on October 16 in Taiwan.

Tanaka says, “The story of the Wansei is beautiful, but hasn’t been recorded in Taiwan or Japan. The Wansei is something beautiful that happened on this island."

Liberty Times reports, the grandpas and grandmas that appear in the documentary returned to Taiwan when the film was released. Producer of the film, Tanaka, even prepared a surprise for 88-year-old Tominaga and had his diploma issued by Tominaga’s alma mater. The man says he now has no regrets in his life.

CNA reports, Tominaga was born in 1927 and enrolled in Taiwan Governor Tainan Normal School (known as National University of Tainan today) in 1944. He was repatriated the next year due to Japan’s defeat in the war.

Tominaga stepped on the island again because of the documentary. It has been eight years since his last visit to his alma mater. He says that he was allowed to teach in Japan because he had gone to teachers’ college in Taiwan for a year and he has always longed for the graduation certificate.

Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang