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Was Taiwan part of Japan?

Taiwan and Japan

Was Taiwan part of Japan?

Taiwan was once part of Japan

For about 50 years, from 1895 to 1945, China handed Taiwan over to Japan in defeat. These 50 years were the period of Japanese rule, but unlike Korea , which was also a Japanese colony, you do not hear many negative opinions about Japan during this period in Taiwan. It is often said that during these  50 years, Japan made various contributions to Taiwan. In Taiwan today, there are many statues and monuments honoring the Japanese who made significant contributions during the Japanese colonial period, and there is little historical interpretation that denies the 50 years of Japanese rule.

Japan built railroads, roads, and harbors in Taiwan and developed the country’s transportation system. The smooth distribution of goods had a major impact on the development of Taiwan’s economy. Then there was the construction of dams. The construction of water utilization facilities helped alleviate the shortage of water for agriculture. In addition to this, efforts were also made to improve crops, which improved the taste of the local rice in Taiwan and contributed greatly to the development of Taiwanese agriculture. Several Japanese are honored in Taiwan today as “contributors to Taiwan’s development.”

In terms of education, they tried to assimilate Taiwanese children into Japan through schooling, so they sent Taiwanese children to elementary school. Taiwanese who received Japanese education (currently elderly people in their 80s) can speak Japanese.Many Taiwanese have a good impression of Japan.

・During the Japanese colonial period, a large number of Japanese immigrated to Taiwan, mainly bureaucrats, policemen, and tradesmen, and the number had increased from about 60,000 in 1905 to 200,000 in 1927, three years before the Kirishima Incident.

Japanese occupation

In 1895 The island of Taiwan along with the Penghu Islands became a dependency of Japan. This took place when the when the Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan prefecture. This was done at the treaty of Shimonoseki following the Japanese victory in the first Sino-Japanese war. At first there was some resistance particularly from the Republic of Formosa resistance movement but the rebellion was quickly suppressed by Japanese troops bringing an end to organized resistance against the Japanese occupation. Japan ruled over Taiwan for five decades with Taihoku being the administrative capital under the Governor-General of Taiwan. Everything started in 1894 when Japan and China went to war because of mutual and conflicting interests in Korea. That war was easily won by Japan which then led to the treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 after the war ended and that treaty included a provision wherein the Penghu Islands as well as the island of Taiwan is ceded to Japan in perpetuity. China was not happy with this arrangement even though the treaty was considered to be legal and binding by the western powers.

A Japanese colony

Taiwan was in fact the first colony of Japan and was widely seen as an important first step on the part of Japan to implement their Southern Expansion Doctrine which were initiated in the late 19th century. Japan had plans to turn Taiwan into a model colony and in the process Taiwan’s economy benefitted, as well as industries, public works, etc. In 1945 during World War 2 the administrative rule of Japan over Taiwan came to an end at which time Taiwan was placed under the control of the Republic of China. However, it was only in April 1952 that Japan formally renounced its sovereignty over Taiwan with the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco. When Japan was about to take control in 1895 some of the local leaders of Japan proclaimed the Republic of Taiwan which was to be Asia’s first republic but unfortunately it lasted only 10 days since there was no central government and too many warring warlords so that many people were of the opinion that Japanese rule would be better. At this stage Taiwan had no military and also no recognized leader.

Determined Japan

At all costs Japan was committed and determined to have Taiwan as a colony and that is why from the start it was very firm with any opposition on the island of Taiwan. During the early stages of the Japanese occupation, Taiwan was ruled by the Japanese military but this was ceased after only three years. Actually, Japan’s first experiment with colonialization was quite successful with the establishment of order, building infrastructure, eradicating disease and establishing a modern economy. Because of Japan’s efforts Taiwan became the most advanced place in East Asia outside Japan itself. Before Japanese occupation Taiwan only had about 30 miles of railway track but this was extended to 300 miles within a decade. From the start Japan focused on agriculture resulting in improved rice production because of advanced farming techniques.



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