Readers who remember my discussions of Kokaryo(光華寮), the Kyoto student dormitory for overseas Chinese students which became the center of the longest duration lawsuit in Japanese legal history might be interested to know about Seikaryo (清華寮), a Chinese student dormitory located in Tokyo, which was purchased under significantly different, but also interesting circumstances.Seikaryo recently made the news due to a tragic fire that killed two women living there, which was brought to my attention via an email from Curzon. Seikaryo, like Kokaryo, was originally purchased as a dormitory for Taiwanese students studying in Japan, but where Kokaryo had been purchased by the Taiwanese Republic of China government (possible with funds that may have been repayment for property taken by Japan from mainland China-this and other vagaries led to the bizarre and complex circumstances of the lawsuit, about which one can read in my earlier pieces), Seikaryo was constructed in 1927 by a foundation belonging to the Japanese colonial Governor General in Taiwan, when Taiwan was an internationally recognized colonial possession of Japan.

According to this article, the property rights of the dormitory were unclear after the war, leading to problems involving such things as the assessment of taxes, but apparently-unlike Kokaryo- it remained a residence for students from both Taiwan and China. This article, from a mainland China source, claims that both Kokaryo and Seikaryo were purchased by the Taiwanese government while it was under Japanese occupation, and after Japan’s surrender became property of the People’s Republic of China, but since Kokaryo was in fact not purchased by Taiwan until 1952, when the ROC government had already lost the civil war, the Chinese article is clearly false. Last, this article from a Taiwanese source states that the actual land is owned by Japan, with a term that I believe means something like Right of Occupation (房舍產權) residing with Taiwan. It is unclear however if this refers to the situation at the time of construction (1927), or the present.

If anyone has more information on Seikaryo, particularly as it compares with the somewhat more famous Kokaryo, I would be very interested in hearing.

My original piece on Kokaryo is here, and my piece on the resolution (at least for the time being) of the legal battle is here.

6 thoughts on “Seikaryo”

  1. Though it was all over by 1952, Japan did not formally sign a treaty with the ROC until April 28 of that year and I have heard it argued that Japan was still officially sovereign over Taiwan until that time. See “Treaty of Taipei” in Wikipedia.
    Maybe that is what the article meant about 1952? It is very possible that PRC propagandists are talking out both sides of their mouths.

  2. Well, in the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 Japan officially gave up all claim to Taiwan and its affiliated outlying islands, without specifying who would be sovereign over them. Some supporters of Taiwanese independence use this as part of their legalistic argument for the existence of an independent Taiwan not equal to the Republic Of China. In the 1952 Japan/ROC peace treaty Japan recognizes the ROC’s sovereignty over Taiwan, but I suppose one could argue that while this does affect Japan-Taiwan/ROC relations, it could not effect the actual legal situation of Taiwanese sovereignty, since Japan had given up any potential ability to affect said sovereignty the previous year in the SF treaty.

    The Treaty of Taipei would, however, affect the disposition of ROC/Taiwan owned property in Japan.

    See the actual text.

    The disposition of property of Japan and of its nationals in Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores), and their claims, including debts, against the authorities of the Republic of China in Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores) and the residents thereof, and the disposition in Japan of property of such authorities and residents and their claims, including debts, against Japan and its nationals, shall be the subject of special arrangements between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of China. The terms nationals and residents whenever used in the present Treaty include juridical persons.

    So I suppose that Seikaryo, which was apparently owned by some sort of legal corporation established by the Governor General of Taiwan, could have had its legal
    title deliberately altered after the 1952 treaty. As far as I know, Kokaryo had been privately owned from its date of construction in 1931, and was leased by Kyoto University in 1945 specifically for students from the ROC. In 1952 Taiwan/ROC purchased the property, but I am somewhat unclear what the situation was between the end of the war and 1952, or why they purchased it at that time. Certainly the 1952 date of the Taipei Treaty could have some significance.

  3. but I suppose one could argue that while this does affect Japan-Taiwan/ROC relations, it could not effect the actual legal situation of Taiwanese sovereignty, since Japan had given up any potential ability to affect said sovereignty the previous year in the SF treaty.

    That’s one argument; the other is that in international law there are no conditions under which a government in exile can make itself sovereign over the territory it is exiled to. Hence the ROC can never be sovereign over Taiwan, whatever Japan might say.

    Very interesting article, Roy. Hope you find more on this.


  4. BTW, the US position was, until Nixon, that the ROC-Japan treaty did nothing about Taiwan. From the CRS Report on my site:

    Even while recognizing the ROC government and its “jurisdiction” over
    Taiwan, on the eve of the Nixon Administration’s contacts with PRC leaders in
    Beijing, the State Department testified to Congress in 1969 and 1970 that the
    juridical matter of the status of Taiwan remained undetermined. The State
    Department also wrote that:

    “In neither [the Japanese Peace Treaty of 1951 nor the Treaty of Peace between
    the Republic of China and Japan of 1952] did Japan cede this area [of Formosa
    and the Pescadores] to any particular entity. As Taiwan and the Pescadores are
    not covered by any existing international disposition, sovereignty over the area
    is an unsettled question subject to future international resolution.”

    That was in ’69 and ’70. Then Nixon sold Taiwan to China, and State began the long evolution that lead to its current position.


  5. Thanks Michael. Don’t worry, there will probably be more on this issue eventually. Too tired right now to respond seriously to your comments, but it’s interesting to note that the so-called “status quo” is constantly shifting. The US House voted last week to allow official contacts with Taiwan’s government. It isn’t formal recognition, but it’s a definite show of support. Here’s hoping it passes the Senate and Presidential veto.

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