Plunge Pontificates

A place for my thoughts.

email me

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Japan's Colonialism in Taiwan

I've always heard that the colonial period in Taiwan was far more accepted and enjoyed by the people of Taiwan than other areas colonized. Japanese colonial leaders in Korea would constantly compare the ease of life and colonization in Taiwan compared to the difficulties in Korea. This article seems to show a similar feeling among those in Taiwan that lived through that time.

Frank Lin, a Taipei insurance company representative whose parents went to an elite teacher training school set up by the Japanese, says there is no denying the colonialists created a “very good” educational foundation for Taiwan.


Evidence of enthusiasm for things Japanese is easy to find in Taiwan. Many elderly Taiwanese express nostalgia for the more orderly days of the colonial period. Japanese imports and food are highly popular with consumers of all ages.

China’s Tsingtao Brewery has even used kimono-clad actors singing Japanese songs to promote its beer in Taiwan – a strategy that would be seen as arrant treachery on the mainland, where memories remain fresh of the death and destruction caused by Japan’s brutal 1931-45 invasion.


But Beijing’s line also aims to paper over a key reason why many Taiwanese feel relatively positive towards Japanese colonial control: their belief that rule by Chinese from the mainland was worse.

Many older Taiwanese contrast the discipline and order of Japanese colonialists with the arrogance and unpredictability of the troops and officials of the Chinese Kuomintang government that took control of the island following Tokyo’s 1945 surrender.

Bloody suppression of dissent followed the resumption of Chinese rule and, when KMT leaders fled to Taiwan in 1949, they brought a whole ruling class of mainlanders who often looked down on the locals.

“You can say that Taiwanese saw the Japanese as dogs; but at least a dog will protect your property . . . a pig just makes a mess,” says one Taipei resident. “Many older people have good feelings towards the Japanese but not towards mainlanders.”

Fascinating article, I'm going to have to read more about this period of time in Taiwan.