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Memorial for Japanese engineer held in front of repaired statue
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Taipei, May 8 (CNA) A ceremony was staged at Wushantou Reservoir in Tainan, southern Taiwan, Monday in memory of Japanese hydraulic engineer Yoichi Hatta after his vandalized statue was repaired and unveiled the previous day.

Outside the reservoir, two groups of activists shouted slogans, one against Japanese colonial rule the other in favor of Taiwan independence and Japanese influence on Taiwan.

President Yang Ming-feng of Chianan Irrigation Association, which hosted the memorial, said more young people had learned about Hatta's invaluable contribution to Taiwan following the beheading of the statue.

On April 16, the head of the statue was discovered to be missing. Lee Cheng-lung, a former Taipei city councilor, admitted responsibility for the vandalism. Chimei Museum helped to repair the damaged statue.

"They have learned why local farmers are grateful for Hatta," who designed the Chianan Canal and Wushantou Reservoir when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule between 1895 and 1945, Yang said.

Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien said he was there to represent President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Lin Chuan.

Lin said both the central and local governments are troubled by water shortages caused by extreme weather; without the Chianan Canal and reservoir, Taiwan would face even greater difficulties.

The minister said Hatta's contributions to Taiwan's agriculture and economy will always be remembered and the Taiwan-Japan friendship will continue as long as both countries work jointly to promote peace in Asia.

Tainan City Mayor Lai Ching-te, who attended the unveiling of the repaired statue a day earlier, thanked Chimei Museum, artist Wang Chao-wang and others for repairing the statue in 11 days.

"It means people from all walks of life are showing their respect for Hatta. Instead of damaging Taiwan-Japan friendship, the incident has brought the two countries even closer together," Lai said.

Shuichi Hatta, the engineer's grandson, concurred, saying he has received messages from all sectors of Taiwan society about the vandalism of his grandfather's statue overlooking the reservoir.

Like the reservoir which still serves the public so many years after being built by his grandfather, the friendship between the people of Taiwan and Japan will endure, Hatta said.