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Tainan mayor: Friendship that stands tests is real friendship
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(Photo courtesy of CNA)
Taipei, May 7 (CNA) Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te said Sunday that he is convinced Taiwanese-Japanese friendship will become even firmer as the beheaded statue of a Japanese hydraulic engineer at Wushantou Reservoir was repaired and reinstated in less than a month.

"A friendship that stands tests is real friendship," Lai told a gathering at a ceremony to unveil the repaired statue of Yoichi Hatta, who designed the Chianan Canal and Wushantou Reservoir when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule between 1895 and 1945.

On April 16, the head of the statue was discovered to be missing. Lee Cheng-lung, a former Taipei city councilor, admitted he was responsible for what had happened. Chimei Museum promised to help repair the damaged statue.

Lai said that Hatta, born in Kanazawa City in Japan's Ishikawa Prefecture in 1886, came to Taiwan after graduating from Tokyo University to build Asia's then-most advanced reservoir and irrigation system, which benefited local farmers as well as Taiwan's economy.

It was out of local people's gratitude for him that the bronze statue was raised in 1931 to commemorate the engineer's contribution one year after the completion of the canal, Lai pointed out.

He said the statue was erected inside the local irrigation association's property, not as part of a government program, so even those who do not like Hatta or what he represents should respect the "private" nature of the statue.

"This is a ceremony held by the private sector, not by the central or local government. As mayor of Tainan who has been invited to attend, I think I should indeed be present," Lai said.

Yukiyoshi Yamano, mayor of Kanazawa City, thanked Lai and local leaders for their kind and efficient efforts to restore "this great man's statue" at the reservoir.

"I would like to emphasize that Japan-Taiwan relations and friendship will not change because of this incident," Yamano said.

Hatta's grandson, Shuichi Hatta, expressed his amazement at the rapid restoration work and thanked Lai and other Taiwanese people's support for the project.

Noting that he, too, is confident that Taiwan-Japan friendship will not be shaken by the damage to his grandfather's statue, Hatta promised to come back again to Taiwan to attend more memorials in honor of the "father of the Chianan Canal."

Yang Ming-feng, president of the Chianan Irrigation Association, said his association has beefed up security and monitoring of the environs to ensure that no further vandalism will occur.