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|Location||Formosa, Qing Taiwan (Taiwan Prefecture, Fujian Province, Qing dynasty)|
|Victim||54 Ryukyuan sailors|
12 survivors were rescued by Han Chinese and were later returned to Miyako Island in the Ryukyus. However, because the Ryukyu Kingdom was in the Qing sphere of influence as well as the Japanese sphere of influence, the massacre was used as a pretext for Japan to eventually annex the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879. Japan sent a military force to Taiwan in the Taiwan Expedition of 1874 in retaliation for the death of "Japanese nationals." The Mudan Incident supposedly showed the weakness of Qing control over Eastern Taiwan, therefore opening the door to Japan questioning Qing-China's regional sovereignty.
Shipwrecks during this time period were common. Between 1701 and 1876, 278 Ryukyuan ships were wrecking along China's coast, with more than Ryukyuan shipwrecks along Taiwan's coast alone. On November 30, 1871 four Ryukyuan tributary ships left the capital of Shuri, on Okinawa island, homebound for Miyako island and the Yaeyama islands (both in the Southern part of the Ryukyu Kingdom). However, before reaching home the four ships were blown off course and hit by a typhoon on December 12, 1871. Of the two ships bound for Yaeyama, one was lost and the other landed on Taiwan's west coast. Of the two Miyakojima bound ships, one made it back to Miyako, the other— whose sailors would later be the ones killed by natives— was shipwrecked off the coast of Southeastern Taiwan near Bayao Bay. There were 69 sailors on the shipwrecked vessel, three of whom died trying to get to shore.
Massacre on December 18, 1871
On December 17, 1871, the remaining 66 Ryukyuan passengers managed to get onto shore and reportedly met two Chinese men who warned them against traveling inland for fear of encountering the Paiwan people— who the men reported were dangerous. Survivor's testimony also states that the sailors were robbed by the Chinese and afterwards parted ways with the men. 
On the morning of December 18, the Ryukyuans set out westward and thus encountered, presumably, the Paiwan people, who subsequently brought the Ryukyuans to Kuskus village and provided them with food, water, and housing for the evening. Testimony from survivors again states that they were robbed during the night, this time by their Kuskus hosts. The next day, under orders to stay in place while locals went hunting, the Ryukyuans tried to leave while the hunters were gone. As stated by historian Paul Barclay: "The presence of so many armed men, coupled with the rumors of head hunting that had greeted them on shore two days earlier, impelled them [the Ryukyuans] to make a break for it while the hunting party was absent."
Many of the Ryukyuans sheltered in the home of Deng Tianbao ("Old Weng" in survivor's testimony), an elderly Hakka trading post operator. However, on the same day, Paiwan men found the Ryukyuans in Deng's home, and dozens were killed outside of it, several more Ryukyuans were captured while fleeing and killed then. 54 of the 66 Ryukyuans were killed in the massacre, nine managed to stay hidden in Deng's house, while three who escaped were captured by other Paiwanese people.
The nine survivors at Deng's house were moved to a larger Hakka compound, Poliac (Baoli), where they were taken care of by the village head Yang Youwang. Yang Youwang was also Deng Tianbao's son-in-law. Yang also arranged ransom for the three escapees in Paiwan hands, and ultimately sheltered the 12 surviving Ryukyuans for about 40 days. The survivors were then sent to Taiwan-fu (modern-day Tainan), later taken to Fuzhou, and then returned to Naha in July 1872.
People who rescued the 12 sailors
- Yang Youwang (楊友旺) (1824–1916) was the head of a township and he looked dignified in formal Chinese uniform in a picture on the cover of the book of Miyaguni Fumio. He sheltered 9 people and saved other 3 people giving precious animals and clothing to the aborigines. He let his son and nephew go with the 12 people to safety.
- Lin Ajiu (林阿九) was a town head who later persuaded Wen Zhulei (溫朱雷) into giving the 44 skulls recovered them to the Japanese army. His family has continued memorial services for the victims.
- Deng Tianbao (鄧天保) and Ling Laosheng (凌老生)
Victims and Survivors
- Name of origin is from Chinese Wikipedia.[better source needed]
- Niya is the name of a Pechin-class person in Ryūkyū (Okinawa and Miyakojima), whose name is unknown.
- This table was compiled by Shimabukuro Kame (11 people of Okinawa) and by Motomura Choryo (43 people of Miyakojima). Shimabukuro Kame asked Teruya Hiroshi to look for information in 1925; Teruya asked Motomura Choryo in Miyakojima for information.
|Name||Name of origin||Assignment||Address||Fate and others|
|Nakasone Gen-an||Chudo||Head of a large community||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed, Huge body carried by two persons|
|Tanahara Gen-ei||Chudo||Head of a township||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Hoeshige Genkan||Chudo||Head of a township||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Takaesu Yoshiyo||Mazoku||Head of a township||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Okudaira Niya||Unknown||Assistant head of a township||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Takaesu Niya||Unknown||Assistant head of a township||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Tanahira Genkyo||Chudo||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Hoeshige Genkei||Chudo||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Takaesu Niya||Unknown||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Hirara Keisei||Shirakawa||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Tsukayama Keigo||Shirakawa||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Soeishi Niya||Unknown||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Inafuku Niya||Unknown||Secretary||Hirara of Miyako||Killed|
|Takahara Niya||Unknown||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Aniya Yoshimasa||Mazoku||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Yamauchi Niya||Unknown||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Yamauchi Niya||Unknown||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Shitahaku Niya||Unknown||Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Ikemura Niya||Unknown||Makata Secretary||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Magtsukawa Kin||None||Lower servant (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Maekawa Yashin||None||Servant (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Hamakawa Kin||None||Servant (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Maedomari Kin||None||Servant (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Futenma Kin||None||Servant (head)||Irabujima of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Sakumoto Keiza||None||Servant (head)||Irabujima of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Ikema Kin||None||Servant (head)||Irabujima of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Nakachiya Makoto||None||Servant (head)||Irabujima of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Nagahama Kama||None||Servant (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Uchima Ka-a-ryou||None||Servant (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Uchima Yashin||None||Servant (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Kawamitsu Kin||None||Servant (assistant)||Shimojimura of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Maesato Kama||None||Servant (assiatant)||Shirabejima of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Shimajiri Chabu||None||Servant (assistant)||Simojimura of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Nobara Tsuro||None||Servant (assistant)||Shimojimura of Miyakojima||Killed|
||None||Servant (assistant)||Shimojimura of Miyakojima||Killed|
||None||Servant (assistant)||Shimojishima of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Oyadomari Niya||Unknown||Samurai class follower (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Karimata Niya||Unknown||Samurai class follower (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Karimata Niya||Unknown||Samurai class follower (head)||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Sunagawa Niya||Unknown||Samurai class follower (head)||Shimojimura of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Matsukawa Niya||Unknown||Samurai class follower||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Kataesu Niya||Unknown||Samurai class follower||Hirara of Miyakoima||Killed|
|Okuhira Niya||Unknown||Samurai class follower||Hirara of Miyakojima||Killed|
|Shinjo Choken||Unknown||Getting a lift||Shuri of Okinawa||Killed|
|Miyagi Mototaka||Unknown||Getting a lift||Shuri of Okinawa||Killed|
|Taba Kame||None||Getting a lift||Shuri of Okinawa||Killed|
|Aragaki Bou||None||Getting a lift||Shuri of Okinawa||Killed|
|Nakamatsu Bou||None||Getting a lift||Shuri of Okinawa||Killed|
|Iha Hiroyuki||Unknown||Getting a lift||Naha of Okinawa||Killed|
|Matsuda Kame||None||Getting a lift||Naha of Okinawa||Killed|
|Aragaki Niou||Unknown||Getting a lift||Naha of Okinawa||Killed|
|Nakankadari Kame||None||Getting a lift||Naha of Okinawa||Killed|
|Iju Kame||None||Getting a lift||Naka-atama||Killed|
|Nakasone Matsu||None||Getting a lift||Nakijin of Okinawa||Killed|
|Shimabukuro Jiryou||None||Unknown||Shuri of Okinawa||Alive, father of Shimabukuro Kame|
|Shimabukuro Kame||None||Unknown||Shuri of Okinawa||Alive, died in 1926 at age 76, left documents|
|Jabana Jiryou||None||Unknown||Shuri of Okinawa||Alive, Interpreter in Chinese characters|
|Nakamoto Kana||None||Unknown||Shuri of Okinawa||Alive|
|Tokeiji Matsu||None||Unknown||Naha of Okinawa||Alive|
|Shimajiri Yonabaaru||None||Unknown||Naha of Okinawa||Alive|
|Zashiki Bou||None||Unknown||Kerama||Alive, boatman|
|Hirara Niya||Unknown||Unknown||Miyakojima||Alive, in exchange for a cow|
|Urasaki Kin||None||Unknown||Miyakojima||Alive, in exchange for clothing|
Shimabukuro Kame (1850–1926) was a survivor and an important informant concerning the incident and victims. His father and he were lower class peichin without salary living at Shuri, Okinawa; there were 5 victims living at Shuri, and they were being given a lift on the ship. In 1872, his father and he were interviewed by the Ryukyu government. After the abolition of the clan, what they did was not known. In 1925, Kame sent a letter to Iha Fuyū who introduced Teruya Hiroshi who gave the address of rescuers, since Kame wanted to thank them. Teruya Hiroshi was deeply moved and after the addresses of Miyako victims were investigated by Motomura Choryo, the names of the victims were engraved into the tombs of both Taiwan and Naha.
Motomura Choryo (1876–1937) was the town head of Hirara between 1917 and 1919. He gave information on Miyako victims.
"Although it became a truism among Japanese officials and subsequent chroniclers that Paiwanese Mudan villagers murdered the seafarers, residents of Kuskus, today known as Gaoshifo, were the assailants." The title of "The Mudan Incident" remains a misnomer due to this.
A very real consequence of the Mudan Incident however, was the Taiwan Expedition of 1874. Despite the Ryukyu Kingdom being an independent state at the time, the Japanese government eventually demanded that the Qing government be responsible for the actions of the Paiwan, which the Qing government dismissed, on the grounds that "civilization had not been extended to the region." The Ryukyu Kingdom court itself did not lobby Japanese officials to step in on their behalf for the victims of the shipwreck, in fact the Ryukyu court sent a reward to Chinese officials in Fuzhou for the safe return of the twelve survivors. According to Professor Matayoshi Seikiyo, the Mudan incident was historically important for two reasons: it resulted in the "verdict that the Ryukyu islands belonged to Japan," and it "served as a stepping stone for the later occupation and colonization of Taiwan by Japan." 
Japanese officials launched the invasion of Taiwan in 1874 in name of avenging the deaths of the 54 deceased Ryukyuans.
Mutual Misunderstanding and Contemporary Reconciliation
Most local, indigenous accounts of the Mudan Incident have been overshadowed by larger state narratives from Japan for two reasons: Ryukyuan languages do not have a writing system, and neither does Paiwanese. For this reason, oral tradition in the form of oral histories, testimonies, and depositions are utilized in both the Ryukyuan and Paiwan cases.
Language also may have played a role in the incident itself. According to local Paiwan historian Valjeluk Mavalju, the offering of water by the Kuskus residents were a local symbol that offered protection and friendship. “In Paiwan tribal tradition, drinking water offered by a stranger means agreeing to peaceful engagement between equals. But the abrupt disappearance breached that agreement, turning guests into enemies.” The unfamiliar circumstances may have attributed to the Ryukyuans fleeing Kuskus, the language barrier between the Ryukyuans and Paiwan likely attributed to this misunderstanding.
Scholars of Taiwan and Okinawa such as Yang Meng-che, Matayoshi Seikiyo, Lianes Punanang, as well as local historians such as Valjeluk Mavalju have sought to re-examine the Mudan Incident through use of local oral histories, consideration of geopolitics of the time, and recenter both Paiwan people and Ryukyuans, not just as a precursor to the 1874 invasion.
According to Lianes Punanang: “On the whole, both my people and our Miyako counterparts were victims, but the sad thing is that their descendants have had to wait for 140 years to be able to talk about what reportedly happened.” Reconciliation visits between descendants of the Miyako/ Ryukyuan sailors and Paiwan descendants have been taking place since 2004.
Tomb and afterwards
The Japanese expedition army established a memorial tower in front of the tomb where Taiwanese rescuers made, and collected skulls, 44 skulls; 10 skulls could not be recovered. The skulls were transferred first to Nagasaki and then to Naha and buried there and later at Gokoku-ji (Okinawa) in the same city. In 1980, the tomb was made again anew, and related people attended the ceremony from Miyako Island. The tombstone however has been criticized by Paiwan and Okinawans as having a Japan-centric view, as well as being anachronistic. In 1997, Fumio Miyakuni visited the related places and wrote a book.
- 臺灣歷史地圖 增訂版. [Taiwan Historical Maps, Expanded and Revised Edition]. Taipei: National Museum of Taiwan History. February 2018. p. 80. ISBN 978-986-05-5274-4.
- Leung, Edwin Pak-Wah (1983). "The Quasi-War in East Asia: Japan's Expedition to Taiwan and the Ryūkyū Controversy". Modern Asian Studies. 17 (2): 257–281. doi:10.1017/s0026749x00015638. ISSN 0026-749X.
- Barclay, Paul (2017). Outcasts of Empire: Japan's Rule of Taiwan's "Savage Border," 1874-1945. University of California Press. pp. Chapter 1: From Wet Diplomacy to Scorched Earth: The Taiwan Expedition, the Guardline, and the Wushe Rebellion" PAGE 50.
- Barclay, Paul (2017). Outcasts of Empire: Japan's Rule on Taiwan's "Savage Border," 1874-1945. University of California Press. pp. Chapter 1: "From Wet Diplomacy to Scorched Earth: The Taiwan Expedition, Guardline, and the Wushe Rebellion" PAGE 52.
- Fumio (1998), p. 380.
- Nishida, Masaru (November 24, 2005). "Japan, the Ryukyus and the Taiwan Expedition of 1874: toward reconciliation after 130 years". The Asia-Pacific Journal. 3.
- Barclay, Paul (2017). Outcasts of Empire: Japan's Rule on Taiwan's "Savage Border," 1874-1945. University of California Press. pp. Chapter 1: "From Wet Diplomacy to Scorched Earth: The Taiwan Expedition, Guardline, and the Wushe Rebellion PAGE 54.
- Lu, Ella (January 11, 2005). "Taiwanese Natives break Mudan Incident silence". The Japan Times. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- "Paiwan Aborigines and Okinawans meet to close old wounds". Taiwan Today. December 26, 2011. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- Fumio (1998).