The Establishment of Chang Hwa Bank and the History of the Bank’s Headquarters
Chang Hwa Bank was jointly funded and established in Meji 38 (1905) by a total of 1,058 gentry from central Taiwan, including Wu Ju-Hsiang, Wu Te-kung, and Ku Hsien-jung. Sakamoto Soroya, a Japanese national, was appointed as the Bank’s procurator (general manager).
Chang Hwa Bank was founded at a time when the Governor-General of Taiwan was revamping Taiwan’s policies on property leasing rights and taxation. During Qing China's rule, the rights to many properties began to be owned by multiple proprietors at the same time. The first settler, also deemed the “owner” of the land,
was the initial investor who would recruit tenants to cultivate his land and then lease his land out to farmers called “primary tenants” for a fixed annual fee. These primary tenants were in turn allowed to rent their allotted land out to other farmers or “secondary tenants” whose rights were similar to those of today’s sublandlords.
As time passed and properties continued to be pawned or sold off to others, tenancy rights shifted over the generations. Ownership rights ultimately became so complicated and ambiguous that government administrations were often at a loss as to whom taxes should be collected from. During the Qing dynasty, when Liu Ming-chuan was laying down the foundation for Taiwan’s modern infrastructure, it became evident that funds needed to be procured through Taiwan’s property taxes. After Liu took stock of the land tax system, he directed the formulation of policies and decreed that 40% of the rent secondary tenants paid to their primary tenants shall be collected by the government in other words, primary tenants only received 60% of the rent they imposed on their tenants. This regulatory change, however, also meant they were no longer under the obligation to pay property taxes. Liu Ming-chuan's policies stipulated that the rent paid by secondary tenants to the government was considered property tax, inadvertently converting secondary tenants into co-proprietors of these lands.
The Governor-General of Taiwan under Japanese rule was equally troubled by this issue of ambiguous ownership between primary and secondary tenants, and sought to eliminate problems caused by old policies for good while building upon the system of secondary tenant proprietorship created by Liu Ming-chuan. In Meiji 37 (1904), the Governor-General proclaimed a decree addressing the property rights of primary tenants in which government bonds (30-year repayment period at an interest rate of 5% per annum) were issued to purchase these rights from them, thus establishing secondary tenants as the sole proprietors of their lands and making official their obligations as taxpayers.
However, even after receiving the government compensation bonds, the original primary tenants remained dissatisfied and insecure to the point of causing social unrest. This was because the concept of government bonds was new to theTaiwanese people. With the Japanese fighting in the ongoing Russo-Japanese War, the Taiwanese public were doubtful as to whether they would be able to receive their repayments within 30 years as promised. In the blink of an eye, payments were cut back and bonds were dumped, striking a major blow to the authority and trustworthiness of the Governor-General of Taiwan. In response to this turn of events, the Governor-General began to buy back compensation bonds from primary tenants to stabilize the face value of the bonds and restore the trust of the people. At the same time, they actively persuaded the Taiwanese gentry to use these bonds as mortgages to obtain loans from banks for establishing all varieties of business. This was the chain of events that led to the establishment of Chang Hwa Bank.
Chang Hwa Bank was initially housed in the administrative offices of Changhua Prefecture when it was first incepted in Meiji 38 (1905), evidencing the strong
government support it received. There the Bank remained until renovations for its new business location were completed in Meiji 40 (1907). Due to a reform in the local administrative system in Meiji 42 (1909), the main hub of central Taiwan’s affairs was relocated to Taichung. In response, Chang Hwa Bank purchased the school buildings of Taichung Middle School and remodeled them into the Taichung Branch (agency) for collecting the local taxes of Taichung Prefecture. In the following year, the Bank’s shareholders elected to relocate Headquarters from Changhua to Taichung, and renamed Chang Hwa Bank’s original head offices as Chang Hwa Branch. Chang Hwa Bank thus came to be based in Taichung despite the fact that its name suggests otherwise.
In Showa 10 (1935), in celebration of Chang Hwa’s 30th anniversary, the Bank’s shareholders elected to build a grand new structure to serve as Headquarters. This new building would eliminate pressing issues such as insufficient space for business operations and be at the same time of great commemorative value. In the following year, in coordination with its construction schedule, Chang Hwa Bank constructed temporary offices and commissioned Governor-General engineers Shirakura Yoshio and Hatakeyama Kisaburo to design the blueprints for its new headquarters. In Showa 11 (1936), construction for the new headquarters began at its current location under Tatsujirou Satou’s supervision, and was completed in Showa 13 (1938) the Bank reopened for business shortly thereafter. These premises are now the third and current location of Chang Hwa Bank’s Headquarters.
Lin Xian-tang, The Father of Post-War Chang Hwa Bank
Lin Xian-tang (1881-1956), given name Chao-chen, courtesy name Xian-tang, style name Guan-yuan, was born in Wufeng, Taichung. Famous for leading the Taiwanese nationalism movement during Japanese rule, his was throughout his entire life closely connected with Chang Hwa Bank, holding related positions within the bank for almost 46 years.
He became a shareholder of the Bank in Meiji 41 (1908) thereafter, he was appointed as a statutory auditor in Meiji 44 (1911) and began to partake in the operative plans of Chang Hwa Bank. He then became an iconic figure among the Taiwanese shareholders of Chang Hwa Bank, and was considered to be equal in status to his Japanese counterpart and competitor, Soroya Sakamoto. For instance, in a board of directors’ meeting held in Showa 11 (1936), Soroya Sakamoto recommended that his younger brother, Nobumichi Sakamoto, join their ranks. Lin Xian-tang immediately quipped back, saying, “The people already refer to Chang Hwa Bank as the Sakamoto Bank would you enforce this name further until it becomes exactly that?” And so, the proposition was dropped.
After the war, the Republic of China took control of Taiwan. Deposits made by the Japanese within the bank were expropriated as Japanese property, and the board of directors established the “Chang Hwa Commercial Bank Preparatory Office” in 1946 with Lin Xian-tang as its director. On February 28 of the following year (1947), the shareholders’ meeting was established, and the board elected Lin Xian-tang as chairman. Chang Hwa was subsequently restructured on March 1 and became a joint-stock provincial bank.
The day of the shareholders’ meeting of 1947 was coincidentally the day on which the February 28 Incident broke out. Yen Chia-kan, then chief of the Finance Department, happened to come to Taichung to attend the Chang Hwa Bank shareholders’ meeting with plans to visit Sun Moon Lake afterwards. The next day, however, the uprising had already spread to central Taiwan. With the roads blocked off and a fear of being targeted as a government official from a different province, he made his way to Lin Xian-tang’s home in Wufeng and took refuge there.
Unfortunately, news of Lin Xian-tang sheltering a foreign government official spread. Angry civilians surrounded the Lin residence and wrecked Yen Chia-kan’s car while some even attempted to break into the house. Lin Xian-tang then came forth, urging the mob to stand down in an extremely controlled and calm manner. Yen Chia-kan accepted sanctuary from the Lin family, and it wasn’t until March 12 that the uprising was quelled, after which Lin Xian-tang asked his second son, Lin Yu-lung, to escort Yen back north.
Although Lin Xian-tang was a firm defender of the foreign officials during the February 28 Incident and even offered his assistance in dealing with the aftermath of violence, he was viewed as a hindrance to the Nationalist government to the point where he was listed at the very top of “The February 28 Incident Register of Traitors.” He was eventually taken off the register, but continued to dispute the many autocratic policies of the Nationalist government. In 1949, he was even discreetly requested to voluntarily resign from his position as chairman of Chang Hwa Bank. Ultimately, in September of the same year, Lin Xian-tang set off for Japan
for treatment of alleged health problems, where he turned to the General Headquarters of the Allied occupation of Japan to seek asylum as a political refugee and was subsequently granted long-term residence. In 1952, he resigned from his position of chairman at Chang Hwa Bank and became one of the Bank’s high-level consultants, remaining as such until his passing.
Although he was generally known as the leader of the Japanese resistance, Lin Xian-tang remained in Japan for the better part of his later years, as if in sharp criticism of the Nationalist government’s hypocritical ways. Even though the government sent many representatives to urge Lin Xian-tang to return to Taiwan, he could not be persuaded. This continued until the government sent Cai Pei-huo, Lin Xian-tang’s comrade in the resistance, to Japan in 1955 to coax him into compliance. Cai Pei-huo’s insistent pestering eventually angered Lin Xian-tang into proclaiming:
Enter not a nation of danger dwell not in a nation of strife. Forget not this harsh lesson instilled in us by our venerated forefathers. Taiwan is a nation of danger and strife, a place we shall not enter nor dwell within. Not only is it a place of peril and conflict, but also one devoid of all law and order where Chiang Kai-shek takes life and property at his will and pleasure. Should I ever return to this godforsaken land, I shall be no better than a caged chicken ready for slaughter.
In the face of Lin Xian-tang’s brutal wrath, Cai Pei-huo had no choice but to make a hasty retreat. Those who lived through the tragedies engendered by the Order of Martial law were truly “caged birds.” In 1956, Lin Xian-tang died of illness in Japan. Yen Chia-kan saw to it that he was the one to personally meet Lin’s coffin when it was transported back to Taiwan and attended his funeral from start to finish in commemoration of their camaraderie and all the trials they had faced together.
 Referenced from the Taiwanese Journal Archive of the Academia Sinica. “The Diary of Mister Guan-yuan,” October 14, 1955. Link: https://goo.gl/1JfwbV, accessed: December 3, 2017.
文化城中城歷史現場 - 彰化銀行創設與總行沿革
- 市府分類： 文化藝術
- 最後異動日期： 2022-07-12
- 發布日期： 2019-04-19
- 發布單位： 臺中市政府文化局
- 點閱次數： 100