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ISSUE 54 : Ecological Dialogues in The Sandbox
The Integration of Opium in the Southern Sphere (1943)
南方阿片統一論 (1943)
July 14th, 2022Type: Art Production
Author: 荒川淺吉, 鄭惠文 (中譯), 黃亮融 (Trans.) Editor: Rikey Tenn
Quote From: 《阿片の認識》
Note: From the CREATORS project (Creation/ Research Support), A Field Guide to Getting Lost in the Southern Universe, the English translation of this article (original by 荒川淺吉 in 1943) is supported by Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab.

Speaking of the opium problem, although it is limited to East Asian colonies, it should still be viewed as a global issue of international politics. Like what is mentioned earlier, one of the reasons is that opium has been used as a unique weapon by the Western powers to invade and exploit East Asia; but now that the empire has sounded the alarm, and these Western powers have been utterly defeated by national awakening. However, even though white people have left, the bad habit they developed over the past century has become so entrenched that it is now difficult to remove. So, how to deal with the problem is a crucial matter that decides the future of East Asian nations. One has to muster the power of the entire nation to face it with the most serious attitude. This is the reason why opium, which is equally important as rice and salt, is viewed as a fundamental problem in formulating countermeasures for East Asia.

However, we already possess forty-five years of techniques and experiences in Taiwan. The future looks indeed promising. First of all, all the people in the colonies have awakened from the dream of liberalism, and have entered a transitional stage of national totalitarianism. It is only natural that opium will soon be eradicated. This is because opium is the most despicable habit in individualism—facing major situations related to the future of a nation, to want to indulge indifferently in daydreaming alone in the room should never be allowed. Besides, the leaping economic and cultural development, combined with the transition from individualism to national totalitarianism, has increasingly turned opium into a taboo. To name a somewhat unfitting example: in the Philippines, the popularization of movie and dancing has achieved great effect in terms of striking a blow against opium. Moreover, considering the fact that collective training and monopoly of liquor in Taiwan have made a contribution, I can say for sure that opium will be eradicated naturally, as the imperial instruction philosophy of national integration prevails. However, we should not have this “wait for the ripe persimmons to fall from the trees on their own”-kind-of-attitude, and do nothing about this scary poison. The only way to national prosperity is to remove this poison as early as possible. So, all the disputes aside, what can we do about this festering opium problem in East Asia?

Considering the forty-five years of experience in Taiwan, the opium problem in East Asia could be dealt with in two parts: One is the measures taken in China, and the other is the measures applied to the Southern Sphere. However, whereas it is relatively easier to implement effective and suitable measures in the Southern Sphere, it is more urgent to help restrict the opium situation in China—that is, the key to the so-called southern policies is to first deal with the opium in China. So, what should be the first Southern Sphere policy? Although the empire’s knowledge of opium includes the Manju-gurun and the Kantō-shū, its design is based on the research in Taiwan. In terms of the special circumstances in the north, it also takes into consideration the climatic conditions, such as high temperature, much rain, high humidity, and the ethnic conditions of overseas Chinese and the Hontō Jin [island’s residents]. Consequently, the Taiwan technologies and experiences require no modification, and can be put to practical use immediately. In particular, the demand of opium in the entire Southern Sphere is estimated at 300,000 kg, and the production capacity of Taiwan’s opium factory amounts to 250,000 kg. As it is mentioned earlier, it is acceptable to deal with production and sales by managing operation and setting up agencies in different colonies. However, in terms of the grander scheme involving the entire East Asia, in my opinion, the ideal plan would be to expand slightly the Taiwan factory, which already has a production capacity of 250,000 kg, and make it the production center for the rest. The reasons for doing so are:

  1. A large production capacity can reduce production cost, which helps suppress the selling price of opium paste.
  2. Despite the colonies’ differences, standardized quality and specification of government-produced opium paste helps clamp down contraband.
  3. To gradually lower the morphine content can help addicts naturally quit the addiction. Furthermore, when the morphine byproduct is used up, the government-produced opium can be used in medical treatment. (If it is to be produced in separate factories in different colonies, it is difficult to implement the measure of lowering the morphine content.)



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  • 《臺灣阿片志》,臺灣總督府專賣局
  • 《專賣事業年報》,臺灣總督府專賣局
  • 《極東阿片問題 》,國際聯盟協會
  • 《臺灣文化史(中卷)》,伊能嘉矩
  • 《罌粟源流考
  • 《清稗類抄
  • 《支那阿片問題解決意見》,大內丑之助
  • 《臺灣舊慣調查書
  • 《アヘン戰爭と香港》,矢野仁一
  • 《東洋史教授資料》,桑原隲藏
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