Taipei, April 16 (CNA) Chi Mei Museum in Tainan has extended a helping hand to repair a statue of the Japanese hydraulic engineer responsible for constructing the Wushantou Reservoir, after the statue was found on Sunday with its head removed, according to the Tainan City government.
The statue of Yoichi Hatta, who designed the Chianan Canal and the Wushantou Reservoir when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945), was commissioned by his subordinates in 1931 and installed at the reservoir, one year after the completion of the canal, the largest water irrigation project in Taiwan.
Over the past few years, an annual memorial has been held for the Japanese water conservationist every May 8, the anniversary of his death, to mark his invaluable contribution to the increase of rice production in the southern city through water conservation and irrigation projects, according to the city government.
The Chia-Nan Irrigation Association, which administers the reservoir, is seeking to complete the repair work within one week in order to have enough time to prepare for the memorial event, said Yang Ming-feng (楊明風), head of the association.
Yang also urged the vandals to return the head and called on the public to contact the association if they have any information about its whereabouts.
After learning about the incident, Chi Mei Group founder Hsu Wen-long (許文龍) instructed museum staff to help fix the damaged statue.
Consultants at the museum and sculptors have visited the reservoir to gain a better understanding of the situation, according to a spokesman for the museum.
The museum has previously created three bronze busts of the Japanese engineer modeled on the statue at the reservoir. One was given to Japan, another to the association to be placed in a memorial hall to Yoichi Hatta at the reservoir and the third has been kept at the museum, the spokesman noted.
The spokesman said that head of the statue at the museum is expected to be used to repair the statue at the reservoir with work expected to take one week to complete.
Meanwhile, Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te (賴清德) has instructed city police authorities to form a special task force to investigate the vandalism.
(By Yang Sz-ruei and Evelyn Kao)