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Chapter 11 Holding Water in Bamboo Buckets Agricultural Science, Livestock Breeding, and Veterinary Medicine in Colonial Manchuria Robert John Perrins A bitter Siberian wind greeted delegates as they arrived at the army supply depot on the outskirts of the Manchurian port city of Dairen just after noon on 26 January 1914.Once inside the compound’s main office building , the twenty scientists and administrators were ushered into a makeshift meeting room where the station’s military commander welcomed them to what was to be the inaugural meeting of the South Manchuria Veterinary Association (Nan Manshū jūi kyōkai).1 Over the course of the half-day conference, the representatives from the various branches of the Japanese colonial administration listened to more than a half-dozen presentations of scientific and public health papers before concluding their meeting with a discussion of the need to coordinate their efforts on a number of fronts. To this end, it was decided that several branches of the colonial system, including the Kwantung Government-General (Kantō-tōtokufu);2 the regional garrison of the Kwantung Army (Kantō-gun);3 the South Manchuria Railway Company (Mantetsu);4 and municipal police forces in the cities of Dairen, Ryōjun (Port Arthur), Mukden,Andong, and Jinzhou would cooperate on a number of projects, including the prevention and monitoring  | Robert John Perrins of animal diseases in the region, as well as sharing research on both animal diseases and the development of improved breeds of livestock.5 The veterinarians, biologists, police officers, physicians, and railway managers who were in attendance at this meeting were keenly aware of the pressing need for such action, having just heard a lengthy report on the outbreak of cattle plague, or rinderpest, that had been presented by the veterinary surgeon attached to the Japanese consulate in the city of Andong on the Manchurian–Korean border.6 Both the content and tone of this report struck a nerve with the colonial officials attending the conference . The audience was told how rinderpest had first appeared in eastern Jilin Province and how it had moved steadily toward the Manchurian–Korean border between the spring of 1912 and the summer of 1913. The author of the paper confidently, but erroneously, claimed that the disease had been transported down the Hun and Yalu rivers by Chinese boatmen who had purchased meat of diseased cattle in the remote interior and who had then somehow transmitted the illness to healthy animals during their travels. Almost twenty thousand cattle had died during the outbreak, and there were fears that the situation would worsen as the weather began to warm in the spring and the herds of local cattle began to intermix as they moved from their winter shelters to new grazing lands. While the disease had been stamped out on the Korean side of the Yalu, due to the combination of a vigorous rural surveillance system and a mandatory vaccination program for all cattle in the new Japanese colony, the situation in Manchuria, the audience was warned, was not as promising. The reason given for the continued threat of the disease was the “callousness of the Chinese”authorities and farmers who were resisting both the inspection and vaccination of their livestock.7 The health of the region’s livestock and the local rural economy were threatened with ruin, the veterinarian from Andong argued, unless the colonial authorities began to coordinate their efforts in the battle against cattle plague.8 Reflecting on this epizootic crisis just over a decade later, Dr. Kasai Katsuhiro, one of the region’s leading veterinarians and the founding superintendent of the South Manchuria Railway Company ’s Cattle Disease Institute in Mukden (Hōten jūeki kenkyūjo), lamented that any efforts to improve the rural economy or develop better livestock breeds during this period had been almost useless and akin to“trying to hold water in a bamboo bucket.”9 Kasai’s pessimistic assessment of this period was due to the prevalence of not only livestock diseases such as rinderpest, glanders ,bovine pleuropneumonia10 and sheep pox11 in southern Manchuria but also to what he believed to be the ignorance,fear,and resistance to change on the part of most of the region’s Chinese population. Holding Water in Bamboo Buckets |  The Japanese administrators and scientists who attended the conference on that cold January afternoon in 1914, however, were not resistant to change or suspicious of “modern” science. In fact, by the time the inaugural meeting of the colonial veterinary...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780821443101
Related ISBN
9780821418857
MARC Record
OCLC
681350866
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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