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Special Exhibition|Back in their times: a visual history of Taiwan from the 1930s to the 1960s



Memories of these times

From the 1930s to the 1960s, Taiwan experienced Japanese colonization, bombing by the Allies in the Second World War, and takeover, military oppression and massacre by the Nationalist government's army. The destruction caused by the war brought the once flourishing economy to a halt. After the war, Taiwan also experienced a rapid change of regime, which threw Taiwanese people's identity into confusion and incoherence.

During this period, not only were famous photographers and civilian amateurs using cameras to record historic scenes, but colonizers of different regimes were also making documentary or propaganda films about Taiwan. Although these photographic works only show cross-sections of specific scenes and cannot completely represent the historical background of the times, they still provide perspectives through which the audience can take a peep at history. These films that were originally made with a strong intention of propaganda might seem absurd to our modern eyes, but they also contain some elements of truth about people's lives back then.

In this exhibition, photographs and films show the multifaceted lives of ordinary people during Japanese colonization, the state of mobilization in war, ruins caused by Allied bombing, and the difficult times after the end of the Second World War, as well as reconstruct these turbulent and vulnerable decades in Taiwanese history.


Taiwan under Japanese colonization in the 1930s

In the 1930s, the Japanese colonial authorities had completed the infrastructure necessary for turning Taiwan into the “agricultural production base of Japan.” Not only were the census and land survey finished in this decade, but major transportation infrastructure (such as the West Coast railway line connecting Keeling to Kaohsiung, construction of ports, and arrangement of shipping routes between Taiwan and the Japanese mainland) also accelerated circulation of Japanese products and Taiwanese commodities and set a sound foundation for economic development. The building of the Kanan Irrigation System and the Sun Moon Lake Hydraulic Power Plant was also finished in this decade, enhancing agricultural production, and providing abundant and cheap electricity for new industrial development. The overall social order of Taiwan became more stable than in the early years of Japanese colonization.


A daily scene of the 1930s was bananas in baskets placed on a side of the Kirun Port (today’s Port of Keelung) waiting to be packed onto a ship to be sold in Japan. During the Japanese colonial period, Taiwan's bananas were exported to Japan in large quantities. In the beginning, Taichu Prefecture was the most popular location of production, with production areas concentrated in Daiton (Datun), Inrin (Yuanlin), Toyohara (Fengyuan), Nanto (Nantou), and other places. After 1926, this gradually shifted to Takao, with an annual output of about 320 million kilograms. At this time, the West Coast line connecting Kirun and Takao (Kaohsiung) had been open for several decades, and was connected with the Kirun Port. The import and export of goods and materials was thus unobstructed.(Photo credit: Scanning Taiwan Vol.1, Light and Shadow of the Times 1895-2000)


The 1930s Sakaecho (at the intersection of today’s Boai Road and Hengyang Road) was the most prosperous area in Taihoku during the Japanese colonial period and known as the “Ginza of Taihoku.” It not only had stores, but also a hospital, bank, tea house, and bookstore. The residents of Sakaecho were mostly Japanese, while the Taiwanese mostly lived in the areas of Daitotei and Banka (today’s Wanhua). Leaving the North Gate and entering Daitotei, another atmosphere could be felt.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Stable social development

After the Japanese authorities’ fierce suppression of the aboriginal insurrection in the Musha Incident and after left-wing organizations were purged, large-scale anti-Japanese armed uprisings became almost non-existent in Taiwan. During this decade, spacious urban design and streets bustling with people, shops and department stores characterized Taiwanese cities. The Taihoku City Public Auditorium (the current Zhongshan Hall), the Taiwan Governor Museum (the current National Taiwan Museum) and Taihoku New Park (the current 228 Peace Memorial Park) were set up one after another in this period, providing new locations for public assemblies, events, and leisure activities. The Japanization movement was also launched in this period to implement a series of policies, such as promoting the National Language Campaign, encouraging locals to adopt Japanese names, and reforming religion and customs, so that the Japanese identity and support for Japanese rule could be enhanced.


The 1942 celebration of the founding of Japan at 1 Chome, Sakaecho (today’s intersection of Hengyang Road and Chongqing South Road). The words " Tsujiri Tea Shop" are visible on the signboard on the left. On the road, there are buses managed by the city and a road sign saying “pass on the left.” Taihoku began its bus operations in 1912. In 1931, there were 168 bus operators in Taiwan. While buses were being developed, the Taiwan Governor's Office also began to develop urban roads in five administrative districts. The design of island-wide paved roads was being systematically developed in 1936. By 1945, a total of 3,688 kilometers of round-the-island roads had been laid, and the paved streets in all the cities covered 1,399,95 kilometers.(Photo credit: photographed by Li Huo-zeng and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


In 1936, the Taihoku City Public Auditorium (now Zhongshan Hall), which was designed for the public by Ide Kaoru, the chief of the Building and Repairs Section of the Taiwan Governor's Office, witnessed many important historical moments in Taiwan. The photograph depicts the end of the parade celebrating Koki (Japanese Imperial Year) 2600 in 1940. Women in front of the Taihoku City Public Auditorium are wearing kimonos and clogs. Men are wearing suits with handkerchiefs folded into their chest pockets, presenting the basic outfit of the British gentleman, and the influence of the west on Asia when it came to clothes.(Photo credit: photographed by Li Huo-zeng and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


In 1932, Kikumoto Hyakkaten, a department store invested in by Japanese people, was set up in Sakaecho (today’s No. 148 and 150 Boai Road in Taipei). Taiwan’s first department store, Kikumoto Hyakkaten, had a liû-lông (elevator in Taiwanese vernacular) installed, which was rare at that time. It not only sold groceries, but also had a canteen, children's playground and observatories, allowing visitors to climb its heights to enjoy a different view of the city from a distance. The modern building of Kikumoto Hyakkaten was seven stories high and was the second tallest building after the Taiwan Governor’s Office. The photograph shows the National Foundation Day Celebration banner hanging on Kikumoto Hyakkaten in 1942.(Photo credit: photographed by Li Huo-zeng and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


Wearing uniforms with a cap and clogs as they ride their bicycles, a group of teenagers of the 1930s has just passed Kikumoto Hyakkaten at the left rear. Uniforms and caps of tertiary education institutions in the Japanese colonial period were symbols of honor. A difference can be recognized between the decoration on the hat and the school badge. The Taihoku Imperial University hat had a three-bar white line, different from the two bars of Taihoku High School.(Photo credit: Scanning Taiwan Vol.2, Long Alley of Life 1895-2000)


Photographed by photographer Deng Nan-guang in Taiheicho (now the stretch between the first and third sections of Yanping North Road, Datong District). During the Japanese colonial period, Taiheicho experienced commercial and cultural prosperity. Four of Taiwan’s most prestigious restaurants (Hông-lâi-koh, Tong-hōe-hong, Kang-san-lâu, and Tshun-hong-tik-ì-lâu) were within one kilometer of the square. The woman in the photograph dressed in a cheongsam with a thigh-high slit was probably a geisha who circulated the restaurants. These places were the main base of Taiwanese social movements before the war. After the war, they were the starting point for the February 28 Incident that affected Taiwan's modern society.(Photo credit: photographed by Deng Nan-guang and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


The photograph shows national school students attending class. In 1937, the Japanization movement promoted "the national language as the mother’s womb of the imperial spirit" to cultivate the foundation for patriotic sentiment. The original local language courses at schools were cancelled. In classrooms, slogans such as "comrades love each other" and "dedication to the country" were hung on the wall. The wartime atmosphere could easily be felt.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Under the influence of the Japanization movement, many standard "national language families" emerged. This photograph, taken in 1940 in Hokuko District (today’s Beigang), is of a family who has already changed their surname from the original "Chien" to the Japanese name "Kanda." In the early days of Japan's rule, Japanese language was not prospering in Taiwan's society. In 1937, people who could use Japanese in their daily lives accounted for only 37.38% of the total population. After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese side began to promote Japanization and cultivate the patriotism and spirit of sacrifice of the Taiwanese people. In addition, it administered the National Language Campaign to suppress the mother tongues of the island. If a household applied to become a "national language family," it would enjoy preferential treatment for public office employment and admission to Japanese primary schools. By 1942, the national language families accounted for about 1.3% of the whole population of Taiwan.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Vigorous cultural activities

During the Japanese colonial rule, many new ideas and things were introduced to Taiwan, resulting in prosperous growth of cultural activities. Leisure activities like festivals, baseball, sumo wrestling, and horse racing began to blossom. In addition, the Taiwan Governor’s Office proposed the idea of “useful education” at Japan’s Imperial Education Association, encouraging the development of art and music education in Taiwan. From then on, a variety of cultural activities and organizations, such as the Taiwan Fine Art Exhibition, Tai Yang Art Exhibition, and Taiwanese Cultural and Art Alliance, sprang up one after another. Many Taiwanese artists and writers were also performing outstandingly in Taiwan and Japan at this time.


Lee Lim-chhiu, the songwriter of “Bāng Chhun-hong,” singing after a meal at the Black Beauty Restaurant (Yanping North Road and Nanjing West Road). Lee Lim-chhiu was the manager of the famous theater Eiraku-za in Daitotei, which often showed Peking Opera, Nanguan and Beiguan music, and Taiwanese films. The "First Theater" in Taiheicho (today’s Yanping North Road) was dominated by Japanese opera.(Photo credit: provided by Lee Hsiu-chien)


Sun-sun (first from the right) and Ài-ài (third from the right) were Taiwanese popular singers in the 1930s. “Peach Blossom Weeps Tears of Blood” and “The Torment of a Flower” are songs that are still known today. The lyrics of a famous song of the time “The Dance Age” have a sense of the society that women longed for in Taiwan’s new era: “We are civilized women and our free will takes us everywhere/ We are so happy and free that we don’t know how things are.”(Photo credit: Scanning Taiwan Vol. 3, Cultural Transformation 1895-2000)


This Harvest Opera was staged in front of the square at the Beipu Citian Temple in Shinchiku (today’s Hsinchu) in 1935. The Harvest Opera is a major event held in Hakka villages after the autumn harvest in August. The preparation of sacrifices and the performance of the Harvest Opera is not only to entertain the gods but also to reward people's hard work throughout the year. This is a lively scene captured from the second floor of his grandparent’s townhouse by photographer Deng Nan-guang, who had just returned to Taiwan from Tokyo.(Photo credit: “Hakka Harvest Opera,” 1935, photographed by Deng Nan-guang. Format: digital output. Size: 31.5 x 47.5 cm. Archived by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum)


From 1938 to 1942, the Taiwan Shinto shrine ceremonies passed through today’s Yongsui Street. In 1937, the Japanization movement began to implement religion and customs reform policy to build more Shinto shrines, in an attempt to replace Taiwan's existing religion with the Japanese national religion Shinto, and to eliminate folk religions by integrating and removing local temples. Of these methods, "temple integration" was the most intense. Although it stopped following strong opposition, it greatly reduced the number of temples in Taiwan.(Photo credit: photographed by Li Huo-zeng and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


Every year on the 13th day of the fifth month of the Lunar Calendar, the City God’s birthday parade started at Daitotei’s Xiahai Chenghuang Temple and tens of thousands of people filled the streets. At the beginning of the Japanese colonial period, religious parades were banned. It was not until the protection of the gods was requested against a plague that the ban was lifted. In 1937, the Japanization movement promoted religion and customs reform, and Taiwan's traditional religious activities were suppressed. The grandeur in this photograph was never to be seen again.(Photo credit: from the archive of the National Museum of Taiwan History)


After a series of wars leading up to the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese government realized that its military horses needed improvement, so launched a horse improvement promotion campaign. The revitalization of horse racing was regarded as a method of horse improvement. In 1928, the Maruyama Stadium in Taihoku held its first official ticketed horse racing event in Taiwan. Outside of Taihoku, there were also racecourses in Shinchiku (Hsinchu), Taichu (Taichung), Kagi (Chiayi), Tainan, Takao (Kaohsiung) and Heito (Pingtung). The photograph shows the Hokuto Racecourse in 1942 (today’s Fu Hsing Kang College).(Photo credit: photographed by Deng Nan-guang and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


In 1935, the Tai Yang Art Society held its first exhibition at the Taiwan Education Association Building (now the National 228 Memorial Museum). The Tai Yang Art Exhibition was hosted by the private sector, and the Taiwan Fine Art Exhibition was government-run. From right to left: Tan Ting-pho, Li Mei-shu, Chen Chun-te, Chen Zhiqi’s wife and children, husband and wife Yang San-lang and Hsu Yu-Yan and their daughters, and Lee Shih-chiao.(Photo credit: provided by Yang San-lang Art Museum)


The third Tai Yang Art Exhibition’s welcome forum in Taichu (Taichung) in 1937. The first row from the right: Hong Ruilin, Lee Shih-chiao, Tan Ting-pho, Li Mei-shu, Yang San-lang, and Chen De-wang.(Photo credit: provided by the Tan Ting-pho Cultural Foundation)


As early as 1897, the Japanese national sport of sumo wrestling was introduced in Taiwan. Schools and village streets all over Taiwan held sumo training and competitions. Between 1940 and 1945, aboriginal sumo wrestlers in Taiwan were promoted to "Makuuchi " (first-class wrestlers) in Japan, the highest-level Taiwanese sumo wrestlers in Japan.(Photo credit: photographed by Deng Nan-guang and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


Established in 1934, the Taiwan Literature and Arts League was the earliest literary group in Taiwan with island-wide membership. The Taiwan Literature and Arts League advocated the "popularization of literature and art" and was not limited to the field of literature. The cover of the magazine Taiwan Literature was often Illustrated by painters such as Tan Ting-pho and Yen Shui-long, and island-wide exchanges were also commonplace. This literary magazine had the longest life, the most writers, and the most far-reaching influence of all literary magazines established by Taiwanese during the Japanese colonial period.(Photo credit: Scanning Taiwan Vol. 3, Cultural Transformation 1895-2000)


The Taiwan Exposition

In 1935, the Taiwan Governor’s Office co-hosted with local elites and businesspeople the Taiwan Exposition: In Commemoration of the First 40 Years of Colonial Rule to showcase all the achievements of the Japanese colonial authority during its 40 years of governance in Taiwan. The Taiwan Governor’s Office hoped to use Taiwan as a successful model for its colonial administration to demonstrate Japan’s excellent capability in managing its colony, and to attract investment from the Japanese mainland and overseas.

The Taiwan Exposition’s main exhibition areas were all in Taihoku City. Local venues were also set up in other cities and counties. There were three large and one small exhibition areas in Taihoku City. The first exhibition area, which took up 4.29 hectares, was set up around the Taihoku City Public Auditorium with pavilions demonstrating Taiwanese industries (including civil engineering, transportation, sugar, mining, and forestry) and showcasing Manchuria and Korea. The second exhibition area, which took up 7.93 hectares, was set up in Taihoku New Park, displaying the social and cultural development in Taiwan under Japanese colonization and introducing the mainland of Japan. In the third exhibition area set up at the Kusayama (today’s Yangmingshan) Hot Spring, a tourism pavilion was put up to promote the key sightseeing facilities in Taiwan. The 1.3-hectare-large exhibition area in Daitotei (Twatutia) was full of the atmosphere of the “South Seas,” displaying the current development of and future plan for Japan’s southward expansion policies.


A bird’s-eye view of the 1935 Taiwan Exposition: In Commemoration of the First 40 Years of Colonial Rule drawn by the famous aerial artist Yoshida Hatsusaburo. In the upper left corner of the drawing, the Taihoku City Public Auditorium (now Zhongshan Hall) is visible. At the bottom of the drawing is the Open-Air Concert Hall in today’s 228 Peace Memorial Park, and what was known as the First Cultural Pavilion (today’s National Taiwan Museum).(Photo credit: from the archive of the National Museum of Taiwan History)


The north entrance to the first exhibition area. The "Transportation and Civil Engineering Pavilion" in the exhibition area introduced Taiwan, Japan and the world's transportation development and urban subway projects. In terms of civil engineering, models showed the impact of earthquakes on structures. In addition, there was also an "Industrial Hall" that displayed the achievements of the Taiwan Power Company, the Central Research Institute, etc., as well as an industry pavilion, a sugar pavilion, and mining pavilion introducing the various resources in Taiwan.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


The second exhibition area of the Taiwan Exposition was Taihoku New Park (now 228 Peace Memorial Park), which housed the First and Second Cultural Pavilions. The theme of the second pavilion was the effectiveness of public health, the education of Han people on health habits, and the situation in relation to aboriginal rule. On the right is the sponsor Morinaga Milk Caramel Factory.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In order to prevent the Taiwan Exposition from favoring the city center and neglecting Daitotei, local gentry made a collective request to open a third exhibition area in Daitotei. As a result, the Taiwan Governor’s Office moved the “South Pavilion,” which introduced special products from Siam, the Philippines and Fujian Province and had the theme of Japan’s southward expansion policies and future goals, to Daitotei. The gentry also invited a Mazu parade, the famous Peking opera artist Mei Lanfang, and a Peking opera troupe to attract Taiwanese people.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


The First Cultural Pavilion located in the Taiwan Exposition’s second exhibition area (the present-day National Taiwan Museum) showed the educational achievements made following the colonization of Taiwan and how the colonial government responded to social problems such as unemployment and poverty.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


During the Exposition, the Taiwan Exposition Support Association and the Banka Autumn Festival Committee, both jointly organized by the government and civilians, especially invited Chaotian Temple’s Mazu from Hokuko to Taihoku to hold a large-scale event, the "Báng-kah King of Qingshan Autumn Festival," on November 17. On this day, a large-scale religious parade was organized mobilizing more than 50 Mazu groups of all sizes from Tainan, Kagi (Chiayi) and Kirun (Keelung). The photograph shows the participants on the road to the Taiwan Governor’s Office (now the Chongqing South Road - Hengyang Road intersection).(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


During the Taiwan Exposition, a geisha group that belonged to the Taihoku Geisha Union Office performed a "Taiwan Exposition Dance" in the Open-Air Concert Hall at Taihoku New Park. Geisha were also called Gē-tuànn in Taiwanese vernacular. They had the ability to sing operas on stage and recite poetry. A common saying went, "If you haven’t seen geisha in Twatutia, you can’t say you’ve been there.” Geisha could often be seen at gatherings of intellectuals in the Japanese colonial period.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In order to promote tourism to Taiwan, the Taiwan Exposition set up a third venue, the "Tourism Pavilion." The first floor introduced Taiwan's scenic spots from north to south, and the second floor had a rest area. Visitors could climb up high to see the scenery of Hokuto. In addition, an 11-kilometer road between Shirin and Kusayama was also built, which greatly shortened the driving time between Kusayama and Taihoku. Passengers could take the bus from Taihoku toward Kusayama (via Hokuto), or travel directly from Taihoku to Kusayama (via Shirin) on a special scenic tour bus. The photograph shows the bus stop and timetable of the special bus in Hokuto.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Taiwan during wartime

Even though Taiwan was not officially affected by the military conflict before the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941, the government of Japan still regarded Taiwan as an extension of the Japanese mainland and was at that time already starting to demand Taiwanese people to prepare for war. As the war escalated, people from schools and neighborhoods were mobilized regardless of their gender or age to participate in air defense drills and fire drills. In response to future air raids, logistical supplies were collected, and Taiwanese people were conscripted to fight on the frontline. Taiwanese society had gradually fallen into the turbulence of warfare.


In 1942, an air defense drill was carried out in the west of Taihoku’s city center (now Wanhua District).(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In the 1940s, under the guidance of firefighters, youth participated in a fire drill (in which they relayed buckets of water) in Taihoku.(Photo credit: photographed by Deng Nan-guang and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


Large-scale air defense drills and fire drills

The Japanese government understood that as Taiwan played a crucial strategic role in facing military conflict, it definitely would be impacted if the Pacific War began. Therefore, firefighting groups were reformed into fire brigades, which combined the efforts of “neighborhood groups” (organized by members of local communities) to actively mobilize the strength of local communities to organize air defense drills and fire drills in preparation for possible air strikes in the future.


In response to the upcoming air raids and the fires that would result, official Japanese firefighters guided local volunteers who were affiliated with “neighborhood groups” to perform fire drills in the north of Taihoku’s city center (today’s Zhongshan District and Datong District).(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Supporting frontline operations

After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, Japan sent troops of millions of soldiers overseas. The military campaign was hugely costly. Because of this, the Japanese government promulgated the National General Mobilization Act, stipulating that all personnel and materials must be included in the state's administrative management and planning during the war. "Donation activities” were promoted in Taiwanese society under the influence of government propaganda and the social atmosphere. People provided financial support to the Japanese government for the construction of fighter jets and warships. Meanwhile, some local organizations also joined in with logistical assistance. For example, the Taiwan branch of the Patriotic Women's Association not only supplied the Japanese government with resources for its military campaigns, but also provided food, clothes they had sewed, and bags full of things they had prepared to improve the morale of frontline soldiers.


From 1937 to 1945, members of the Patriotic Women Association’s Inrin (today’s Yuanlin) branch made umeboshi for Japanese soldiers fighting in China.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


The Patriotic Women Association’s Taiwan branch donated a Mitsubishi A5M fighter to the Imperial Japanese Navy. Since 1932, more than 30 aircrafts had been donated to the Japanese army and navy by Taiwan Sugar Co., Ltd, local security groups created by the Hoko system in Taiwan, the Taiwan Irrigation Association, Taiwanese mining companies, and the Taiwan Power Company.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In the 1940s, the parents' association of Taihoku Oimatsu Public School and the neighborhood groups near the campus launched a donation campaign, filling the auditorium with bags full of things meant to enhance the morale of frontline soldiers fighting in northern China.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In 1941, locals fundraised for the construction of warships in Sakaecho, Taihoku (near the current Hengyang Road in Taipei).(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Under the influence of the Japanization movement in the 1940s, on war-related festivals, such as Day to Reverently Accept the Imperial Edict, Army Commemoration Day, and Navy Commemoration Day, people holding fundraising boxes like the one in the photograph could be seen in the streets of Taiwan. They asked passersby to donate some money to the Imperial Japanese Army so that fighter jets and warships could be built. The fundraising work was mostly taken up by members of the Patriotic Women's Association.(Photo credit: The Southern Stronghold (produced by Wang Zuo-rong))


The beginning of combat readiness training

As the Allies launched a counter-attack, a combative awareness that a decisive battle would take place on the island permeated Taiwan, a territory that was treated as an extension of the Japanese mainland’s frontline. Not only did young adult men join the Youth League to take part in military exercises, but school education was also overhauled so that military-related subjects became compulsory and students started military training. After the legislation of the Volunteer Soldier Act, men and women across the country who were of suitable age were grouped into national guard troops. Women also needed to take up weapons and get ready for the war.


In 1945, the Japanese government promulgated the Voluntary Military Service Law, which gathered men and women of suitable ages into a national army of volunteers. Even women were included in the combat training.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Japanese traditional martial arts were extended to school students as the war encroached. Male students mainly studied kendo and female students mainly studied naginatajutsu. The photograph shows the female students of Kabayama National School practicing naginatajutsu in the 1940s. (Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In 1944, members of the Youth League participated in the National Defense Assembly in front of Lungshan Temple in Banka.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In the late 1940s, the bombing by the Allies continued. When female students were in class, first aid kits and gas masks were kept close so that they could react to an emergency immediately. (Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Taiwanese people recruited to fight on the frontline

Under the influence of the Japanization movement and atmosphere of war, there were many times that Taiwanese people marched on the streets to celebrate the victories of the Japanese army. As the war intensified, the government of Japan needed to recruit supplementary troops. The recruitment of “special volunteer soldiers” and “special volunteer sailors” in Taiwan was thus launched in 1942. A great number of Taiwanese youths answered the recruitment call. In the final stage of war, universal conscription was also implemented. According to the Ministry of Welfare, before Japan was defeated, 207,183 people went to fight on the frontline, of which 30,304 people did not survive.


Before the end of the Second World War, the Japanese army was caught in a dire situation. Due to a lack of soldiers on the frontline, the Japanese colonial government implemented a comprehensive conscription system in Taiwan. The Japanese also held grand farewell marches specifically for people who were conscripted, hoping that more Taiwanese young men would join the army to fight for their glory. The photograph shows Wu Hung-chi, the man waving his hands, who was from a distinguished family in Chureki (currently known as Zhongli) walking on his own farewell march after being conscripted.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In a classic image of Taiwanese joining the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War in the 1940s, young people are holding “Go to battle” banners, their family members are wearing Japanese outfits, there is a Japanese national flag with “Continued luck in the fortunes of war” written on it, and their faces have particular expressions in front of the camera.(Photo credit: Scanning Taiwan Vol.1, Light and Shadow of the Times 1895-2000)


Looking at the game played by children during wartime in an unknown corner of Taiwan, it is not hard to see the thorough influence of the Japanization movement.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In the final stage of the war, the Imperial Japanese Army grouped the young Takasago people into special forces troops. Among these troops, the Kaoru Airborne Unit was a secret army stationed in Luzon that was subordinated to the Imperial General Headquarters. Members of the Kaoru Airborne Unit were special forces soldiers who, instead of using parachutes, used belly landings to perform suicide attacks.


The photograph shows the Takasago Volunteers before they went to war in 1943. Before Japan officially recruited volunteers in Taiwan, it had recruited aboriginal people in Taiwan to form the Takasago Volunteers. According to statistics, the Takasago Volunteers were dispatched seven times between 1942 and 1943. Each time there were between 100 and 600 volunteers in a unit. The total number of Takasago Volunteers was about 4,000 people, of which more than 3,000 died on the battlefield.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In 1937, students from Taihoku Oimatsu Public School participated in a parade celebrating the capture of Nanking in front of the Taiwan Governor’s Office.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In 1943, the Taiwanese servicemen in the Imperial Japanese Army took a series of photographs before they went to the battlefield. Taiwanese people went to the frontline for the Japanese government, and there were countless casualties. In the photograph, Hung Kun-zun (the first man from the right in the photograph on the up) was sent to the Pacific as a Japanese soldier. His right hand was shot by a machine gun on the frontline, resulting in the amputation of his wrist (the first man from the right in the photograph on the down).(Photo credit: Visual Stories of Taiwanese Servicemen in the Imperial Japanese Army (edited by Chen Mingcheng and Chang Kuochuan))


The fusion of popular songs during wartime

As the Pacific War approached, the entertainment world of Taiwanese popular songs was overshadowed by Japanese militarism and imperialist ideology. In order to publicize the “sacred war,” the Japanese colonial authorities started to replace the lyrics of some Taiwanese popular songs with militarist words. As the lyrics were converted from Taiwanese Hokkien into Japanese, the singers of these songs were also changed to Japanese ones. During this period, the Japanese government launched the Japanization movement in Taiwan. Following this, Teng Yu-hsien changed his name to Higashida Gyou and his Taiwanese songs “Bāng Chhun-hong,” “The Torment of a Flower,” and “Goa̍t-iā Chhiû” were adapted into the Japanese militarist anthems “The Mother Earth is Calling on You,” “Warrior of Honor,” and “The Wife of the Warrior.” These adapted songs were often sped up and their compositions infused with a strong sense of masculinity to match the ambitiousness and forcefulness in the new lyrics. Unexpectedly, after the adaption, the main listeners of these songs shifted from Taiwanese people to Japanese people.


Composer Teng Yu-hsien (Image provided by Luo Fang-mei)


Sun-sun, the lead singer of “Goa̍t-iā Chhiû” (Image provided by the National Taiwan University Library)


Taiwan under air strike attack

In the final stage of the Second World War, the Allies officially extended their frontline to Taiwan. The Formosa Air Battle took place on October 12, 1944. Within five days, 4,320 fierce aerial engagements between the US Navy and the Japanese Air Force broke out in the skies above the island. Later, the US Navy began a large-scale bombardment of various areas in Taiwan. Such air raids continued to wreak havoc on Formosa until the end of the Second World War in 1945. According to statistics compiled by the Police Department of the Taiwan Governor’s Office, 5,582 people died and 8,760 people were injured in air raids. 45,340 houses were ruined, leaving more than 300,000 people homeless. The actual numbers could be much larger than these figures.


In 1938, before the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Taihoku Airport (the current Taipei Songshan Airport) and Chikuto (Zhudong) town of Shinchiku Prefecture suffered air strikes. Following this, “explosion-resistant blankets” were installed on the exterior of buildings to reduce the impact of future air raids.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In the 1940s, before the end of the Pacific War, major cities such as Taihoku, Tainan and Takao all became targets of air raids. The glass windows of shops were affixed with crisscrossing tape to try to prevent the blasts from shattering them during air raids.(Photo credit: The Southern Stronghold (produced by Wang Zuo-rong))


On May 31, 1945, the US Army launched an airstrike targeting Taihoku City. The attack was later called the Taihoku Air Raid by historians. On the day, 117 US Army B-24 bombers were dispatched to carry out the bombing operation, killing more than 3,000 Taihoku citizens on the spot and damaging many buildings. The losses were severe. The Taiwan Governor’s Office was also bombarded in the airstrike. The right wing of the building was damaged and was not rebuilt until 1947.(Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


In 1945, a sugar factory in Ensui (today’s Yanshui) suffered an air strike. During the Japanese colonial period, Taiwan's sugar industry was very developed, not only providing sugar for the Japanese mainland and Taiwanese markets, but also acting as one of the major commodity exporters of Taiwan. Therefore, sugar factories in various places became the key targets of the US Army’s bombing operations.(Photo credit: Here Come the American Bombers: Photographic Book of the Taiwan Air Raid in the Second World War (authored by Gan Jihao))


In 1945, US Army B-25 bomber flew over the Byoritsu Refinery and was shot down by the Japanese army.(Photo credit: Here Come the American Bombers: Photographic Book of the Taiwan Air Raid in the Second World War (authored by Gan Jihao))


The US Army initially focused on bombing military facilities, but after 1945, infrastructure that people’s livelihood depended on and densely-populated residential areas also became targets of bombing. The photograph shows the scene of the bombing of Chikunan Railway Station by the US Army on June 6, 1945. Because the station was located at the intersection of two railway lines, coastal and mountain, it was targeted along with the city center nearby. (Photo credit: The Rise and Fall of Formosa, Japan (edited by Wang Zuo-rong))


Aerial view of Takao Harbor in 1945. Takao Prefecture became the key bombing target for the US Army due to the military fortress status of Takao Harbor and the Japanese Navy 61st Aviation Factory located in Okayama (today’s Gangshan). An example is the Okayama Air Attack that took place on October 14, 1944. About 130 US Army B-29 bombers were dispatched on the day, discharging nearly 590 tons of bombs. Almost all houses in the Okayama area were destroyed.(Photo credit: Here Come the American Bombers: Photographic Book of the Taiwan Air Raid in the Second World War (authored by Gan Jihao))


A woman fled with her baby during an air raid. Her face was accidentally captured by the camera.(Photo credit: provided by Hsu Tsung-mao’s Library)


After the air raid, many one floor houses were ruined in southern Taiwan. Local residents were dealing with the aftermath among the debris.(Photo credit: provided by Hsu Tsung-mao’s Library)


After the air raid, the central districts of Taihoku City were in ruins.(Photo credit: photographed by Deng Nan-guang and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


During the Taihoku Air Raid, the Taihoku Imperial University Medical School Affiliated Hospital (now National Taiwan University Hospital) was also bombed.(Photo credit: Scanning Taiwan Vol.1, Light and Shadow of the Times 1895-2000)


Taiwan after the war

After the Second World War, Chen Yi and the Nationalist government’s army arrived in Taiwan to take over the Japanese colony. At this time, Taiwanese people who had already suffered the ravages of war were looking forward to a new chapter of life heralded by the arrival of a government from their “ancestral land.” However, the situation did not develop as Taiwanese people expected. Under the administration of the Nationalist government’s army, Taiwan experienced ever-growing social conflict exacerbated by hyperinflation, cultural gaps, and the government’s lack of rule of law. On February 27, 1947, an accident caused by the anti-contraband tobacco operation near the Tianma Tea House escalated to the outbreak of the February 28 Incident. Later, in 1949, the Nationalist government relocated to Taiwan and declared martial law. In a time of turmoil and turbulence, Taiwanese society had turned a new page in its history.


The Taiwanese “Retrocession”

On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. On October 17, the 70th Corps of the Nationalist government’s army landed in Formosa. On October 25, the ceremony of Japan surrendering to the Commander in Chief of the Chinese Theater was held at the Taihoku City Public Auditorium (the current Zhongshan Hall). Ando Rikichi, the last Governor-General of Taiwan, signed an instrument of surrender and handed it over to Chen Yi, the Chief Executive of the Taiwan Provincial Administration. Taiwanese people accepted the official definition of the “Retrocession” and celebrated the arrival of the Nationalist government’s army, as they anticipated public order would soon resume after the end of the war.


On October 25, 1945, Ando Rikichi, the Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army, signed an instrument of surrender and handed it over to Chen Yi, the Chief Executive of the Taiwan Provincial Administration.(Photo credit: archived by the Kaohsiung Museum of History)


The 70th Army, as the first troop to arrive in Taiwan after the Second World War, landed on the Japanese colony on October 17, 1945, ready to take over the island. The four military officers in the photograph are (from left to right): the head of the 70th Army, Lieutenant General Chen Kung-ta; Chief of Staff, Major General Lu Yun-kuang; the deputy leader of the 107th Corps, Major General Hsieh Mao-chuan; and the deputy leader of the 75th Corps, Major General Tsui Kuang-sen.(Photo credit: provided by Tu Cheng-yu, archived by the National Archives of the United States)


The photograph shows Japanese immigrants boarding a ship at the Port of Keelung and leaving Taiwan after the Second World War. (Photo credit: The History of Taiwan (authored by Qi Jialin))


The 70th Army soldiers lined up at Kirun Port (Port of Keelung). The Nationalist government’s army not only sent the 70th Army from Ningbo to Keelung to take control of northern Taiwan, but also dispatched the 62nd Army from Haiphong, Vietnam, to Takao (Kaohsiung) to control the south of Taiwan in November 1945. The transportation of both armies was completed with the help of the US Navy.(Photo credit: provided by Tu Cheng-yu, archived by the National Archives of the United States)


After Japan was defeated, the Taiwan Governor’s Office conducted a temporary household survey in October 1945 to facilitate the repatriation operation. The actual number of Japanese immigrants in Taiwan was confirmed to be 323,269. These people were repatriated in three stages, with only about 1,000 deciding to naturalize as Taiwanese. The photograph shows Japanese immigrants selling their belongings before traveling back to Japan.(Photo credit: Japanese People in Taiwan Selling Their Belongings After the Second World War (1946), photographed by Deng Nan-guang. Format: gelatin silver print. Size: 47 x 31 cm. Archived by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum)


In October of 1945, Taiwan was about to end its 50-year Japanese colonial rule. However, Taiwanese people at this time were feeling a mixture of familiarity and strangeness about their so-called “ancestral country.” In the photograph taken in Taiheicho (now Section 1 of Yanping North Road), the national flag of the Republic of China is printed the wrong way around on a banner saying “Welcome.”


Post-war turmoil and the February 28 Incident

Having experienced prosperity during the Japanese colonial period, Taiwanese society greatly surpassed China in terms of achievements in industrial development, agriculture, and education. However, after the so-called “Retrocession,” what Formosa embraced was a governance much worse than that of the Japanese colonial regime, resulting in widespread disappointment and acute criticism of the new government. Moreover, inappropriate agricultural economic policies and the manipulation of currency exchange between the legal tender of the Republic of China and the Taiwan dollar gave rise to a food crisis and hyperinflation, which prompted the outbreak of the February 28 Incident in 1947.


Between the end of the Second World War and the takeover of Taiwan by the Nationalist government’s army in October 1945, rapid inflation had already begun due to the destruction of the war and the Japanese colonial government’s lifting of commodity control measures in Taiwan. According to statistics, the price index increased eight times in August 1945 and 18 times in September 1945. This situation could not be effectively controlled even after Chen Yi took over Taiwan, which resulted in post-war turbulence in Taiwan’s politics and economy. Hyperinflation was also one of the main causes of the February 28 Incident.(Photo credit: The History of Taiwan (authored by Qi Jialin))


After the Second World War, Taiwan experienced economic stagnation, a shortage of commodities, chaos in the market, and hyperinflation. Around this time, some people in Taipei picked up the available materials from the wreckage of fighter jets that had crashed during the war, and sold them to make ends meet.(Photo credit: photographed by Deng Nan-guang and provided by Sunnygate Phototimes)


Between 1945 and 1947, the corrupt nature of the Nationalist government’s army resulted in widespread corruption following its takeover of Taiwan after the Second World War. Moreover, inappropriate agricultural economic policies and the manipulation of currency exchange between the legal tender of the Republic of China and the Taiwan dollar gave rise to a food crisis and hyperinflation. Boiling public resentment was evident in the newspaper coverage of the time.(Photo credit: Research Report on the Responsibility for the February 28 Incident)


A tobacco vendor in post-war Ximending. The street market of that time appears unusually bleak.(Photo credit: Tabaco Vender (1946), photographed by Lee Ming-Tiao. Format: gelatin silver print. Size: 23.5 x 18.5 cm. Archived by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum)


On February 27, 1947, people were killed and injured while the Monopoly Bureau’s contraband investigators and police officers tried to confiscate illegal cigarettes, which triggered public anger that had been simmering against the government for a while. The following day (February 28), people began to gather and protest at the Taipei Branch of the Monopoly Bureau (now Changhua Bank’s branch in Taipei, located at No. 27, Section 1, Chongqing South Road). The protesters walked past the Taipei Railway Station toward the headquarters of the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office. However, before they arrived at the square of the headquarters, they were stopped by guards who indiscriminately shot many of them. After the shooting, protesters occupied the Taiwan Radio Station, trying to broadcast the incident to the whole of the island.(Photo credit: Research Report on the Responsibility for the February 28 Incident)


A staff member of the Monopoly Bureau lies on the street after being beaten up in the conflict that took place at the Taipei branch of the Monopoly Bureau on February 28.


On the day when the February 28 Incident broke out, protestors gathered in front of the Monopoly Bureau and burned anything that was thrown out of the windows of the Bureau’s office. Around this time, demonstrations, strikes, vandalism and other forms of protest also appeared on the streets of Taipei. The conflict began to escalate and various resistance actions took place throughout Taiwan.(Photo credit: Research Report on the Responsibility for the February 28 Incident)


The day that the February 28 Incident broke out, social unrest was seen in front of the Taipei Railway Station.


Post-war turmoil and the February 28 Incident

After the outbreak of the February 28 Incident, the Nationalist government carried out a military crackdown on Taiwan, creating severe conflict between the people of Taiwan and the Nationalist government. Soon after facing a series of failures in its effort to exterminate communists in China, the Nationalist government’s army ushered in a martial law period in Taiwan. An atmosphere of apprehension and White Terror permeated the whole of Taiwanese society. Although public order was gradually restored under the oppressive rule of the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party), propaganda slogans such as “bring down the communist rebels to rebuild the nation,” the “red flag with a navy-blue canton bearing a white sun,” and the personality cult of Chiang Kai-shek could be easily seen on the street at the time, bearing witness to the absurdity of the era.


In 1949, the Nationalist government’s army was defeated in the Chinese civil war by the Chinese Communist Party. On May 19, Chen Cheng declared martial law, bringing Taiwan into a "wartime mobilization state" and 38 years of military rule. At the end of the year, the government of the Republic of China fled to Taiwan, where it continued its anti-Communist, anti-Russian policies and the White Terror period ensued.(Photo credit: Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News, May 19, 1949, first edition)


After the Nationalist government’s army took over Taiwan in 1945, the Higashi Honganji Temple became a detention center that belonged to the Taiwan Provincial Security Command. Built in 1936, the Higashi Honganji Temple was located at the intersection of the current Xining South Road and Wuchang Street in Ximending. It was demolished and converted into the Lions' Plaza Commercial Building in 1979. Before the lifting of martial law, anyone who was suspected to have a connection with the “communist rebels” would be accused of participating in anti-state activities and be arrested by military police or police authorities for violating Article 100 of the Criminal Code. The suspects would be interrogated and imprisoned here before they were transferred to and sentenced at the Department of Martial Law’s detention center (near the current Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel). After the military trial, they would be executed or incarcerated depending on the verdict.(Photo credit: Nan'e Bukkyō, Vol. 15, No. 1)


On June 10, 1950, Wu Shi was sentenced. The four criminals standing in front of the court's railings are Nie Xi, Wu Shi (leaning forward to write his will), Zhu Chenzhi and Chen Baocang from right to left. Immediately after hearing their death sentence, they were transported to and executed at Taipei’s Machangding execution site. During the martial law period, the Kuomintang used military trials to persecute some of the Chinese Communist Party’s underground members, such as Wu Shi and the three other criminals. However, miscarriages of justice were also apparent in many other legal cases.(Photo credit: provided by Hsu Tsung-mao’s Library)


A verdict issued by the Taiwan Provincial Security Command (left) and a certificate of release issued by the Military Prison of Taiwan, Ministry of National Defense (right).

Tsai Kun-lin was born in Kiyomizu, Taichu (now Qingshui, Taichung). After graduating from high school, he started working as a clerk in the Qingshui Township Office. However, in 1950, he was accused of being involved with the Chinese Communist Party’s branch in the Taipei Telecommunications Office. The Taiwan Provincial Security Command used Tsai Kun-lin’s participation in a book club at high school (in which he once distributed flyers on behalf of rebels) as the reason to incarcerate him for 10 years and deprive him of his political rights for seven years. Tsai Kun-lin became one of the first political prisoners sent to Green Island. Not until 1960 did he regain his freedom.

Convictions like this that were made with no sufficient evidence or on the basis of absurd reasons were not uncommon in the White Terror period.(Photo credit: Tsai Kun-lin)


Between 1951 and 1965, anyone who was believed to have connections with the Chinese Communist Party would be sent to Green Island as political prisoners and incarcerated at the New Life Correction Center. The political prisoners imprisoned at the New Life Correction Center were divided into 12 groups, each of which had about 120 to 160 people. The total number of internees was 2,000 at most. If including the prison staff, the number was nearly 3,000, which was equivalent to the resident population of Green Island. Such a large-scale political prison attracted the attention of the international community. Karl L. Rankin, the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of China, inspected Green Island twice in 1953 and 1957. A lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army’s Military Assistance Advisory Group also inspected Green Island along with journalists from Taiwan and overseas in 1954.(Photo credit: provided by the Central News Agency)


The New Life Correction Center on Green Island also incarcerated female political prisoners, including choreographer Tsai Jui-yueh and Lan Ming-ku’s wife, Lan Chang A-tung. The number of female prisoners at one point reached nearly 100. These female political prisoners, like men, were regarded as "new lives" needing to be "reformed." In addition to hard labor, which exhausted them to the point that they could not rebel, ideological remolding was also adopted to indoctrinate anti-communist, anti-Russian thoughts, such as “Three Principles of the People,” “ideas of the founding father Sun Yat-sen,” “President Chiang Kai-shek’s teachings, and “the atrocities of the communist rebels.”(Photo credit: provided by the Central News Agency)


The name of Kikumoto Hyakkaten, a department store opened in the Japanese colonial period, was changed to the Taiwan China National Product Company, and sold Shanghainese products instead of Japanese products. In 1951, the headquarters of the Friends of the Armed Forces Association was also set up in this building. Today, the outer wall of the Kikumoto Hyakkaten building has changed into a glass curtain wall.(Photo credit: photographed by Lee Ming-tiao, provided by Lee Tao-chen)


After the Nationalist government fled to Taiwan, in order to enhance its ruling legitimacy, it started to actively promote the education of Chinese culture and use the territory of China to inculcate in Taiwanese students the Chinese nationalist identity from the 1950s.(Photo credit: Scanning Taiwan Vol. 3, Cultural Transformation 1895-2000)


In 1954, 8,000 young men and women made an oath to join the anti-communist China Youth Corps. Initially established in 1952, the China Youth Corps was led by the president of the time Chiang Kai-shek as the head and by Chiang Ching-kuo as the first director. It was an important youth organization during the anti-Communist, anti-Russian period in Taiwan, instilling patriotism in its members and organizing group training.(Photo credit: provided by Hsu Tsung-mao’s Library)


During the martial law period, the personality cult of the Kuomintang’s leader could be seen everywhere in Taiwan. This photograph shows a giant portrait of Chiang Kai-shek erected on Zhongshan Hall during the Scouts of China’s 16th anniversary in 1950.(Photo credit: provided by the Central News Agency)


The flag of the Republic of China, which consists of a red field with a blue canton bearing a white sun, was the most common symbol seen in Taiwan during the anti-communist, anti-Russian period.(Photo credit: Making Flag on a Riverbank (1960s), photographed by Lin Chuan-tsu, provided by Lin Chuan-hsiu)


On August 23, 1958, the Chinese People's Liberation Army launched a bomb attack on Kinmen and fired nearly 500,000 bombs and missiles at Kinmen within 44 days. During this period, a long parade of Buddhist monks and nuns appeared in the city of Taipei, raising funds for the military operations in Kinmen and Matsu in the name of "fighting for the freedom and security of the Pacific Ocean.”(Photo credit: provided by the Central News Agency)


The sights of the empire and the perspective of the Nationalist government

Although Southward Expansion to Taiwan and Today’s Taiwan are both propaganda films dedicated to publicizing the achievements of the colonizers, they present very different perspectives on Taiwan.

In Southward Expansion to Taiwan, Taiwan is shown as a treasure island abundant with the fragrance of jasmine and a variety of resources. As far as Japan, a country that had depleted its natural resources, was concerned, only by effectively controlling Taiwan could the foundation for southward expansion be laid. Although the film’s introduction of the island’s bountiful resources might sound like an advertisement attracting investment from the Japanese mainland, the tone of the film is full of a sense of excitement and delight in exploring and discovering Taiwan. As the train travels around the island, the film demonstrates the achievements of the Japanese rule of Taiwan and brings the audience closer to the land.

Taiwan as seen in Today’s Taiwan was an anti-communist base that had been under the strong influence of Chinese culture and Sun Yat-sen’s ideas. The political slogans that appear from time to time in the film seem to tell Taiwanese people that once they lose their great leader, Taiwan will have no one it can depend on. In introducing a variety of administrative achievements, instead of showing ordinary street views and pedestrians, the film features how government officials inspected the infrastructure construction in different places and demonstrates how people behaved in collective activities. The students move their bodies in the same way on the sports field and leave school side by side in lines, and the soldiers stand still on the training field. People’s bodies seem to have been disciplined by the oppressive political atmosphere, which forced them to behave in an orderly fashion that seems suffocating.

Different colonizers of different periods showed completely different versions of the same land of Taiwan.


Different national flags were held in these family photos taken before and after the Second World War. In comparing the two photos, taken within just a few short years of each other, the changes and absurdity of the times can be felt.(Photo credit: Turbulence and Annihilation: Democratic Road of the Generation of the February 28 Incident (authored by Huang Hui-Chun))


Southward Expansion to Taiwan

Southward Expansion to Taiwan is a propaganda documentary film supported by the Taiwan Governor’s Office. Its main purpose was to enable Japanese people to deeply understand Taiwan, the cornerstone of Japan’s southward expansion policies. In the film, the audience is taken on a railway journey around the island, along the way catching glimpses of seven prefectures (Taihoku, Shinchiku, Taichu, Tainan, Takao, Karenko and Taito) and their local customs, industries, infrastructure, geography, cultural landscape, natural beauty, and natural resources. This film is an effort to showcase the modernization achievements of the Japanese rule

The film promotes the importance of "civilization" and the convenience brought about by industrialization. It also demonstrates how Japanese people implemented their colonial and educational policies in Taiwan. While displaying Taiwan as the base for Japan’s southward expansion policies, the filmmaker did not forget to celebrate the newly-established Manchukuo and the success of Japan’s northward expansion endeavor, making clear Japan’s attempt to establish a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Southward Expansion to Taiwan, which deliberately chose positive, beautiful images and only highlighted how Taiwanese enjoyed the fruits of the modernization process, was a political tool for the colonial government to publicize its administrative achievements, so its portrayal of the island was not completely objective. Nonetheless, even though it is a propaganda film, its detailed narration and real footage still makes it valuable as a form of visual history documenting Taiwanese society during the 1930s and 1940s.


Today's Taiwan

Today’s Taiwan was made in 1969 by Taiwan Film Culture Co., a company that created many important visual records of Taiwan from the 1950s to 1980s. Taiwan Film Culture Co. mainly produced newsreels, documentary films and educational films for the Taiwan Provincial Government. Before the popularization of television in the 1970s, the only news video footage available to the Taiwanese populace was solely made by Taiwan Film Culture Co. These films were screened before movies started in cinemas, playing a role in national policy promotion and political propaganda for the one-party state during the martial law period.

Today’s Taiwan introduces the education system, the Chinese Cultural Renaissance Movement, the construction of transportation and hydraulic facilities, the development of agriculture, fishery, and animal husbandry industries, and land exploitation, as well as constantly praises how, under the great leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, Taiwan had become the strongest anti-communist fortress in Asia and a model province of China that followed Sun Yat-sen’s ideas. However, behind the impassioned music in the background, there was actually the suffocating atmosphere of the White Terror permeating this anti-communist fortress, which is what Taiwan was called by the Nationalist government.

In 1960, Chiang Kai-shek unconstitutionally sought to run for the third term of his presidency. In the same year, Lei Chen, who had attempted to organize a new party, was arrested by the Taiwan Garrison Command under suspicion of rebellion and Lei Chen’s periodical Free China was suspended immediately afterwards. In 1964, Peng Ming-min, Wei Ting-chao, and Hsieh Tsung-min were put behind bars after they printed A Declaration of Formosan Self-salvation, before they could even hand out their declaration. Under authoritarian rule, Taiwanese people were forced to keep quiet and asked by their government to become just like the “real Chinese” shown in Today’s Taiwan. In reality, the societal environment of the time differed greatly to the seemingly prosperous scenes in the film. This was a time replete with dismay and depression.