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During the imperialist era of the 19th century, there was a common stereotype held in the west that a nation’s might was measured by the extent of its political power over regions out of the main state. This stereotype was largely accepted by the Japanese elites during the Meiji era that lasted between 1868 and 1912 and in which Japan took up modernization operations. Based on its economic, technological, and educational advancements, Japan escaped the colonized lot of Asia and joined the ranks of colonizers. In its desire to spread out into East Asia, Japan encountered resistance and fought wars with China and Russia to gain control of Taiwan and Korea. Japan marched into Taiwan in 1895 and later Korea in 1910 and ruled them until its defeat in World War II of 1945 to China, the USSR, and the United States of America. There are lots of similarities and differences in the Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan and Korea. This paper seeks to address these similarities and differences between the Japanese rule of Taiwan and Korea.
To support production and market development, Japan highly valued infrastructure and achieved this through the development of railway networks and ports in Korea and Taiwan (Lee, 2010). “Japan invested heavily on Industry and infrastructure” (Aviles, 2009), a good infrastructure was necessary for transportation of agricultural produce to Japan and shipment of ammunitions to army posts. There was miniature development in terms of infrastructure in Taiwan at 1900; 20years later, it had a railway stretching for over 600 kilometers and more than 3000 kilometers of road and port services. Japan discouraged the establishment of the local religious beliefs in both colonies and endorsed its faith, Shintoism. In Taiwan, Buddhists and Taoinist religious convictions were downcast and prosecuted for Shinto to be established. The local Taiwan population was encouraged to pay regular visits to the jinja (Japanese shrine) and was expected to worship taima every morning (Duus, Myers, & Peattie, 1996). The Japanese authorities in Korea developed harsh actions against the Christian communities, for example, in 1937, several schools were closed down in Korea after their students declined to visit the Shinto shrine (Duus, Myers, & Peattie, 1996).
The Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan and Korea emphasized on the use of Japanese as the national language of the colonies. Upon the arrival of the Japanese in Taiwan, they referred to their language as Nihongo (Japanese) but later after staying for a year, it was officially referred to as kokugo, meaning the national language (Duus, Myers, & Peattie, 1996), this was also the case for Japan. The Japanese integrated their language into the school curriculum and slowly eliminated the indigenous languages from the curriculum. The colonial government established name-changing campaigns that were officially announced on February 11, 1940, both in Korea and Taiwan that required the locals to replace their indigenous names with Japanese names. The name-changing program nevertheless was a bit different in Taiwan compared to Korea; it was obligatory to have a Japanese name in Korea. The program was different in Taiwan in the sense that only the head of a household was qualified to apply for a Japanese name and not everybody qualified to.
Despite the similarities of the colonial rule in the two colonies, there were several differences. The Japanese invasion of Korea was met with strong resistance as compared to Taiwan; this could be articulated to the fact that Korea was an independent state at the time of the Japanese invasion while Taiwan had previously been under Dutch colonization and was considered an outpost of the Chinese development (Lee, 2010). The most visible resistances by the Koreans to the Japanese rule were the March 1st, 1919 independence demonstration, the independence army, and the increased assassination of Japanese military and leaders. On October 2, 1937, the Japan Government-General in Korea introduced the “oath as subjects of Imperial Government” (Duus, Myers, & Peattie, 1996) for the Koreans. The oath was to be recited in any public gathering and was meant to establish the Koreans loyalty to the colonial government. Contrary to Korea, there was no recitation of oaths of loyalty in Taiwan.
Due to the strong resistance encountered by Japan in Korea as compared to Taiwan, the Japanese rule of Korea was very brutal and harsh (Abramson, 2004‐2005). Contrary to its colonization policy of assimilation, the colonial power greatly discriminated against the Koreans; Korean men were assimilated into the army and greatly mistreated while women were taken as “comfort women” for the soldiers. In terms of economic development, Korea’s industrial development was more balanced compared to Taiwan. The economy was developed actively and in a balanced manner and contrasted to Taiwan where development was biased towards agricultural produce. This was mainly because Taiwan was a tropical region where rice and sugarcane grew in plenty and were also richer in natural resources than Korea. Owing to the economic and educational development of Taiwan, the living standards of its citizens were raised and life became easy and there were even signs of pro-Japanese government chants (Lee C., 2012). On the other hand, the state of affairs was a direct opposite in Korea where heavy taxation made the living conditions unfavorable for Korean society.
The Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan and Korea were marked with significant similarities due to Japan’s policy of “Japanisation” of its colonies, the reign of Japan was however met with differing perceptions in Taiwan and Korea. The attitudes of the natives and levels of resistance to the Japanese rule in each of these colonies was the major reason for the development of major differences in the Japanese ruling.
Abramson, G. (2004‐2005). Comparative Colonialsims: Variations in Japanese Colonial Policy in Taiwan and Korea, 1895 ‐ 1945. Portland State University McNair Research Journal , 11-37. Web.
Aviles, A. (2009). Impacts Of Japanese Colonialism On State And Economic Development In Korea And Taiwan, And Its Implications For Democracy. Monterey, California : Naval Postgraduate School. Web.
Duus, P., Myers, R. H., & Peattie, M. R. (1996). The Kominka Movement in Korea and Taiwan: Comparisons and Interpretations. In W. -y. Chou, P. Duus, C. J. Eckert, L. Gann, K. Goto, G. Hicks, et al., The Japanese Wartime Empire 1931-1945 (pp. 41-68). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Lee, C. (2012, October). Shadow of the Colonial Powe: Kominka and the Failure of the Temple Reorganization Campaign. Studies in Asia , pp. 120-145. Web.
Lee, T. J. (2010). Economic Polices of Japan In the Colonial Korea and Taiwan. Wonju: Yonsei University. Web.