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Pro-colonial or Postcolonial? Appropriation of Japanese Colonial Heritage in Present-day Taiwan

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  • Yoshihisa Amae

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Abstract

Since the end of World War II, the Kuomintang (KMT) (Guomindang) government has erased all traces of Japanese rule from public space, deeming them “poisonous†to the people in Taiwan. This frenzy, often termed “de-Japanization†or qu Ribenhua in Chinese, included the destruction and alteration of Japanese structures. Yet, with democratization in the 1990s, the Japanese past has been revisited, and many Japa-nese structures have been reconstructed and preserved. This paper examines the social phenomenon of preserving Japanese heritage in present-day Taiwan. It mainly investigates religious/ spiritual architecture, such as Shinto shrines and martial arts halls (Butokuden), war monuments and Japanese statues and busts. A close investigation of these monuments finds that many of them are not restored and preserved in their original form but in a deformed/ transformed one. This finding leads the paper to conclude that the phenomenon is a postcolonial endeavour, rather than being “pro-colonial†, and that the preservation of Japanese heritage contributes to the construction and consolidation of a Taiwan-centric historiography in which Taiwan is imagined as multicultural and hybrid.

Suggested Citation

  • Yoshihisa Amae, 2011. "Pro-colonial or Postcolonial? Appropriation of Japanese Colonial Heritage in Present-day Taiwan," Journal of Current Chinese Affairs - China aktuell, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 40(1), pages 19-62.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:chaktu:v:40:y:2011:i:1:p:19-62
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    File URL: http://hup.sub.uni-hamburg.de/giga/jcca/article/view/403/401
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