Chapter Three: Legacies of Japan’s Colonial Rule

3.1 Social Identity

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Chapter Three: Legacies of Japan’s Colonial Rule

3.1 Social Identity

Taiwan is a country filled with many memories and footprints of the past, leaving evidence which if explored can tell a great story. In order to test if historical and collective experience has an impact on people’s national identity on the island, we will review the history of Taiwan beginning with the Japanese colonization era. Japanese colonial rule from 1845 to 1945 engraved crucial marks on Taiwan’s overall development in the past century. Being almost an alien island from the dynasty of China, the island of Taiwan did not receive adequate attention from the Mainland until late Ming Dynasty.

Yet, the succeeding Qing Dynasty continued to ignore the salience of the island. Taiwan was dispensable on the political agenda of Qing Dynasty as Qing China was defeated by Japan in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894. Nonetheless, remote political connections between Mainland and Taiwan did not obstruct the islander’s social and cultural attachments from their motherland. The political and sovereign departure from the Mainland had created a new chapter of the island’s transition following Japan’s half – century colonial rule.

These historical imprints have bred the seed of a complex formation of identity for the islanders. As Copper suggests, “Taiwan’s past is often cited as evidence for both those who advocate that is part of China, or should be, and those who do not” (Copper, 2009:29). The Japanese colonization era represents disrupt of a broad socio-political connection between China and Taiwan for half century (1895-1945). Scholars have identified that Taiwan’s history and social identity was deeply impacted by Japanese colonialism as “Taiwan’s unique Japanese colonial history is a historical period most consequential to the formation of the complex identity of the island” (Liao & Wang, 2006:

416). Indeed, Japanese influence continues to be prominent even in Taiwanese society at present time. Consequently, it is necessary to examine how this era has given rise to the understanding of the concept of social and national consciousness in Taiwan.

During this time we will study whether the society experienced an evolution in their social, political, and cultural identities. The timeframe of Japanese colonization marks the origin of social identity evolution in Taiwan. At the beginning of the Japanese

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colonial rule, Taiwanese saw themselves as Chinese and viewed the Japanese as a threat.

In 1894 China and Japan declared war on each other, over an interest in Korea. The war did not cease until 1895 when Japan won. As part of Japanese victory, Taiwan was ceded to Japan. As discussed in the previous section, social identity is a relational term, defining who we are as a function of our similarities and differences with others. It is shared with others and provides a basis for shared social action which the people already living in Taiwan took as the news of being ruled by a new foreign government reached them. It was seen that many Taiwanese disagreed with the agreements made between the Qing China and Japan. On account of this disagreement, they started a movement towards independence which was established as the “Republic of Taiwan”. This was the first time in Taiwan history for collective action which, “characterized a strong sense of solidarity and consciousness” (Lee, 2004: 4). However, the effort of this new republic was unable to consolidate due to Japanese military predominance and the lack of resources to overpower Japan in the island.

Taiwanese were disappointed with the Treaty of Shimonoseki which transferred Taiwan to Japan. The transfer of control gave the local Taiwanese (aborigines and Chinese population living there) a sense of abandonment and betrayal by mainland China.

However, the Treaty later led to a period of social reconstruction and the reframe of social discourses, through change in regime, history texts, and language. As Taiwan had been an island of aboriginals and bandits for many centuries, the new Japanese power gave an imagined sense of solutions to problems like piracy, education deficit and lack of infrastructure in Taiwan. After securing its control over Taiwan, the first actions taken by Japan as a colonial power was to promote economic development and the modernization of agriculture. Japanese government had set the agenda of encouraging the productivity of rice in the north part of the island and the productivity of sugar in the south. (Copper, 2009: 39). The increase in agricultural production provided Taiwan with enough revenue which allowed Japanese government to upgrade Taiwan’s infrastructure, as well as allowed the people to feed themselves on this surplus of rice and sugar, bringing the evolution of a new social order.

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Japanese rule not only brought economic change but also political and social change. Japan’s reform in the education system increased the people’s literacy rate, and hygiene awareness. One of the most notable features of Japanese rule in Taiwan was the top-down nature of social change, most of the economic, social and cultural change was driven by technocrats in the colonial government. The primary economic policy of the colonial government was “industry for Japan, agriculture for Taiwan” (Huang, 2005).

The economic focus differed from 1900 to after 1930, from sugar to rice and later to pursue industrialization due to different colonial needs throughout this period. Although the main focus of each of these periods differed, the primary goal was increasing Taiwan’s productivity to satisfy demand with Japan. As part of this process, new ideas, concepts and values were introduced to the Taiwanese. As the economy grew, society also stabilized. Public education became a great social stabilizing factor in Taiwan.

Although secondary education was restricted for Japanese, primary education had a compulsory impact on Taiwanese society.

At that time, education in Taiwan was also improving and becoming increasingly widespread. Consequently, there was a growing awareness of self-determination and equality among the Taiwanese people. To cope with this new situation, the Japanese turned to a policy of assimilation, claiming that Taiwan was an extension of the Japanese homeland, and professing to grant equal treatment to Taiwanese and Japanese, which would give Taiwanese rights under Japanese codes. Slogans such as “same education for the homeland and Taiwan, legitimization of Japanese and Taiwanese marriages, and Japan and Taiwan are one entity” (Huang, 2005) were seen. While Taiwanese struggled to become “Japanese”, they became more eager as a society. These efforts from the Japanese elites to settle the eagerness of the Taiwanese people had limited success, due to the differing expectations and demands from both sides.

Relatively speaking, unlike the Dutch and Portuguese colonial policies which treated Taiwan mainly as a place for resource-extraction, Japanese colonial governance went much further. It was an unprecedented experience for Taiwanese that original identity was encountered with a competing new one. The pre-existed Chinese social identity was encountered with a new Japanese social interaction. Equally important, the

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Japanese legacies on the evolving of islanders’ social identity were not solely a liability, though negatives were certainly more positives. The governance did not only showed compulsory resource-extraction and political assimilation but also brought basic socio- economic infrastructure and educational framework on the island. The outcomes would thus mixed as Taiwanese had the opportunities, voluntarily or involuntarily, to reconsider the new shape of society different from motherland China.

在文檔中 臺灣民眾國家認同的發展:1895年到2000年 - 政大學術集成 (頁 25-28)