Confusions and uncertainties in the National Taiwan University administration reflected the general disarray of all Nationalist Chinese organizations at this time. The Communists were growing stronger, the Chinese civil war intensified throughout the Chinese provinces, and the Generalissimo’s government was split by factions as he struck down potential non-Communist rivals ruthlessly. These included any liberal who seriously proposed a third party as an alternative to Nationalist or Communist leadership. It was difficult for men of integrity to survive in government service. Between 1945 and 1949 Formosa experienced its full share of confusion and exploitation, none of which could he blamed on the Communists. Although there were undoubtedly Communist agents on the island, there was no significant Communist party apparatus. Governor Chen’s successor, Wei Tao-ming, was considered little more than a figurehead, useful principally because of his wide acquaintance in Washington. Mrs. Wei was generally believed to run the government and the economy.
Despite corruption in the Taipei administration, Formosa’s academic world began to show signs of improvement. As the Communists advanced on the continent, many institutions were disrupted and many able scholars, uprooted and displaced, sought shelter on the island. The years 1948 and 1949 brought something like two million refugees into Formosa, together with public and private libraries, research collections, and art treasures. A number of well-known institutions that had managed to survive the Japanese invasion by moving from place to place, now made the final move over the straits and were reestablished in Formosa. Some new faculties were organized. The Academia Sinica, China’s most eminent intellectual center, having nowhere else to go, was resettled at Taipei. Our own university, founded by the Japanese in 1927 and reorganized by the Nationalists in 1946, now began to grow. Hundreds of young refugees from every province of China were enrolling with us.
I joined the faculty in the lowest rank as an assistant in the Department of Political Science in the College of Law. The college had taken over the buildings and grounds of the Japanese Higher Commercial School in 1947. The chairman of the department, Professor Wan, an able and interesting man, was soon obliged to leave Formosa. On the continent he had been aligned politically with the Generalissimo’s great rivals, General Pai Chung-hsi and Vice-president Li Tsung-jen, and was therefore unacceptable to Chiang. There were others, too, who were found to be politically unacceptable and were ousted after Chiang Ching-kuo entered Formosa with his secret police organizations in 1948 to make the island secure for his father’s flight from the continent.
In February, 1949, a few months after I returned to Taita, I married the eldest daughter of a landholding family living just north of Taipei. The wedding took place in my family’s church in Kaohsiung, after which we remained briefly in the south to make a round of ceremonial visits to all my relatives in that area. On returning to the capital we settled into a small suburban house on the northern side of the city, near the Keelung River. I crossed town to the university each day by bus.
Soon after I resumed my duties the College of Law acquired a new dean, Professor Sah Meng-wu, a Chinese who had graduated from my old higher school, San-ko, and from the Kyoto Imperial University. He personally paid great attention to me and to my friend Liu Chin-sui who was also a graduate of San-ko. Liu had gone on to Tokyo Imperial University as I had, where he was my junior by one year. On returning to Formosa at the war’s end, without finishing his degree, he had married my cousin. He was a member of our San-San Kai group and after that we were the closest of friends.
The dean urged us both to write academic articles for publication, and when we did, he took great pains to correct our Chinese, page by page and word by word. This was a great and unusual concession on the part of a dean, and we were grateful. We thus wrote many articles, long and short, and it required much time and energy on his pad to correct the texts. Under his guidance our command of the Chinese written language improved rapidly. Within a year or two Chinese faculty members in our school began to say with apparent astonishment that our Chinese was almost as good as that of a “true Chinese” brought up on the continent. We owed these compliments to Dean Sah’s patient care, and he said repeatedly in public that only the Japanese educational system could produce such promising young scholars.
We began to hear some of the older Chinese scholars and administrators say that we should become the backbone of this college. My friend Liu specialized in constitutional law and I concentrated upon public international law. When the university annexed the former Japanese commercial college, it had acquired an excellent library of about 50,000 books. This was enlarged to hold all the books inherited by the School of Law from the old Taihoku Imperial University collections. The prewar university library had contained more than 400,000 volumes, of which at least two-thirds were in European languages. Now the new Taita School of Law Library was augmented by Chinese publications. The growing collection was not catalogued or well organized, however, and I took delight in browsing in the stacks to discover new and interesting items. It was here that I came upon volumes devoted to the subject of air law. I found a long treatise in French, Le Goff’s Le Droit Aérien, which I read with absorbing interest. In the light of later developments in my career I suspect that I was stirred by some subjective fascination with planes, especially planes at war, after my own traumatic experiences at Nagasaki.
Once again I was fascinated by French literature, this time the literature of law. I decided that it should be my specialty. I began reading extensively on the subject principally in French and English and started to write in earnest. My articles were not highly original, but in Chinese they were new contributions to an unstudied subject. One by one the essays were published, some in the university journals and some in off-campus publications. As I read, an American name began to appear more and more often, the name of John Cobb Cooper, considered the leading expert in the field, who was at that time associated with the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. I therefore wrote directly to Professor Cooper, who responded with great kindness and consideration. After that we exchanged occasional letters for a year.
A new president came to Taita. Professor Fu Su-nien was an enlightened and liberal refugee scholar, although at times somewhat authoritarian in manner. He showed at once that he was quite aware of the peculiar situation of Formosa and the Formosan people. He publicly stated his belief that Taita must be run eventually by Taiwanese, and this became an accepted university policy. Professor Fu not only tried to recruit Formosan faculty members but set out to cultivate and train younger Formosans already on campus.
Fu was a Peking University man and a good friend of China’s most eminent modern scholar, Dr. Hu Shih. Dr. Hu’s father had held a minor official position in the imperial Chinese administration on Formosa at the close of the Chinese era (1891-1894). Dr. Hu was at this time acting director of the Sino-American Cultural and Educational Foundation, an organization set up to administer the Boxer Indemnity Fund established by the American government in 1908 to generate income to be used to educate Chinese youths. The fund headquarters were in New York.
Through this personal connection, President Fu had secured two fellowships for Taita. One was reserved for a faculty member, and the other was available to a graduating student. Each year the faculty had been invited to apply for one of these. President Fu made it a rule that at least one of the annual recipients must be a Formosan. This rule had just been made when the president died of a heart attack. I felt that I had lost a friend and local sponsor. Nevertheless, in the second year of the program I applied for the faculty Boxer Fund grant, stating that I wished to study air law. To my great pleasure, I received the award.
At once older faculty members challenged the selection, wanting to know why this young Formosan should receive the honor. When Taita’s new president, Professor Chien Shih-liang had to answer such questions before the university administrators, he stated publicly that the selection was correct, and that he believed the results would be good.
When the award had been confirmed, I wrote at once to Mr. Cooper, seeking advice. Where should I go for advanced work in the field of air law? To my delight he answered promptly that McGill University in Montreal was just then establishing an Institute of International Air Law, the first graduate program in the world devoted to the subject. He would be the first director, and he urged me to come to McGill. Montreal had become the most important center for international aviation. The U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization was located there, and it was also the site of the International Air Transport Association, whose members include almost all airlines in the world engaged in scheduled international flight.
In great personal excitement I prepared to leave. At that time few students were leaving the island for study abroad. I had no friends in Canada or the United States to whom I could appeal for advice and information of a private sort. Although I had spent my life reading books about the Western world, I was ignorant of practical matters, Suddenly I found myself about to leave my home and family for a long stay in a distant land. My little son had been born in March, 1950, and was about eighteen months old, the most attractive, lively, and innocent age. It would be very hard to leave him. He had been named Peng Wen. Traditionally in a Chinese family the grandfather chooses names for the grandchildren, and the great majority of Chinese personal names contain two characters. It was quite characteristic of my father, however, to insist that all of his grandchildren have only one in his name. The use of two characters, he said, was nonsense and a waste of time. One character would always he simpler and easier to write and would always take less time. In consequence of his views on this, only two of his many grandchildren, two granddaughters born in Japan, have two characters in their personal names.
In accepting the fellowship and going abroad, the most difficult and painful prospect was that of saying good-bye to my father, the man who was too quick and impatient to waste time writing two characters when one might suffice, and too imaginative to be bound by ancient tradition if a better way of doing something might be found. He was quick-tempered, but we all loved him very deeply and all now realized that he might not have long to live.
He had led an extremely active life between 1945 and 1947, suffering through the dangers arid losses of war and the disenchantment and the dangerous mouths of General Chen Yi’s administration that ended in such disaster. In total disillusionment he had withdrawn altogether from public life and confined himself exclusively to the administration of his clinic. He was more than sixty years of age and his health had begun to fail. Medical examination revealed a greatly enlarged heart and a serious diabetic condition. The doctors gave him only six months to live. Although he was not told this directly, he saw the x-ray photos of his heart and as a professional man drew his own conclusions.
If I was to meet the McGill University requirements for the master’s course, I had to plan to be abroad for at least two years, and we all knew that I could not expect to see my father again. This was a cruel dilemma. It is considered a most unfilial thing for a son to be far away when a father dies, especially if one has left home knowing that this would probably be the case. On the other hand, we knew that it would be technically and financially impossible for me to return to Formosa on sudden call. The Chinese government made no provisions for temporary returns. If I would reenter Formosa for any purpose, my passport would be cancelled and months would be required to obtain a new one.
My father knew all this, and took the position that I had now been given an opportunity I must not miss. He saw that it was professionally unthinkable for one to abandon such an opportunity, and he was aware of my lifelong interest in the Western world which he shared. His deep bitterness toward China and the Chinese carpetbaggers who were our masters how may also have strengthened his desire to have me seize an opportunity to go abroad . Perhaps I could do for my generation on a larger scale what he had been able to do for his when he had seized the opportunity to study medicine at Taipei. It was not simple. Some of our relatives advised me strongly not to go, but Father always countered by urging me not to hesitate. I made the decision as he wished, and began to make my way through red tape and regulations restricting travel abroad at that time. This required many months. I hid been reading arid writing English for fifteen years or more; now for several months I was tutored privately in conversation by a Catholic sister at Taipei.
When all was ready, the passport secured, the dates set, and the time had come to say good-bye, I went south to Kaohsiung to be with my father for the last time. The doctors had forbidden him to move around at home too much and had absolutely forbidden him to travel, so I spent a quiet week with him there. The day come when I had to leave. I took a night train, anti despite our protests, my father insisted upon going to the railway station to say good-bye. Undoubtedly I was doing what he would have liked to do and would have done if such a great opportunity had risen in his youth. For me, however, it seemed an unbearable thought that this might be our last parting.
My mother, my brothers, many colleagues and students came to the airport to see me off. I said good-bye to my little son and to my wife, knowing that they would go now to Kaohsiung to live with my parents. That would give my father great pleasure. After that my son and his grandfather each became the favorite of the other, and since my elder brother had assumed charge of the clinic, my father spent all of his days and evenings with the child in his small home and garden.
I flew to Vancouver by a round-about way, first to Manila, then a few hours in Honolulu, and a night in San Francisco. At Vancouver I decided to save money by taking a train across Canada to Montreal. This would enable me to spend a night en route with a cousin, a theological student, who had a summer job in a small Canadian church in a town along the way.
By now I had discovered that my English was a problem and this embarrassed me. Two young girls aboard the train proved very helpful and very kind, giving me apples to share with them and making me feel more at ease in speaking English. After an overnight stay with my cousin I went on eastward across the vast plains of central Canada. The elaborate dining car menu proved too much of a problem, there were too many choices and too many unfamiliar items, so after one meal I gave up, resorting to sandwiches bought at stops along the way. It was not a happy trip, for I sat hour after hour, passing through a monotonous landscape, thinking always of my father and wondering if my language preparation would be adequate for the program that lay ahead of me.
I reached Montreal in the evening, asked a taxi driver to find me a hotel, and was taken to a rooming house near the McGill campus. There I spent the night, exhausted by tension and worry and the countless new and unfamiliar situations in which I found myself at every turn.
The next morning I went to the law school. Mrs. Phyllis O’Neil, secretary to the dean, welcomed me, and was most kind. Our friendship has continued now for twenty years, but I shall not forget her kindness on that day. The school sessions would not begin for another month, and it was obvious that the rooming house in which I stayed the first night would not do. She found me temporary lodging in the home of a Canadian Japanese family named Yamashita, and then in the next few weeks I finally settled down in the home of a charming elderly French couple living on Beaconsfield Street. It was a small room, but cheap and comfortable, and I enjoyed my hosts and their son. They were a quiet family.
I was desperately homesick and for a time deeply depressed. It was unfortunate that I had to wait a month for classes to begin. I had nothing to divert me except long walks through the city. There was no one with whom I could talk who would understand my background. nor the strength of our family ties. Night after night I wept in my room, thinking of my father, waiting for letters from home, and wondering what news they might contain. I now think of this as one of the saddest, dreariest periods in my life. Everyone was very kind, but I was an outsider.
At last Professor Cooper came to Montreal, students began to appear on the campus, and classes were organized in September. In this first year of the institute, about a dozen enrolled. It was a most cosmopolitan group, including three or four Canadians an American Air Force officer, and an Egyptian representing the Civil Aviation Ministry at Cairo. Germany, Greece, England, and Hungary were represented. We were full of enthusiasm for this was a new field and we were quite aware that we were pioneers and confident of our future. Professor John Cobb Cooper was a self-made man, without a law degree, who had risen through the ranks to become a vice-president of Pan American. He had accepted an invitation to join the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. He and his wife had charming, warm personalities which had helped him in seeking out unusual people and stimulating them to do their best. The faculty was limited in numbers but of high caliber, and under his leadership we quickly developed a remarkable “esprit de corps” and an exciting academic and social life together. We realized that as pioneers we were a rather exclusive group. In that sense I was reminded of my San-San Kai experience at Taita; otherwise the atmosphere of easy and lively discussion within a small group made this quite different from anything I had experienced before. I was the only Asian present that year, an oddity of sorts, for I was a Formosan of Chinese descent who spoke English with a French accent. My French at that time was much better than my English, and many local French-speaking Canadians assumed that I had come from France.
I requested and received permission to prepare my papers in French rather than in English. The first of these, written before Sputnik surprised the world, was concerned with the legal status of space beyond the normal confines of air operations in that day. The ideas presented impressed Cooper who arranged at once to have the paper published in Revue du Barreau de la Provence de Quebec, the journal of the Quebec Bar Association. It was then reprinted in the prestigious Revue Française de Droit Aérien at Paris. This was the only student paper published that year and one of the first in the world ever to touch on the subject. Now, in the days of actual space travel, it is often cited as a pioneering classic in the field.
A second of my papers was then published in Paris, in the Revue General de l’Air. This traced the history of aerial bombardment from the earliest times to the end of the World War II. I had good reason to be especially interested in this subject. I had witnessed the second use of a nuclear bomb at Nagasaki. and every nation was concerned that it should be the last.
I also prepared an article on space law which appeared in Journal of International Law and Diplomacy of the Tokyo University Law School, perhaps the first such article to be published in the Japanese language on this subject. It stirred great interest and roused much comment in academic and legal circles throughout Japan.
Thus in my first year at McGill my three published papers received international recognition. I was working very hard, but I was also now enjoying the social life of our group. My father was still living, and we exchanged letters very often. I was fortunate in my friendships, too. My close friend and cousin-in-law, Liu Chin-sui, was taking his master’s degree in law at the University of Minnesota. By the end of the first year I had come to know and respect my classmate Ian McPherson who had lived in Hong Kong, and had been a bomber-pilot in the Canadian Air Force during World War II, flying in Europe. Hamilton DeSaussure, a Harvard Law School graduate and a pilot in the United States Air Force became another close friend. There were others in this small circle, and we continue our friendship to this day. Mrs. Cooper and Mrs. O’Neil, the dean’s secretary, acted as very gracious hostesses and counselors to us all.
As the first year drew to a close I faced a problem. My Boxer Fund grant could not be renewed according to the regulations, and the Institute program required two years for the master’s degree. In the first year we completed lecture course requirements, and in the second we devoted ourselves to preparing a thesis. Faced with this problem, I decided to write to Dr. Hu Shih in New York. I had never met him, but we had already had an exchange of correspondence, and he had let it be known to others that he was deeply impressed by my record at McGill. My earliest exchange with this eminent and kind-hearted man had been embarrassing to me but had amused him. At Christmas, 1951, my first Christmas abroad, I mailed out many Christmas cards and thought it my proper duty to send one to the acting director of the foundation giving me financial support. This I did, and soon thereafter received a most friendly note of thanks from Dr. Hu. He added, however, that since he was considerably older than I, he would speak frankly and tell me that the card I had sent was one intended to be used in sending a gift of money. I had thought the perforations in the design were merely decoration!
Now, in the spring of 1952, Dr. Hu wrote noting that the rules forbade extensions of the Boxer Fund grant, but that he wished to consult with McGill University authorities and with others to find some means of supporting my studies for a second year. Dr. Hu Shih and Professor Cooper canvassed private sources and applied to several leading airline companies, including Pan American, but without success. Then came a letter from Hu Shih saying that at last he had found someone to finance my second year under exactly the same conditions and in the same amount as the Boxer Fund grant, but that the donor wished to remain anonymous. He then invited me to visit him during the summer holiday.
I took the train for New York. This was my first visit to an American city. I stayed at a Y.M.C.A. for several days and went to call on Dr. Hu, finding him in a modest apartment, surrounded by books. He was a warm and kindly man who made most flattering remarks about my progress at McGill. In passing conversation he mentioned his father’s three-year assignment on government service to Formosa at the end of the nineteenth century. When I left him he gave me several books.
On returning to Montreal I began working on my thesis, a very technical study of the legal status of military aircraft in time of peace and war. This turned out to be a splendid year. To my great joy my father lived on. More than a dozen new students were registered, and again they came from all over the world. The summer weather was warm and humid and the winter was extremely cold, but I was comfortably housed and I was hard at work. At the end of the term I completed my dissertation in French, it was accepted, and I graduated magna cum laude with a master’s degree in law.
Once again I had a problem. What next? My parents joined with the faculty in urging me to go elsewhere for further study, now that I was so well embarked on this specialized career, but where should it be, in the United States or in Europe? Dr. Hu wrote that if I desired to go to the States, he would be glad to recommend me to Princeton. Princeton had no law school, but Dr. Hu thought well of the work being done there in political science. After much thought, I decided I would prefer to go to France, to my old center of interest. I had saved some money from my scholarships, and my father volunteered to put up some money to support my further stay abroad.
I sailed from Canada in July 1953, aboard a slow Italian ship. We had a rough crossing to Southampton, and I was as usual a poor sailor. Nevertheless it was a lively and delightful trip, for many students were aboard the old craft, and on deck one day I met two attractive Stanford University girls with whom I took my meals after that and went to evening shows. On reaching Southampton we went together by train to London. An English friend had secured a hotel room for me, a rather dismal place, from which I set out each day on long sightseeing excursions with the two Stanford girls. On that visit I must admit that I was not very impressed by England, and after a week I flew on to Paris, leaving my friends to come along by channel boat. After staying for a few days in the Maison japonaise in University City, I moved into the Greek dormitory, the Maison hellenique, where half of the residents were from Greece and the other half from all over the world.
A few days after my arrival in Paris, its transportation system was plunged into the biggest strike since the end of the war. The entire city was paralyzed, and my first impression of this great capital was far from the romantic one I had been under since my college days in Japan.
The Stanford girls came from England, rented a room, and set about seeing Paris. I joined them and life was pleasant again. We toured the famous sights, visited the Latin Quarter, the restaurants, and the night clubs, including, of course, the Moulin Rouge. One day as I was strolling by myself in Montparnasse I came suddenly upon an Oriental in the street before me. He appeared to be a beggar, thin, shabby, and barefooted, which was then unusual, even in the Latin Quarter. As he moved along, he casually swung what appeared to be an empty Japanese soy-sauce bottle. As I came abreast of him, he glanced up and then cried out in Japanese, “Ho-kun! My friend Ho! I can’t believe it!”
It was my San-ko classmate Tabuchi who had gone on from the Third Higher School to the Art Department in Kyoto University in 1943. Ten years had passed, the war had intervened, and he was the first and only San-ko classmate I had seen since graduation, and I have seen none other since. We had much to tell one another. He had married in Japan, produced four or five children, and then had abandoned his wife and children to come to Paris, the Mecca of every Japanese artist. He had been in France two or three years and was attempting to make a name for himself as an abstract painter. We went at once to his atelier, four flights up and without running water, where I met his companion, a Norwegian girl. In adjoining rooms was another Japanese, a sculptor.
Soon after that I took my two American friends to visit the atelier and to see a bit of the true bohemian life of the Left Bank. The Norwegian girl seemed to resent the intrusion of these smartly dressed Americans and assumed a bored and condescending attitude. “What are you studying at Stanford?” she asked, “Home economics?” Since these were exceptionally intelligent girls, well informed, and sophisticated, they had good reason to take the snide question as a personal affront.
I enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Paris. I had a heavy schedule, nevertheless I began to enjoy the city tremendously. I met a French girl, a student of music, with whom I went to many concerts and to the theater, and there were other friends among the cosmopolitan student body. On one occasion my friend and colleague Liu appeared, homeward bound around the world after completing his work at the University of Minnesota. We had a splendid week together.
My course work went smoothly and so too did my dissertation, making it possible for me to finish nearly one year earlier than I had anticipated. By mid-summer, 1954, 1 had met all requirements for the degree of Docteur en Droit. When the last details were complete, I left for home. But I left Paris with regret and some sadness, thinking that there might never be another opportunity for me to visit Europe. A number of friends saw me off on the train for Italy. At Genoa I boarded a very new and comfortable Italian ship for the month-long journey to Hong Kong.
As usual, I was seasick most of the time, a prolonged misery relieved only by short trips ashore along the way, Port Said, Aden, Karachi, Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, and Hong Kong. I had been living in the Western world for three years. Each of these brief visits ashore gave me glimpses of people moving from colonial dependency toward independence and nationhood, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Ceylon, and Malaya. In passing through the Straits of Malacca into the South China Sea, I was made keenly aware that I had returned to the East.
Hong Kong brought a brief respite from the unkind sea. There the staff of my brother-in-law’s trading company entertained me lavishly for five days as I waited to take passage to Keelung aboard an antiquated British ship. On this last short run across to Formosa I shared a first-class cabin with an old Chinese gentleman dressed in a simple Chinese gown who at first impressed me as a simple, traditional back-country type. To my surprise he turned out to be a rather distinguished old scholar named Chien Mu, later the first president of a new Chinese university in Hong Kong. For reasons unknown to me he was taken up by General Chiang Ching-kuo and after that treated with great distinction, courtesy, and consideration.
At last we reached Keelung. I was astonished and overjoyed to discover that my father had come from Kaohsiung to greet me, together with my mother, my wife, and my son now nearly five years old. This was the happiest reunion and one of the most exciting moments of my life.