Period of Japanese rule (Taiwan) (日本統治時代 (台湾))

The period of Japanese rule of Taiwan refers to approximately fifty years during which time Taiwan was governed by Japan as colony from April 17, 1895 when the Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan to Imperial Japan due to the defeat of the Sino-Japanese War to October 25, 1945 when Taiwan was put under the rule of the Republic of China.

In Taiwan, the period of Japanese rule is called by different names such as "日本時代","日治時代","日據時代","日本統治時期" or "日本殖民時期", depending upon the political positions or historic perspectives, and "日據時代" implies a criticism of Japanese rule.

Policies during the early period of Japanese rule

The period between May 1895 and the Silaian Incident in 1915 is classified as the first phase of Japanese rule. During this period the Taiwan Sotoku-fu (Government-General) took a hard-line policy backed up by military force, which caused the growth of resistant movements among the people in Taiwan. Such policy with use of force created victims as well as caused public interest in and outside of Japan, so the 1897 session of the Imperial Diet debated whether Japan should sell Taiwan to France for 100 million yuan. Under these circumstances, the post of Governor-General of Taiwan was held by military officers ranking Chujo (Middle Captain) or higher to govern Taiwan.

Gentaro KODAMA, who assumed the fourth Governor-General in 1898, promoted Shinpei GOTO, a bureaucrat of the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs (in Japan) as Chief of Home Affairs, taking the carrot and stick approach toward the governance of Taiwan. After the anti-Japanese movement was put down at the end of 1902, the Sotoku-fu became an entity not subject to Japanese law and the special governance approach was adopted.

In the early period of Japanese rule, there were two types of approaches to rule Taiwan. One is the special governance approach represented by Shinpei GOTO and others. Goto, who was inclined towards scientific imperialism of Germany, claimed that it was difficult to assimilate the natives of colonies from a biological viewpoint and that Japan should follow the British colonial policies; the colony outside Japan should not be subject to Japanese law and should be governed under a special approach independent from Japan. Goto conducted research on Taiwanese society and customs and formulated the governance policy based upon research results to establish biological principles as well as to seek eventual assimilation.

The opposing view was held by Takashi HARA, who advocated "inland territorial expansionism." Hara, who was influenced by French colonialism, claimed that it was possible to assimilate Taiwan to Japan as Taiwanese were similar enough to Japanese in race and culture, and that Japan should treat Taiwan as a part of Japan and apply the Japanese law to Taiwan.

Shinpei GOTO, who served as Chief of Home Affairs from 1898 to 1906, introduced the governing policy of Taiwan based upon his own special governance. During the period, the Governor-General of Taiwan was authorized 'special legislative power' in accordance with the Law No. 63, and had the centralized authority with administrative, legislative, judicial and military powers. Such strong ruling power contributed to the suppression of any anti-Japanese movements and thus contributed to the stability and safety of the Taiwanese society.

The measures to be especially noted were measures against opium. In order to eliminate opium that was prevailing at that time, the government introduced a licensing system for smoking opium and a monopoly of opium to gradually increase the tax and to stop the issue of new licenses for opium, thus succeeding to get rid of opium from Taiwan (Policy to phase out opium). Therefore, there are different opinions about the ruling by Japan as follows; one opinion is that the infrastructure of Taiwan, such as education, people's livelihood, military and economy, was based upon one built by Japan at that time (Teng-hui LEE and others) and other opposing opinions are that overestimating the role of Japan in modernization leads to a justification for colonial rule, Japan imposed an agriculture-centered policy to make Taiwan a supply source of agricultural products to Japan and it resulted in delaying industrial development and the wealth of Taiwan was deprived by Japanese merchants Taiwan (Illustrated History of Taiwan, Illustration of Taiwanese History).

Inland territorial expansionism period (1915-1937)

The second phase of Japanese rule was from 1915 when the Silaian Incident broke out to 1937 when the Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred, during which time the authority of colonialism by the Western countries fell and nationalism emerged due to the change of the world situation, especially after World War I. Self-determination based upon democracy and freedom became a mainstream of the world, and the principle of self-determination advocated by Woodrow Wilson and the colonial revolutionism by Vladimir Lenin had a great influence on colonies in the world. In such changing world affairs, the Japanese governance policy of Taiwan was also changing.

In the 1910s, a new stream of politics was born in Japan. It was Taisho Democracy which objected to domain dominated politics and tried to realize party politics. In such political environment, Kenjiro DEN was appointed as the first civilian Governor-General of Taiwan in 1919. Prior to his departure, Den conferred with then-Prime Minister Takashi HARA, with whom he agreed to pursue an assimilation approach in Taiwan as a principle policy, and formally announced the new policy in October of the year when he assumed the position. Den stated that an assimilation policy was inland territorial expansionism and that the Taiwanese would be educated to understand their role and responsibilities as Japanese subjects loyal to the Imperial family.

The Governor-General of Taiwan promoted the assimilation policy for the next twenty years, policy which included an establishment of an elected advisory committee to expand autonomy, the introduction of non-segregation to educational institutions, an issuance of the intermarriage act, a demolishment of flogging as criminal punishment, encouraging the study of the Japanese language in order to promote assimilation as well as to decrease discrimination of Taiwanese. The government changed the hands-off approach taken by Shinpei GOTO and actively introduced railway and water systems and promoted assimilation policies.

As a notable event in the social history of Taiwan, Xiantang LIN, who was born into a renowned wealthy family in Wufong, Taichung, founded Taiwan Dokakai (Taiwan Assimilation Society) in collaboration with Taisuke ITAGAKI visiting Taiwan, to demand the same right with the Japanese residents in Taiwan. However, soon after Itagaki left Taiwan, Taiwan Dokakai was disbanded by the Sotoku-fu.

After that the Keihatsukai (The Enlightenment Society) was founded aiming at repealing Law No. 63 that allowed the centralized privileged of the Sotoku-fu, followed by Shinminkai (New People 's Society) formed after the Keihatsukai was disbanded. However, when intellectuals criticized this movement, saying that repealing Law No. 63 meant the denial of the special character of Taiwan, the new movement was initiated to call for the establishment of a parliament in Taiwan. In 1921, the first petition to establish a Taiwan parliament was submitted to the Imperial Diet of Japan and the deliberations on its establishment continued for the next thirteen years for a total of fifteen times.

In 1921, the Taiwan Cultural Association was organized with Xiantang LIN as president, aiming at developing Taiwanese culture. The Taiwan Cultural Association developed the enlightening movement for the public by organizing lectures or showing movies. In 1927, however, the left wing took control of the association and the right wing withdrew from the association, which incident resulted in a split of the social movement in Taiwan. The Taiwan Cultural Association came virtually under the control of the Taiwanese Communist Party and fell apart at the same time with the arrest of the Taiwanese Communist Party members.

The right wing, who left the Taiwan Cultural Association, later formed the Taiwan People's Party. However, when the Taiwan People's Party also became radical initiated by Weishui JIANG, the right wing formed the Taiwanese Federation for Local Autonomy with the establishment of local autonomy in Taiwan as a single goal.
When in 1937, the Taiwanese Federation for Local Autonomy, which was the last political organization during the period of Japanese rule, was forced to shut down, which incident marked the end of political movements by 'Taiwanese.'

Kominka (Subjects of the Emperor) movement (1937 - 1945)

When the Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred in 1937, Taiwan was regarded as an important resource supply base for Japan to develop the war. Because the Sotoku-fu needed to improve Taiwanese awareness as the Japanese, it started to promote the kominka (subjects of the emperor) policy. The kominka movement was the forced transformation of the Taiwanese into loyal subjects of the emperor, consisting of the four major campaigns: the encouragement to speak Japanese, the change of names to Japanese names, the military volunteer system and the religious, social and life style reforms. The background of this movement was that a prolonged war caused the Japanese human resources to be exhausted and that Japan had no choice but to rely on the colonies.

The kokugo (literally national language) movement was a thorough movement to make the Taiwanese use Japanese, whereby Japanese language schools were established throughout Taiwan and a Japanese speaking home was encouraged. A Japanese speaking home, in which family members spoke Japanese even at home, was the ultimate goal of the kokugo movement. In the process, the use of Taiwanese, Hakka and aboriginal languages was discouraged or prohibited.

Though the change of family names was not forced, many Taiwanese changed their family names as it was advantageous to enhance social status.

As Japan was fighting a war with China, many objected to accept the Taiwanese of the Han race as soldiers, but the shortage of soldiers caused the government to introduce the volunteer soldier system and then the draft system in 1945. Almost 210,000 people (including civilian war workers) participated in the war, of them 30,000 people died.

Furthermore, the religion and life style of Taiwan was 'improved' to the Japanese style. Temples and mausoleums were destroyed or converted into the Shinto shrines (rearranging temples and mausoleums). Chinese marriages and funerals were forced to change to the Japanese Shinto style of marriage or temple funerals.

On October 1, 1937, the Taipei time/Western standard time (UTC +8) was abolished and unified to Tokyo time/Japan standard time (UTC +9). (The original standard time was revived in September 1945).

These movements were short term and failed to take root in Taiwan, but this would be one of the reasons that the Taiwanese society was more Japanized than other Chinese societies such as Hong Kong or Singapore controlled by Japan, but not subject to the thorough kominka movement.

Japan's defeat and the Republic of China's seizure of Taiwan

On August 15, 1945 the Pacific War ended with Japan issuing the imperial rescript on the termination of the war and Taiwan was to be seized by the Republic of China. On August 29 of the same year, Kai Shek CHIANG, the head of the nationalist government, appointed Yi CHEN as governor of Taiwan province, and with the establishment of Taiwan Security Bureau on September 1, Chen served concurrently as Commander of Taiwan Security. Then on October 5, the front commander office of Taiwan provincial administration office was established, and the personnel for seizure moved to Taiwan from Shanghai and Chongqing from October 5 to October 24.

At 10 o'clock in the morning of October 25, 1945, the ceremony of the surrender of Japan to Taiwan Province, China wartime administrative region, was held at Taipei City Hall. Rikichi ANDO, then Governor-General of Taiwan and Yi CHEN were present representing Japan and China, respectively, and signed a surrender instrument, after which Taiwan province administrative office officially started to work on the control of Taiwan. The administrative office was established in the former Taipei municipal office (today's Executive Yuan of the Republic of China) and with Yi CHEN, Jing-en GE, Yuan-fen KE, Chao-qin HUANG, Mi-jian YOU, Fei-ju SUNG and Wan-ju LI representing the National government, Xiantang LIN, Xin CHEN and Mao-sheng LIN on behalf of the residents of Taiwan and Rikichi ANDO and Haruki ISAYAMA representing Japan, the ruling of Taiwan by Japan ended.

Sotoku-fu of Taiwan

The Taiwan Sotoku-fu was the highest governing authority in Taiwan during the period of Japanese rule, and it was headed by a Governor-General of Taiwan. The Sotoku-fu, characterized by the highly centralized system with the Governor-General wielding supreme executive, legislative, judicial and military power, governed Taiwan dictatorially.


In its early days, the Sotoku-fu was composed of three bureaus: Home Affairs, Army, and Navy. The Home Affairs Bureau was further divided into four offices: Internal Affairs, Agriculture, Finance and Education, and Tomonosuke TAKASHIMA was appointed as Vice Governor-General when the Republic of Formosa existed on Taiwan. In 1896, the army and navy bureaus were merged to form the Military Affairs Bureau, and the General Affairs, Judicial and Communication Bureaus were separated from the Home Affairs Bureau, which separation resulted in the establishment of the seven-bureau system. Since then, the system of the Sotoku-fu was changed three times in 1898, 1901, and 1919, but the organizational structure was maintained.


The law relating to laws and ordinances to be enforced in Taiwan (Law No. 63) enacted in 1896, the amended law (Law No. 31) in 1906 and the third amended law (Law No. 3) in 1921, enforced delegated legislation in Taiwan, and the Sotoku-fu was positioned as the central authority. General governmental policies were issued by the Sotoku-fu in the form of an edict of the Sotoku-fu after the Sotoku-fu bureaucrats formulated laws and ordinances. Some of the policies such as the introduction of monopoly required a conference with the Japanese government in advance and authorization by the Diet.

During 1895 to 1945, 19 governors-general of Taiwan were appointed. The period can be divided based on the background of the Governor-General: the early period of military governor-general, the period of civilian governor-general and the later period of military governor-general, and the tenure of each was two years and a half on average.

The Governors-General in the early days included Sukenori KABAYAMA, Taro KATSURA, Maresuke NOGI, Gentaro KODAMA, Samata SAKUMA, Sadami ANDO and Motojiro AKASHI. Among them, Sadami ANDO and Motojiro AKASHI carried out the policies to protect Taiwanese interests, and Akashi was buried in Taiwan after his death.

The civilian period occurred at roughly the same time as the Taisho Democracy, and the Governors-General during this period were nominated by political parties in Japan. The Governors-General appointed from 1919 to 1937 included Kenjiro DEN, Kakichi UCHIDA, Takio IZAWA, Mitsunoshin KAMIYAMA, Eizo ISHIZUKA, Masahiro OTA, Hiroshi MINAMI and Kenzo NAKAGAWA. During their tenures, the government changed their governance policy from the suppression of anti-Japanese movement to the establishment of a stable society by developing the economy.

In 1937 the Japan-China war broke out and the military importance of Taiwan heightened, so military officers were again appointed to the post. The Governors-General during this period included Seizo KOBAYASHI, Kiyoshi HASEGAWA, and Rikichi ANDO, and their policies primarily focused on meeting the military demand to support the Japanese war efforts, making Taiwan into the military base. Ando, the last Governor-General, was arrested as war criminal after the war and killed himself in Shanghai in 1946.

Chief of Home Affairs

In the early days of Taiwan Sotoku-fu, the Chief of Home Affairs was referred to as 民生局長官 (1895-1896), 民生局長 (1896-1898), 民生長官 (1898-1919) and 総務長官 after August 20, 1919. The Chief of Home Affairs assisted the Governor-General and was responsible for the actual implementation of each policy formulated by the Sotoku-fu.

Successive Chief of Home Affairs and its forerunners such as Director of the Home Affairs Bureau (民政長官) included Takashi MIZUNO, Shizuo SONE, Shinpei GOTO, Tatsumi IO, Kumaji OSHIMA, Shunji MIYAO, Kakichi UCHIDA, Hiroshi SHIMOMURA, Sagataro KAKU, Fumio GOTO, Kakichi KAWARADA, Jiro HITOMI, Morio TAKAHASHI, Shin KINOSHITA, Hiroyoshi HIRATSUKA, Jiro MORIOKA, Itsuki SAITO and Ichiro NARITA. Among them, Shinpei GOTO, who built the foundation of the Taiwanese economy under Japanese rule, was a person with the most notable achievements.

Other administrative divisions

Besides the Governor-General and the Chief of Home Affairs, there were the secretarial office of the governor general, departments of law enforcement, agriculture, finance, education, mining, external affairs, and judicial affairs.

Other governmental bodies included judicial and educational departments such as courts, corrections, orphanages, police academies, transportation, port authority, monopoly bureaus, Taihoku Imperial University, schools of all levels, agricultural and forestry research stations.

Local administrative regions

In addition to the central administrative bodies, the administrative regions were established for local governance and during fifty years under Japanese rule, they were changed as many as ten times. In 1895 Japan started ruling Taiwan and set up three prefectures of Taihoku, Taiwan, and Tainan and Hoko-cho. After the frequent structural changes, the administrative divisions of Taiwan were confirmed as follows: the administrative regions consisting of Taihoku-shu, Shinchiku-shu, Taichu-shu, Tainan-shu and Takao-shu and Taito-cho, Karenko-cho and and Hoko-cho (independent from Takao-shu in 1926) were established in 1920 with the local administrative regions of shi (city), machi (town) and sho (village) ("sha" for the Takasago Tribe settlement) under each administrative region. The administrative regions established at this time influenced the Nationalist Government when it determined Taiwan administrative regions. Five shu and three cho were equivalent to prefectures in the mainland Japan, and shi, machi, sho and sha were equivalent to cities, towns and villages. In establishing the administrative regions in 1920, the original names were changed to Japanese names in some places, such as 打狗 to 高雄市、錫口 to 松山区 (台北市)、枋橋 to 板橋市、阿公店 to 岡山鎮、媽宮 to 馬公市, and these names are still used even today.

Republic of Formosa

The Qing dynasty, of which the defeat was inevitable in the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, aimed at an early peace pact and signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki with Japan on April 17 of the same year, in which it agreed to cede the Taiwan region (the island of Taiwan and Penghu archipelago) as Japan demanded.

However, some officials of the Qing dynasty as well as Chinese immigrants living in Taiwan repelled the decision by the Qing dynasty and proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of Formosa on May 25 of the same year to resist the seizure by Japan with the volunteer army led by Feng-chia CHIU. When the Japanese army started their advance to Taipei, the military force of the Republic of Formosa, which was mainly composed of mercenaries, fell apart soon, while, in Tainan, Yung-fu LIU commanded military and private soldiers and voluntary armies were formed in various places throughout Taiwan. When the Japanese army started their advance to Taipei, the military force of the Republic of Formosa, which was mainly composed of mercenaries, fell apart soon, while, in Tainan, Yung-fu LIU commanded military and private soldiers and voluntary armies were formed in various places throughout Taiwan. However, as the Japanese army further advanced southward, the Taiwan forces were defeated by the overwhelming military force and weapons of the Japanese army in the late June of the same year. At the end of October, Yung-fu LIU fled to the continent and the Japanese army occupied Tainan, which events marked the collapse of the Republic of Formosa. The people, whether military or civilian, killed in the war amounted to 14,000 in numbers (Taiwan History Dictionary).

Anti-Japan movement

After the collapse of the Republic of Formosa, Sukenori KABAYAMA, then-Governor-General of Taiwan, reported the suppression of the entire Taiwan to the Imperial headquarters in Tokyo in November 8, 1895 and the Japanese rule of Taiwan started. In December, however, the anti-Japanese movements led by the volunteer forces of the Qing dynasty started in northern Taiwan in the form of an extension of the armed resistance of the Republic of Formosa. In 1902, the anti-Japanese movements by the Han Chinese were put down and the weapons owned by civilians were confiscated. According to one bit of research, the number of people killed in the war or killed after arrested was approximately 10,000 (Illustrated History of Taiwan).

Gentaro KODAMA, who was Governor-General then, used the dual policy of the active suppression and the improvement of public livelihood, so most of the people in Taiwan chose the watch and wait attitude for these anti-Japanese movements. The anti-Japanese movement in the early days of the Japanese rule aimed at gaining control of Taiwan and coming under the jurisdiction of the Qing dynasty and it could be regarded as the armed resistance occurred in the connection with the Qing dynasty rather than the one happened due to heightened nationalism.

Though armed resistance against Japan was suppressed, a total of thirteen armed resistance attempts occurred from the Beipu Incident in 1907 to the Xilaian Incident in 1915. These uprisings were relatively small in scale except for the last Xilaian Incident and conspirators were arrested before the planned uprisings could even take place. Of them, eleven uprisings occurred after the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, and some anti-Japanese movements were strongly influenced by the Revolution and four of them declared that Taiwan would belong to China. Six uprisings aimed at establishing a Taiwan dynasty with the conspirators calling themselves emperors.

Wushe Incident

Wushe Incident was one of the biggest anti-Japanese movements in the late stage. On October 27, 1930, a group of more than 300 people from six villages, led by the Seediq Rudao MONA, assaulted the athletic festival held at an elementary school to kill about 140 Japanese in Wuche, 能高郡, Taichung Prefecture (present-day Ren-ai, Nantou County). The Sotoku-fu decided to retaliate against the tribe after the Incident and developed a subjugation campaign using the military force in cooperation with the rival tribes for two months, as a result of which military campaign 700 Seediq were killed in fighting or committed suicides and 500 people surrendered. About 300 survivors were forced to relocate to Chingliu (Kawanakajima) Village, which event marked the end of the Wushe Atayal.


The economy of Taiwan under Japanese rule was a colonial economy, which means that Japan used the resources and labors of Taiwan for the domestic development of mainland Japan. This economic structure, founded by then Governor-General Gentaro KODAMA, reached its peak due to the Pacific War. The Taiwanese economy was classified by its features into three periods: before 1920 when sugar industry was main, from the 1920s to the 1930s during which time Horai rice cultivation was spotlighted and after the 1930s when an international division of labor between mainland Japan focusing on industry and Taiwan on agriculture discontinued and Taiwan's industrialization was promoted to meet military demand.

Though the primary industry differed in each period, the primary goal throughout the entire time was to meet the domestic demand in Japan by increasing the production of agricultural and industrial products, while Japan's massive investment, which supported the development of Taiwan's economy and social infrastructure, influenced the post-war economy of Taiwan.

Sugar industry

The sugar industry in Taiwan, of which the scale was very small in production, was changed to factory mass production due to large scale investment by the Japanese capital. The Sotoku-fu promoted the development of the sugar industry in Taiwan by introducing sugarcane with high sugar content as well as improving the method of producing sugar. It also introduced the 'raw material collection area system' to protect the sugar manufacturers, system in which the sugarcane farmers were required to supply their products to the sugar manufacturing factories in their neighborhood at a price determined by them.

Under these protection policies, the Japanese Zaibatsu (company syndicate) began investing in the sugar manufacturing industry and setting up sugar manufacturing factories, which situation was a blow to the traditional sugar manufacturing in Taiwan and suppressed the income of the sugarcane farmers.


After the cession of Taiwan by the Japanese army in May 1895, Osaka Churitsu Bank opened 'Keelung Branch Office of the Osaka Churitsu Bank' in Keelung City in September. In June 1896, Sukenori KABAYAMA, then Governor-General of Taiwan, authorized the establishment of the branch, which was the first bank in Taiwan.

In March 1897, the Bank of Taiwan Act was passed in the Imperial Diet, and in November the committee of establishing Bank of Taiwan was organized to prepare for the opening of Bank of Taiwan. In March 1899, the Bank of Taiwan Act was amended, and the Japanese government authorized to acquire the shares of Bank of Taiwan with the limit of one million yuan. In June of the same year 'Bank of Taiwan Corporation' was established and began operations on September 26. During the period of Japanese rule, the Bank of Taiwan, on the Taiwan Sotoku-fu's request, issued Bank of Taiwan notes, currency used in Taiwan. The headquarter of the Bank of Taiwan was in Taipei, but the head of the Bank was resident in Tokyo, and the shareholders' meeting was also held in Tokyo. Through the Bank of Taiwan, a large amount of Japanese capital was put into Taiwan, which economic policy contributed to the development of capitalism in Taiwan, and further investment in China and the Southeast Asian countries from Taiwan.

In addition to Bank of Taiwan, the Sotoku-fu allowed the establishment of the Shoka Bank, Kayoshi Bank, Bank of Taiwan of Commerce, Niitaka Bank, Bank of Hunan and the Nihon Kangyo Bank, and it also enacted a special act to establish credit associations, trust companies, mutual loan associations, savings and credit associations to contribute to the economic development in Taiwan.

Monopoly system

In the early times of the Japanese rule, the finance of Taiwan was dependent upon a grant from Japan, which situation was a significant financial burden for the government of Japan at that time. The fourth Governor-General of Taiwan, Gentaro KODAMA, made the twenty year financial plan with the Chief of Home Affairs Shinpei GOTO, aiming at decreasing the grant and making Taiwan financially independent within twenty years. The Russo-Japan war, which broke out in 1904, required war expenditure and caused the national treasury to dry up, so Taiwan was forced to realize financial independence by accelerating the implementation of the plan.

The measures taken by the Sotoku-fu included the land registry readjustment, issuing of public bonds, formulation of standard currency and weights and measures systems as well as financial reforms by introducing monopoly system and local tax system. The monopoly system applied to opium, tobacco (refer to the section of Songshan Tobacco Factory established by Taiwan Sotoku-fu Monopoly Bureau), camphor, alcohol, salt and weights and measurement, and the monopoly policy contributed to an increase of the revenue as well as the realization of self sufficiency in Taiwan by preventing excessive competition in the field of each item and controlling the imports of these items.


During the armed anti-Japanese movement that was taking place in Taiwan, the Sotoku-fu tried to establish a ruling system other than suppression by armed forces and it implemented the policy to pacify the Taiwanese people through the spread of education. It tried to assimilate the Taiwanese into Japan through school education. Though elementary and secondary schools were initially separated for Taiwanese and Japanese and the Japanese received a privileged treatment in examination, the difference was gradually becoming smaller as the Japanese rule progressed. Japan's policy to spread the education system influenced the high educational standard of today's Taiwan to a certain extent.

Elementary and secondary education

On July 14, 1895, the Sotoku-fu appointed Shuji IZAWA as the first chief of Education Bureau responsible for the educational policy in Taiwan. Izawa proposed to implement compulsory education in Taiwan, which had not been implemented even in Japan, and the Sotoku-fu accepted his proposal and established an elementary school in Zhishanyan, Taipei (today's Shilin elementary school in Taipei) as an experimental school for compulsory education. Though the Zhishanyan Incident happened, in which six teachers were killed by guerrillas, the Sotoku-fu promoted the education policy to improve the educational institution by establishing the Japanese language study school throughout Taiwan the next year. In 1898 Japanese language schools were upgraded to public schools.

Initially, the elementary and secondary educational systems were separate for Taiwanese and Japanese. Elementary and secondary education for the mainlanders (Japanese) was charged by the elementary and secondary schools under the old system of education in accordance with the same Act of Education with the one enforced in Japan, while the one for Taiwanese was charged by kogakko (public schools) and higher elementary schools in accordance with the Act of Taiwanese Education.

In 1929, however, the Act of Taiwanese Education was amended, which amendment integrated higher elementary school into junior high school and employed a desegregated school system for Taiwanese and Japanese. At the same time, segregation by ethnicity 'Naichi jin' and 'Honto jin' was discontinued in the elementary education system, and the children who always used Japanese attended elementary schools and those who did not always use Japanese attended Kogakko.

In March 1941, the Act of Taiwanese Education was amended again, which amendment integrated Banjin Kogakko (public schools for Taiwanese aboriginal people) and Kogakko into Kokumin gakko and some schools were re-established as the ones for aboriginal children. In this way, the education system in Taiwan was finally unified and all schools (except for a few aboriginal education) were operated by central and local budget with six year compulsory education introduced for children aged from 8 to 13.

Though the initial enrollment rate for Taiwanese children was slow to increase, it showed a sharp increase with the implementation of the compulsory education system; In 1944, there were 944 elementary schools in Taiwan with 876,000 children (including girls) enrolled and the enrollment rates of Taiwanese children and the Japanese children in Taiwan were 71.17% and 90% respectively, which figures indicated the high enrollment rate in the world.

Higher education

Under Japanese rule, higher education in Taiwan was initially for Japanese only, so the Taiwanese had a limited chance of attending a higher educational institution.

Vocational education

For vocational education, the Sotoku-fu established the agricultural examination trainee system to educate persons who could contribute to the development of farming in Taiwan. Later the Sotoku-fu established educational institutions with six months to two years schooling, such as schools for sugar production or industrial learning schools attached to the Sotoku-fu Education Bureau. After elementary schools were established at various places in Taiwan, the Sotoku-fu set the target to make more fulfilling vocational education to produce technical experts, and the amended Act of Taiwanese Education in 1922 stipulated agricultural, industrial, and commercial schools as vocational schools. Initially these vocational schools were two years, but extended to four years after the Pacific War broke out to educate technical experts in Taiwan.


The Sotoku-fu also placed a strong emphasis on the modernization of Taiwan's urban infrastructure and transportation system. The railway was the most important policy, and to a lesser extent highways. Due to the development of transportation in Taiwan, the population increased from 2.6 million people in 1895 to 6.5 million in 1945 and the transportation network linking the west and north is still used now as the main artery in Taiwan.


The Railway Ministry (the Sotoku-fu Railway) was established within the Sotoku-fu to manage the railway in Taiwan on November 8, 1899. Since the establishment, the Sotoku-fu actively promoted railway construction in Taiwan, and completed the western line in 1908, which, linking the north and west, reduced the travel time from several days to a single day.

The Railway Ministry continued to develop the railway system, constructing the Tnasui Line (Taiwan Railroad Administration), Giran Line, Heito Line, and Toko Line as well as purchasing the Taitong Southern Line (currently a part of Taitong Line) and Ping Hsi Line. In addition, the Sotoku-fu developed the forest railways such as Lin tian shan, Ba hsien shan, and Alishan Forest railways.

In addition, the Sotoku-fu conducted research for the north link line, the south link line and the line through the mountains of central Taiwan but they were not established due to the outbreak of the Pacific War. The private railways were also constructed and the Taiwan Sugar Railways, Salt Railways, Mining Railways, as light railways, extended throughout Taiwan, playing the vital role for the transportation in Taiwan.

The National Government made a negative evaluation on Japan's colonial rule as depriving Taiwanese of their resources, but the railways are undoubtedly the heritage that contributed greatly to post-war economic development in Taiwan. Though dependence upon rail transportation is lower in Taiwan today, the railway lines built during the period of Japanese rule remained as they were and are used as one of the important means of transportation.


Compared to the development of the railway system, the development of the highway system attracted much less attention during the period of Japanese rule. Bridges over wide rivers such as the Cho shui River and Xia tamsui River (today Kaoping River) were underdeveloped. Toward the later days of Japanese rule, the development of highways caused competition between the railroad and motor transportation and many light railway lines were replaced with bus service. The ministry of the railway took measures by purchasing the bus service running in parallel to the railways.

As for urban transportation, 'noriai jidosha' (a type of bus) service was available, with the bus routes centering on local railway stations.

Port authority

The Sotoku-fu constructed Keeling and Kaohsiung Ports for improving Taiwanese maritime industry as well as for making them the transit bases for Japan's operation to the south, thus developing modern port facilities that were accessible by large vessels. Makung Harbor and Hualien Harbor were developed at that time as a part of the maritime transportation service for the eastern part of Taiwan and the islands.

Water supply

The main industry of Taiwan under Japanese rule was agriculture, so the fulfillment of water facilities was important in order to develop the Taiwanese economy. For agricultural development, the Stoke-fu confirmed the farming area by the land registry system and then set on the development of water supply.

The Sotoku-fu issued the "Taiwan Public Rules" in 1901, by which the old water facilities were replaced with the modern water facilities. The development of water facilities influenced agriculture in Taiwan, increasing the income for farmers as well as agriculture-related revenue for the Sotoku-fu.

Chianan Canal

The Chianan Plain in the southern part of Taiwan was a barren territory, especially during the autumn and winter, as it had no major rivers and little rain. Yoichi HATTA, a civil engineer of the Sotoku-fu, spent ten years to complete the Ushantou dam, the largest in the south east Asia at that time, and started the construction of Chianan Canal in 1920, and, with the completion of the major part in 1934, it became a huge water supply facility to supply water to the Chianan Plain, which covered as much as 14% of the total farming area in Taiwan.

Power plants

The development of power plants in Taiwan started with the establishment of Taipei Electric Company by Ryujiro DOKURA on February 12, 1903. He constructed a hydraulic power plant, which used the Nanshi River, a branch river of the Danshui River running in Shenkeng Township to start a power supply to Taipei City. The Sotoku-fu, which was promoting the modernization of Taiwan, established Taipei Electric Works and Kueishan Hydraulic Power Plant in Taipei in 1905, and started the power supply to Keeling the following year. Subsequently the Xiaotzukeng Power Plant in the Xindian River and the Jhuzihment Power Plant in Meinong Township, Kaohsiung County were constructed in 1909, and the Chiahui Power Plant in the middle of Taiwan in 1911.

In 1919, Motojiro AKASHI, then Governor-General of Taiwan, established the Taiwan Power Plant Company by consolidating public and private power plants, planned the construction of larger scale hydraulic power plants and started the research for the construction of Asia's largest power plant. As a result, Sun Moon Lake was chosen as the construction site and the construction of the hydraulic power plant, which had a drop of 320 m between Sun Moon Lake and Menpai Lake, started. For construction, the railroad was laid from Erbashui Station (today Ershuei Station) on the Western Line to the construction site to transport materials. This was the predecessor of the Jiji Line. Though the construction was influenced by the economic depression after World War Ⅰ, the First Power Station in Sun Moon Lake was completed in 1934, enabling the power supply to support the foundation for industrialization in Taiwan. In order to meet the increasing demand for power, construction of the Second Power Plant in Sun Moon Lake and the Wanda Power Plant started in 1935 and 1941, respectively, but construction was suspended while being bombed and damaged by the US air force during the Pacific War.

Control measures on opium

Shortly after the start of Japanese rule of Taiwan in 1895, opium was banned. However, due to the pervasiveness of opium addiction complete prohibition might cause social stability, so the government changed the initial hard line policy to ban opium immediately to a phase-out policy. On January 21, 1897, the Sotoku-fu issued the Taiwan Opium Edict mandating a government monopoly of opium trade and prohibiting private sales of opium, and allowed opium addicts to smoke opium for their lifetime by issuing opium smoking permits without producing new permits to eliminate opium over time. The policy proved to be effective because the number of opium addicts in Taiwan was 169,064 (6.3% of the total population) in the 1900 survey and 45,832 (1.3%) in 1921. In addition, it was financially beneficial to the independence of the Taiwanese economy as the monopoly sales of opium generated a substantial amount of revenue.

Public health

In the early years of Japanese occupation of Taiwan, the Sotoku-fu put the improvement of public health in Taiwan as an important policy because the Japanese army suffered from many deaths caused by infectious diseases in war. Initially the Sotoku-fu established public clinics throughout Taiwan and brought in doctors from Japan to halt the spread of infectious diseases. The public health system was dominated primarily by small local clinics rather than large hospitals, which policy was successful in decreasing malaria, plague, and tuberculosis and continued in Taiwan until the 1980s.

As for public health facilities in Taiwan, in addition to the water and sewage system designed by a British engineer William Burdon, many policies were adopted to improve public health, such as the improvement of streets, compulsory cleaning in the autumn, encouragement of ventilation in houses, quarantine of the patients with infectious diseases.

Activities were developed through school education or policy for improving public health awareness of Taiwanese, resulting in a steady improvement of public health awareness of the public, and a research center for tropical medicine was established attached to the Taihoku Imperial University to educate healthcare professionals and research for the public health improvement.

Merits and demerits of Japanese ruling

The development of mines, construction of railways and improvement of public health, modernization of agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries contributed to a higher living standard of Taiwan as well as an increase of agricultural and industrial production. Once the war broke out, the rich food resources in Taiwan became a useful source of supply to Japan and an air base was constructed in Kaohsiung and, with the draft system enforced in Taiwan, Taiwanese were also employed as labor force or soldiers like Japanese. In 1945, the electoral law was amended, enabling the election of Diet members from Taiwan, but it was never realized due to the defeat of the Japan in the war. Many Taiwanese were recruited for the management of Manchukuo or negotiations with China.

However, the recruitment of Taiwanese was only for assisting Japanese, and they suffered from discrimination, tangible, and intangible, in many cases. In elementary education, for example, elementary schools for Japanese and local children were clearly segregated. Systematic discrimination existed in the admission to higher educational institutions or for governmental employment and Japanese had a sense of discrimination against Taiwanese, so the government conducted the kominka policy to oblige them to assimilate to Japanese during the war.

The management policy of the aborigines in Taiwan so called "riban seisaku" (aboriginal management policy) contributed to the improvement of the educational level among them to some extent, and they were legally given almost the same rights as the Japanese or Chinese people. The reality, however, was that there existed a deep-rooted discrimination in the society.

This discrimination as well as economic and political gaps caused many armed uprisings to occur against colonial rule by Japan. The armed uprisings were all suppressed by the Japanese police or army, and many participants in these uprisings were arrested or killed. Especially at the time of Wushe Incident, the largest scale armed uprising under the Japanese rule, the use of poison gas was considered to put it down. The headhunting of rebelling tribes called shusso (a practice of headhunting which was legally permitted as a part of the riban seisaku) was admitted for the tribes cooperating in the suppression of rebellion. Due to this, the population in the Wushe region decreased from 1,400 before the incident to 300 after the incident and the tribe became extinct.

The volunteer soldier recruiting system and the army draft system started in 1942 and 1944 respectively, in line with which incidents House of Representative members were selected from Taiwan as well. Approximately 200,000 Taiwanese soldiers (including civilian military workers) served the Japanese army and approximately 33,000 people of them died or were missing in the war. The Takasago Volunteer Army consisting of aborigines were very brave in the Southern battle line. However, the Japanese government refused to pay compensation on the basis that there were no diplomatic relations between Japan and Taiwan, and finally paid uniform choikin (condolence money) of two million yen per person in 1987, more than forty years after the end of the war. While Japanese soldiers have received a 300,000 yen monthly pension, the Taiwanese soldiers who had renounced Japanese nationality received nothing except for choikin, of which fact some people including Sumei GAOJIN have been criticizing.

The Japanese tended to mention the positive side of the colonial ruling such as establishing the infrastructure, on the other hand, some mentioned the investment that was allegedly done for the benefit of Japanese, not Taiwanese, the exploitation by the privileged Japanese merchants, delayed industrialization as a result of Taiwan being positioned as a source of food or a base for southward advancement.

Post-war public evaluation

In postwar Taiwan, the Kuomintang Party, which was defeated by communist forces in the Chinese civil war and moved to Taiwan, suppressed the native-born Taiwanese who had been living in Taiwan before the Kuomintang related immigration wave (the White Terror and the 228 incident in 1947 was the largest scale suppression) and developed the military-first policy with the national credo of "counterattack the mainland," and as a result, the development of the infrastructure in Taiwan was put on the back-burner. Some native-born Taiwanese made a mockery of the people from mainland China and affirmed partially and relatively the Japanese ruling, saying, "dogs (annoying but useful = Japanese) left and pigs (which did nothing but eat = mainland Chinese) came" (狗走猪擱來).

Teng-hui LEE, the former President of the Republic of China, stopped the dictatorship of the Kuomintang Party and promoted democratic reforms in Taiwan. The history textbook compiled during Teng-hui LEE's tenure titled '認識台湾 (歴史編)' (Perception of Taiwan [History]) treated the history of Taiwan, which had been neglected as regional history, as national history, and focused on the period of Japanese rule, but the Democratic Progress Party government led by Shui-bian CHEN stopped adopting the textbook in the public education.

Teng-hui LEE appealed for Taiwan's independence from the Republic of China (China) after having retired from presidency. In his appeal he criticized the Kuomintang Party and re-evaluated Japan's governance policies.

On the other hand, the Kuomintang Party and the People First Party criticized Teng-hui LEE's evaluation of Japan as quislingism and positioned the period of Japanese rule as one being exploited by Japan. The Democratic Progressive Party is more sympathetic toward Japanese rule but makes it clear that colonialism was not accepted today, so it values the Japanese rule to some extent, but takes a stance to criticize the colonialism based upon which Japan ruled Taiwan.

The public evaluation of the Japanese rule is more positive in Taiwan than in Korea, and many people, especially those who grew up under Japanese rule, long for the days of the Japanese rule and value it, and there have been many books carrying such voices too. Therefore Taiwanese are friendly to Japanese.

[Original Japanese]