On April 17th, 1895, the corrupt and incompetent Qing Dynasty government was forced to sign the ‘Treaty of Shimonoseki’ with Imperial Japan – ceding the ‘Chinese’ sovereignty of Taiwan and its affiliated islands, (including the Penghu Islands and other places) to the direct political, military and cultural control of Imperial Japan! The Treaty of Shimonoseki represents an extremely painful attack upon China’s sovereignty – perhaps the worst of its type suffered in modern times. The treasured island that people on both sides of the strait worked hard to develop for generations was destroyed. Since 1895, China’s ‘treasure island’ of Taiwan embarked upon fifty-years of tragic Japanese colonial rule!
“If a single individual can die for their country, there should be no regret!”
As soon as the news of the enforced loss of Taiwan spread, the whole of Chinese population was shocked, the government and the opposition were indignant, and a vigorous anti-imperialist struggle was quickly established throughout every stratum of Taiwanese (Chinese) society! The reaction of the Taiwanese (Chinese) people was particularly strong and vigorous! People ran from one village to the next spreading the news, others banged the gongs and stopped the market, crowded into the Residents of Officials, protested the traitorous behaviour of the Qing Court, and were determined to fight to the death to protect Taiwan! On April 18th, the second day after the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki – Taiwanese (Chinese) freedom-fighter Qiu Fengjia (丘逢甲) cut his finger and wrote in blood, ‘Rejecting the Japanese to defend the land!’, and specially wrote to the Qing government to abolish the treaty to fight against Japan!
In the case that the letter was ignored – on May 25th, Qiu Fengjia and (Qing) Taiwan Governor Tang Jingsong (唐景崧) – formed a Taiwan (Chinese) Rebel Army! Tang Jingsong was in Taipei, the leader of the Black Flag (黑旗 – Hei Qi) Army, whilst the patriotic General of the Qing Army Liu Yongfu (刘永福) was stationed in Tainan – with Qiu Fengjia positioned in the centre – all ready to fight against the Imperial Japanese invaders! Due to hasty organization and a lack of appropriate training and supplies, however, on June 7th, the Imperial Japanese Army captured Taipei, and Qiu Fengjia’s Rebel Army was forced to retreat after suffering terrible casualties! On June 17th, the Imperial Japanese Army – Commander Kabayama Sukenori announced the establishment of an Imperial Japanese colonial regime in Taipei, announcing that Taiwan (and the Penghu Islands) was now ‘incorporated into the territory of Greater Japan’ – subject to the rule of the Imperial Japanese Army, its Martial Law (and Punishment) – with this day known forever as ‘Government Day’!
Although the Imperial Japanese Army occupied Taipei; the resistance struggle of the Taiwanese (Chinese) people was more fiercely intensified throughout Taiwan as the militant Hakka (Chinese) clans became directly involved – often fighting to the last man, woman and child, whilst inflicting heavy losses upon the invading Imperial Japanese Army! The Hakka clans possessed an almost ‘mystical’ belief in the power of their ancient martial arts systems and stories abounded amongst the young Japanese soldiers who started to fear encountering them! Military and civilians all over the country organized all kinds of fighting units to resist the Japanese invasion! In Hsinchu – the gateway to Taichung – the Taiwanese (Chinese) freedom-fighters and the Imperial Japanese Army continued to fight for more than a month! They fought more than 20 battles whereby the defenders killed nearly 1,000 Japanese enemies! In the end, because of the lack of weapons, medical care and food, Hsinchu fell. The Japanese Imperial Army, which continued to move South to occupy the whole of Taiwan – encountered incredible and brave resistance from Taiwanese (Chinese) freedom-fighters comprised of military units made-up of many different clan name associations and different Chinese ethnic groups – who all followed the example of the Hakka clans and put (internal) historical differences aside, to physically attack the invading Japanese! At the end of August, the Taiwanese (Chinese) defenders had inflicted more than 2,000 casualties to the Japanese troops! At that time, a Japanese aggressor lamented: ‘I thought that Taiwan was no more than a palm-sized land, and could be wiped out with a single trip, but it turned out that it was wrong to believe this conclusion.’
The resistance of the small Taiwanese (Chinese) military and spirited civilians made the Japanese Imperial Army fall into a stagnant quagmire where it could not advance or retreat without suffering more casualties! This led to the Japanese government having to send military reinforcements – a situation the Japanese military had not anticipated. In mid-September, the Japanese army successfully mobilized more than 70,000 people and attacked in a large-scale attack at Chiayi – an important town in Tainan. The Taiwanese (Chinese) freedom-fighters fought bravely, outnumbered ten to one, and went on the attack without flinching! Quite often, the local Hakka (Chinese) clans led the way – preferring to suffer 100% casualties in the defence of their ancestral lands – than surrender to the Japanese invaders! As a consequence, the outcome of the battle was extremely tragic. The leader of the Anti-Japanese Taiwanese (Chinese) Freedom-Fighting Army – Xu Xiangshen (徐骧身) – was seriously injured, but he forced himself to stand-up and shout: ‘If a single individual can die for their country, there should be no regret!’ This was a heroic sacrifice. On October 21st, the Japanese Imperial Army took advantage of the fact that the defenders had no food, medical care or anywhere left to retreat – and captured Tainan! The key Taiwanese (Chinese) defender Liu Yongfu (刘永福) was forced to board a ship and return to the Mainland China – and this action signalled the ‘end’ of the official Taiwanese (Chinese) Resistance to the invasion of the Japanese Imperial Army!
From June to October 1895, what was left of the Taiwanese (Chinese) military and civilian forces (led by the Hakka clans), fought on bravely – despite the occupying Japanese invaders beginning a terror campaign of mass-rape of women and girls (and sometimes against men and boys)! The Japanese Imperial Army also began mass public executions to act as ‘warnings’ to any ethnic Chinese people still planning on ‘resisting’ the Japanese Occupation! Under extremely difficult conditions, these Chinese warriors wrote an epic martial chapter of resisting Japan and protecting Taiwan! Therefore, the new Japanese Authorities ‘banned’ the practice of indigenous Chinese martial arts – which the Japanese viewed as the vehicle through which the ethnic Chinese ‘resisted’ their own subjugation, and which served to inspire the very sense of distinct ‘Chinese’ identity the Japanese colonial presence sought to destroy! The Japanese invaders paid a heavy price. Prince Nohisa Kitagawa and Nobucheng Yamane, Head of the Second Brigade, were both killed. Around 4,800 Japanese troops were killed, and nearly half of the Japanese troops involved suffered some type of wound. A Japanese soldier recorded: ‘Whenever our Army is defeated, or suffers a set-back, the nearby Chinese villagers will immediately attack us with their bare-hands and feet – or with whatever they can immediately pick-up from the environment around them. Everyone, even young women and children will take up arms and collectively run at us and fearlessly give battle whilst shouting their clan names! I am told that many of this type of Chinese are ‘Hak-Gar’ and are people from North China! These opponents are very tenacious and have no fear of death. Their martial arts look different from other Chinese people! They hide in shacks, and when one shack is destroyed by artillery fire, the survivors (some with terrible wounds) calmly move to another house, only to attack us again when they get the chance!’
‘The Governor’s order is the law.’
On November 18th, 1895, Commander Kabayama Sukenori reported to the Japanese Headquarters that the entire island of Taiwan was completely pacified. However, the struggle of the Taiwanese (Chinese) people to resist Japanese colonial rule had not stopped. In order to suppress the uprising in Taiwan and implement colonial rule, from 1895 to 1919, Japan sent seven military governors to carry out a brutal military campaign of dictatorship.
During March 1896, Japan placed Taiwan under the jurisdiction of Takuya Province and enacted the ‘Taiwan Governor’s Office Regulations’ and related regulations, stipulating a dictatorship system that ‘in Taiwan, the governor’s order is the law’. In order to cooperate with this system of governors, Japan established a Special Police system in Taiwan. A police network has been set up throughout Taiwan. There were Police Stations (a foreign concept) established in all states, departments, cities, counties and even streets. The police were mainly Japanese and are responsible for various government affairs. The Japanese police control and patrol every corner and aspect of Taiwanese (Chinese) society, becoming a nightmare that penetrated the daily life of Taiwanese (Chinese) people – reinforced by the executioners who directly massacred Taiwanese (Chinese) people. Since then, Taiwan become a terrifying ‘Police State’. Taking 1902 as an example, there were 10 departments, 97 branch offices, and 992 Police Stations in Taiwan. In the future, there were more than 1,500 police agencies of various types – employing more than 18,000 Police Officers! In the more economically developed areas of Taiwan, there was a police agency every two or three kilometres, and one police officer for every 300 Taiwanese (Chinese) people! Wherever the Japanese police went, they murdered, set fire, raped and looted. At that time, there was an idiom among Taiwanese (Chinese) people used to frighten children: ‘The adults are coming!’ The so-called ‘adults’ refer to the vicious Japanese police at that time.
In order to suppress the successive uprisings in Taiwan, Japan sent a large number of troops, military police and other special ‘enforcers’ to maintain order. In 1897, the Japanese Imperial Army implemented the ‘Three Stages of Guarding Law’, which divided the whole island into three zones: the ‘safety belt’ mainly referred to some big cities and large villages – with civilian police responsible for the security; The ‘danger zone’ was the area where the Anti-Japanese Freedom-Fighters were stationed – suppressed by the military, supplemented by a gendarmerie or armed police. The third zone comprised of ambiguous areas that were a mixture of partly safe and/or dangerous areas. This measure further strengthened the military rule of the Japanese colonists over the people of Taiwan.
In 1898, the Japanese colonial authorities implemented the ‘Protect Armour Regulations’, which set ‘Protect Armour’ concept to be a governing concept to be applied through police and military rule. It stipulated that 10 households equalled one ‘Armouring’ unit, and that 10 ’Armouring’ units equalled one ‘Protection’ division. For one ‘criminal’ act (which included the practicing of ‘Chinese’ martial arts), everyone in the same household would be punished. There were hundreds of cases of this kind of unreasonable legal oppression every year during the era of Japanese Occupation. In addition, the Japanese Imperial Army also organized a strong militia group, which was under the command and supervision of the police authorities and became the main body used by the Japanese army to kill any and all anti-Japanese rebels! By 1943, a total of 6,074 militia units had been established in Taiwan, employing 58,000 men tasked with controlling 500,000 households; In this way, the ‘Protect Armour’ system controlled and enslaved the people of Taiwan as a way of ‘taking Taiwan to control Taiwan’, and it became an important means for the Japanese colonists to rule Taiwan.
The strange phenomenon of ‘starvation through export’ appeared in Taiwan!
While establishing the colonial rule system, Japan did not stop frantically exploiting and plundering. Since 1895, the Japanese Colonial Authorities had successively promulgated a number of rules and regulations regarding land reform, occupying 94.15% of Taiwan’s mountains and forests and 75% of the farming land. Many farmers in Taiwan went bankrupt and were forced to flee.
After the Japanese Colonial Authorities forcibly occupied most of the land and forests in Taiwan, they brutally exploited the vast number of peasants. The colonists charged high land taxes to achieve their economic model of colonial rule of ‘agricultural Taiwan serves industrial Japan’, comprehensively transforming the traditional farming methods and production conditions in Taiwan, and continuously exporting a large amount of food to Japan. According to statistics, by 1934, Taiwan’s rice imports to Japan had reached 515,000 tons, accounting for about half of Taiwan’s total rice production that year. The plundered grain was exported to Japan, resulting in a serious shortage of grain in what had been the rich and fertile island of Taiwan. This cruel and ‘weird’ phenomenon has been called the ‘starvation through export’ theory in history.
In addition to food, Taiwan’s other rich products also became the target of Japanese plunder. The Japanese colonists monopolized the necessities of life such as salt, tobacco, wine, and matches, and also monopolized opium – banned in Japan – but which was used in Taiwan to poison the Taiwanese (Chinese) people. The Japanese colonial authorities first established the Taiwan Pharmaceutical Laboratory in March 1897 to monopolize opium. Then, in May and August 1899, the Taiwan Salt Office and the Taiwan Camphor Bureau were established successively to monopolize salt and camphor. Finally, in June 1901, the Monopoly Bureau was officially established in the Taiwan Governor’s Office, which was in charge of the monopoly of all commodities in the entire Taiwan region.
The economic plunder by Japanese colonists in Taiwan is especially typical within the sugar industry. A historian once said: ‘A history of Taiwan’s sugar industry is a history of Japanese colonization.’ Cane can only be sold to local Japanese-controlled sugar clubs. Through compulsory monopoly, more than 90% of Taiwan’s sugar was imported into Japan every year, and Taiwan’s sugar prices fell again and again, and Taiwan’s sugarcane farmers become nothing but slaves to the Japanese sugar capitalists.
Under Japan’s control, Japan’s economic management in Taiwan become a devil sucking the blood of the Chinese people, and Taiwan has become a raw material and processing base for Japanese militarism. This kind of plunder aroused the anger of the Taiwan (Chinese) compatriots, who rose-up yet again and continued the anti-Japanese struggle.
On December 13th, 1895, just 20 days after invading – Commander Kabayama Sukenori the first Japanese governor of Taiwan – announced that ‘the whole island was completely pacified’, Lin Dabei (林大北), the former Head of the Black Flag Army, led a new revolt in Yilan!
The uprising of Lin Dabei fought bravely against Imperial Japan using the ‘Three Anti-Japanese Fighters’ – aroused the resisting consciousness of Taiwan compatriots from all over the world. People all over the island gathered to respond, and gradually formed a number of anti-Japanese units dominated by Jian Dashi (简大狮) in the north, Ke Tie (柯铁) in the middle and Lin Shaomao (林少猫) in the south. These three people were called ‘Anti-Japanese Three Fierce Resisters’ at that time.
On December 31st, 1895, Jian Dashi united thousands of rebels from all walks of life to besiege Taipei. Although the city could not be taken due to poor weaponry, the first governor of Japan who colonized Taiwan saw Taiwan’s powerful resistance. Then, Jian Dashi led the rebel army to repeatedly inflict heavy damage on the Japanese Imperial Army in various places. In 1898, Jian Dashi was surrounded by Japanese invaders and retreated to Xiamen. The Qing government was weak and afraid, and even attempted to extradited Jian Dashi to Japan. In 1901, Jian Dashi died in a Taipei Prison.
The Central rebels, headed by Ke Tie, had been cleverly hiding in the Daping Mountain near Yunlin County. In June 1896, Ke Tie led various rebel forces to attack and recapture Yunlin, Lukang, Changhua and Chiayi. In February 1900, Ke Tie unfortunately passed away, and his units were defeated by the Japanese Imperial Army one by one.
Lin Shaomao’s rebel army in the South was mainly active in the Fengshan area of Tainan, and its whereabouts was erratic, constantly hitting the Japanese colonists in different places. In December 1898, Lin Shaomao gathered thousands of rebels to attack Chaozhou and fought the Japanese for three days and three nights. In 1902, Lin Shaomao was unfortunately deceived by the Japanese Occupation Authorities, and his forces scattered. Since then, the armed anti-Japanese struggle of the Taiwanese (Chinese) people has turned from large-scale uprisings to sporadic resistance.
Sporadic resistance gave the Japanese an opportunity. The Japanese Colonial Authorities mobilized troops and police to suppress the uprising and massacre the local Taiwanese (Chinese) at will, committing heinous crimes. For example, in the ‘Great Pingding Incident’ in 1896, 30,000 people in Taiwan were slaughtered; in the ‘Houbilin Massacre’ in 1901, 3,473 Taiwanese people were massacred; in 1902, over 30,000 Taiwanese people were slaughtered in the ‘Baobasu Incident’ Massacre; in the ‘Miaoli Incident’ in December 1913, more than 1,200 people were massacred. According to statistics by some scholars, during the period of Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan, 600,000 people in Taiwan were murdered by Japanese invaders.
Using ‘biological principles’ to rule Taiwan.
As Japan’s tyranny strengthened – the sense of unity among the Taiwanese people increased! The Japanese Colonial Authorities had to face up to the strong and lasting national cohesion of the Chinese people. Goto Shinpei, the Chief Civil Affairs Officer of the Japanese Colonial Authorities, suggested to the Japanese Headquarters that the governance of Taiwan must be based on ‘biological principles’, and threatened to implement a ‘scientific colonial policy’ – forcing ethnic Chinese people to become ‘Japanese’ by abandoning their indigenous culture!
Under the influence of Goto Shinpei, Japan first dispatched seven military governors to pacify the uprisings across Taiwan by military dictatorship. In October 1919, the Japanese Colonial Authorities changed the military system to separate the ‘military’ and ‘civilian’ elements of government and sent 9 civilian governors tasked to perform a charm offensive! The Taiwanese (Chinese) people had to voluntarily agree to give-up their ethnic identity and pretend they were ‘Japanese’!
One of the policies of assimilation was the promotion of enslavement education. Japanese education became compulsory for all Taiwanese (Chinese) children! The Japanese Colonial Authorities set up ‘Public Schools’ and ‘National (Japanese) Language Training Centres” to teach Japanese language and culture. This included Japanese martial arts such as the brutal ‘Swordsmanship of Bushido’ (and later such as ‘Karate-Do’, ‘Judo’) – designed to instil the Japanese National Fighting Spirit. In the school, the Japanese colonial teachers publicly shouted: ‘It is absolutely forbidden to use Chinese language or practice Chinese martial arts and those who are dissatisfied will be deported to ’Zhina’ [支那] (Japan’s disparaging name for China).’ Banning Chinese language and martial culture and popularizing Japanese is the most venomous move in Japan’s aggressive assimilation policy!
On the other hand, enslavement education prevented Taiwanese (Chinese) people from receiving higher education. Chinese students were excluded from college and university – except in special circumstances. Under this kind of enslavement education, Taiwan basically cannot find a secondary education institution suitable for Taiwanese people. This kind of discrimination was unbearable even for Japanese domestic educators that had to enforce it, and they even wrote articles criticizing it. Under pressure, the first civilian governor, Kenjiro Tian, decided that Taiwanese children with good Japanese could enter a good middle school and study in the same school with Japanese students. The Japanese Colonial Authorities preached that there was no racial difference in Taiwan’s education. In fact, this did not fundamentally change the discrimination against Taiwanese people in colonial education. Taiwanese higher education is basically enjoyed by the Japanese, and except for the Medical College and the Tainan Higher Commercial School, all other higher education institutions hold examinations in Japan. In the era of Japanese occupation, Japanese students accounted for more than 80% of Imperial University (later Taiwan University) attendees, whilst Chinese students accounted for less than 20%. The teaching content is mainly based on the dissemination of colonialist culture, whilst the history, ideology and culture of China were all excluded, so as to remove the influence of Chinese national culture at its root.
In 1936, in order to cooperate with the Japanese Imperial Army’s full-scale invasion of China, the 17th governor, Kobayashi Jizao, who took office soon, began to carry out the ‘Imperialism Movement’. The concept of the Motherland was firmly instilled in the minds of Japanese subjects.
After the implementation of the ‘Imperialism Movement’, the Japanese Colonial Authorities in 1936, in order to cooperate with the Japanese Imperial Army’s full-scale invasion of China, the 17th governor, Kobayashi Jizao, who took office soon, began to carry out the ‘Imperialism Movement’. The concept of the Motherland was firmly instilled in the minds of Japanese subjects.
Taiwan as a strategic pawn for aggression against China!
With the deepening of the war of aggression against China, the Japanese colonists made Taiwan an important pawn on the strategic chessboard. In September 1942, the Japanese government established the ‘Greater East Asia Province’ to administer the newly occupied areas, and gather the territories occupied before the war, (such as Taiwan and Korea), under the jurisdiction of the “Ministry of the Interior” in an attempt to give the false impression that the Taiwan region of China was part of the Japanese homeland!
During the war, Japan successively built several airfields in Taiwan as outposts for bombing mainland China and the Pacific. The air power that the Japanese Imperial Army relied on to capture Nanjing and invade Southern China also came from bases in Taiwan.
In order to supplement the source of troops and military expenses, the Japanese Colonial Authorities forced the ‘Golden Service to the Country Movement’, issued ‘Tribute Public Bonds’ and ‘Serve the Country Bonds’, and went door-to-door to collect private gold (forcing the Taiwanese population to ‘fund’ their own subjugation and the war against China and the West)! In 1944 alone, the Japanese military expenses borne by Taiwan reached 150 million yuan! Around 35% of per capita income was used for Japanese military expenditure; on the other hand, the Japanese Colonial Authorities, in the name of the ‘Temporary Ministry of Labour’, forced a large number of Taiwanese (Chinese) labourers to work as soldiers, translators and nurses, etc. on battlefields such as Mainland China and Southeast Asia. Indeed, as the war progressed, the various revisions of the Military Service Law Forced Taiwan youth to participate in the war of aggression. According to statistics, more than 200,000 people were forcibly conscripted into the Army by the Japanese invaders, and more than 30,000 people died in battle.
Such colonial brutality by Japan made the people of Taiwan full of anger, and many patriots returned to the Mainland to do their part for the great cause of resistance against Japan; whilst others stayed and organized political parties on the island to carry out legal struggles and propaganda; some founded publications to agitate against colonial rule.
On August 15th, 1945, Japan announced its Unconditional Surrender. The people of Taiwan ran to tell each other, and they all cheered! The major cities in Taiwan were full of people, cheering and firecrackers resounding through the sky. Everyone is now waiting for the coming of the day of recovery when they will throw off the final shackles of foreign domination and return to the loving embrace of the Motherland!
Chinese Language Source:
虽然日军占领了台北； 台湾（中国）人民的反抗斗争更加激烈，因为激进的客家（中国）氏族直接参与其中，经常战斗到最后一个男人，女人和孩子，同时给入侵的日本帝国军造成了沉重的损失！ 客家人对自己的武系力量有着近乎“神秘”的信念！ 在台中门户新竹，台湾义军与日军持续作战一个多月，先后进行大小战斗20余次，歼敌近千名，最终因为军械不继，粮食断绝，新竹失陷。继续南下欲侵占整个台湾的日军，处处遇到台湾义军和民众的抵抗，8月底，有2000余日军毙命。当时，有侵略者哀叹道：“原以为台湾不过巴掌大小之地，以一旅之众即可一举歼灭，而结果证明，轻信这种结论是错误的。”