Japanese History

Topics: Korea, Empire of Japan, Korea under Japanese rule Pages: 10 (2471 words) Published: November 18, 2014

How did Japanese colonial policy in Korea compare to that in Taiwan?

During the end of Edo period, Japan was forced to sign on the unequal treaty, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, by the United States forces that demanded the opening of five ports for the foreign trade while securing the U.S. diplomatic privilege of extraterritoriality (Tipton, 2002, p.26). This agreement curtailed the Japanese sovereignty for the first time in history, and alerted Japanese politicians to the dangers of further foreign encroachment. After the fierce debates among Japanese intellectuals, they realized ‘Gunboat diplomacy’ is the essence of the international political game. Thus, some of enlightened leaders such as Sakamoto Ryōma (1867) emphasized the necessity of modernize Japan as Western states by strengthening the military and economic power in his writing Eight-Point Program in order to survive in the arena of power politics. This idea was adopted as a center pillar of Meiji Restoration and enabled Japan to build up military power comparable to Western states within a short period of time. However, Japan needed to show its advanced military strength to be recognized as a growing power and to join ranks of powers in international politics (Ebrey, 2009, p.371). Therefore, the Meiji government planned the way to be a ‘regional hegemon’ through military expansion in Asia. It first defeated Qing Dynasty in Sino-Japanese War in 1895 and representatives of both states signed at the Treaty of Simonoseki that included the Article1 to cede full sovereignty of Taiwan to Empire of Japan in perpetuity. In other words, Taiwan officially became the first oversea colony of Japan. Nearly a decade later, Japan attained a surprising victory over the Russian forces and successfully received acknowledgement of Russia concerning its takeover of Korean peninsula with the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905. As a result, Japan directly ruled Korean peninsula from 1905 without intervention of Russia and finally annexed Korea in 1910. The Japanese colonial policy toward these two most prominent colonies has been an important academic topic for a large number of scholars since it allows deeper analysis and understanding of Japanese society in various aspects by comparing that of Western states. However, most of them assume the Japanese colonial policy was homogenous and largely overlook differences between the colonial policies of two colonies. In fact, several different forms of colonial administrations existed according to the differing nature and characteristic of each colony. For a more precise analysis of Japanese colonial rule, this essay will thoroughly examine the differences of colonial policies between the two colonies, and figure out why it was different. Strategic importance and Process

Although Taiwan was the first oversea possession for the Empire of Japan, the annexation of Taiwan was not the result of deliberate decision of the Japanese government (Rhee & Lai, 2011, pp.2-5). The colonization of Taiwan was a mere symbol that shows the prestige and pride of Japan as a growing power comparable to Western states. Consequently, there was not a clear direction with regard to specific colonial policies for Taiwan which infers Japan was yet unprepared for ruling over the Taiwanese. Therefore, Gotō Shimpei (1857-1929), Chief Civil Administrator of the Government-General of Taiwan, insisted that the abrupt implementation of Japanese rules should be prevented unless Japan understands the unique social circumstances of Taiwan (Peattie, 1984, p.81). In that context, gradualism was adopted as colonial policy of Taiwan at the initial stage of colonial rule, avoiding introduction of radical changes into Taiwanese society. At the same time, considerable efforts had been made by the Government-General of Taiwan along with the Meiji Government to learn Taiwanese language and customs. The...

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Rhee, L., and Lai, J. (2011) The Impact of Myth-Making on Imperialism: Comparison of Korea and Taiwan During Japanese Colonization. Western Political Science Association 2011 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1766697
Choe, S. (2010) Colonial-Era Dispute Agitates South Koreans. NewYork Times, 4 April, p.1. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/05/world/asia/05poet.html?pagewanted=all
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