In the past, not much importance has been attached to buildings such as these that were built toward the end of Japanese rule. That is because, when government power was handed over after the war ended, they were different from earlier buildings in that they were very new, being less than 10 years old. For this reason, the significance of their existence in the city is only beginning to be recognized now, more than 60 years later.
Sadly, given the things that have been done in Taipei over the past few years, probably nobody imagines that we can really preserve the city’s history. All we can do is modestly implore government officials not to demolish every historic building and chop down every tree when it is handing over the sites that it wants to develop into Roppongi clones.
We can ask them to give those of us who still care a little about our city’s history a chance to go in and have a look. At least, before they erase every last trace of the city’s historical memories, perhaps they would be so kind as to let its citizens go in and record the fact that this city once had a past.
Hung Chih-wen is an associate professor of geography at National Taiwan Normal University.
Translated by Julian Clegg