Emperor Hirohito’s voice could be heard through radios across the Japanese Empire that day, including Taiwan. Not everyone had radios back then, but those who did didn’t hesitate to spread the news. It was Aug. 15, 1945, and Japan had officially announced its surrender to the Allies.
A much contested outcome of the Cairo Declaration of 1943 is that Taiwan, which Qing Dynasty China ceded to Japan in the treaty of Shimonoseki following its defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War, would return to China, then ruled by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Although KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) appointed Chen Yi (陳儀) as governor general of Taiwan on Aug. 29, Chen didn’t land until Oct. 24. The next day, he formally accepted the Japanese governor-general’s surrender.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
While the KMT was busy planning its arrival, what was going on in Taiwan between Aug. 15 and Oct. 25?
AFTER THE SURRENDER
The Taiwanese attitude toward the newcomers varies depending on who you ask, and will not be discussed here. Most sources agree, though, that the majority of people were more than happy to see the Japanese go.
Photos: Han Cheung,Taipei Times
Sources point to a short-lived Taiwanese independence attempt right after the surrender was announced, where Japanese military officers allegedly plotted with prominent Taiwanese to resist the Chinese takeover, though the level of Taiwanese involvement is disputed. This plan was abandoned just a week later after governor-general Ando Rikishi publicly warned against any such actions.
Historian and author Tseng Chien-min (曾建民) writes in 1945: Taiwan at Daybreak (1945: 破曉時候的台灣) that at least for the first 20 days, all Japanese colonial government activities went on as usual, as if nothing had changed. Tseng says that it was the Japanese police and members of the Japan-friendly volunteer fighting corps who kept social order during that time.
Because of that, Tseng says that Taiwanese were wary of celebrating openly at first, only doing so after the surrender was formally signed on Sept. 2.
Photo: Han Cheung,Taipei Times
Tseng says that as Japanese power waned, social order fell into the hands of local groups such as the Three Principles Youth Group (三民主義青年團).
According to History of Taiwan under Japanese Rule by Suemitsu Kazuya, on Sept. 1, 18 US and Chinese soldiers and officials arrived to liberate surviving Allied prisoners of war. More US troops landed for the same purpose on Sept. 5 and Sept. 7.
On Sept. 14, staff with the Taiwan Takeover Preparation Committee (台灣接收準備委員會) landed, making contact with the remaining Japanese military. Between Sept. 20 and Sept. 26, between 200 and 300 KMT troops occupied airports in Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi and Pingtung.
Taiwan’s only newspaper at that time, the Japanese-language Taiwan Shin Pao (台灣新報) published its first Chinese article on Oct. 2. By Oct. 10, Chinese had become the paper’s main language.
The entirely Chinese Min Pao (民報) was established on Oct. 10, and was known for being progressive and outspoken.
Committees to welcome the new government sprung up in various cities, making and delivering Republic of China (ROC) flags to offices and schools, putting up patriotic banners and teaching locals to speak Mandarin. According to a Min Pao article, almost 4,000 people showed up to a Mandarin class on Oct. 21.
What many call the “government-less” period lasted until Oct. 6, when the Taiwan Garrison Command’s (台灣警備總司令部) forward command (前進指揮所) arrived. It immediately issued several orders, including that administrative and legal functions were to still be carried out by the Japanese governor-general’s office until Chen Yi’s arrival and that all public functions such as traffic and mail should remain operating as usual. Education was to continue as before, with the exception that anything that challenged the ROC’s “status or educational philosophy” should be deleted.
Taiwanese observed Double Ten National Day for the first time with a huge celebration at the Taipei Public Assembly Hall, which is now Zhongshan Hall (中山堂).
More troops continued to arrive in Taiwan over the following few weeks, and spirits remained high, paving the way for Chen Yi’s big day. What happened in the next few years is another story.
OTHER EVENTS THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
Construction on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway began on Aug. 14, 1971, taking seven years to complete. Two oft-visited spots in the country opened to the public on Aug. 10, 1979: Leofoo Village Safari Park (六福村野生動物園) and Provincial Highway 2, better known as North Coastal Highway (北部濱海公路).
Until this summer, when the idea of hiking the length of the island first occurred to me, I didn’t even know that Cijin (旗津) had been a peninsula until 1967. That’s when diggers and dredgers severed Cijin from Taiwan’s “mainland,” because the authorities wished to create a southern entrance to Kaohsiung’s fast expanding port. The island is just under 9km long, but a bit of research quickly convinced me that a south-to-north trek wasn’t a good idea. The southern third of Cijin is dominated by container-lifting cranes, warehouses and other facilities off-limits to the public. Dunhe Street (敦和街) forms the boundary between
As if the climbs and views and snacks and companions of cycling in Taiwan aren’t sufficient, the GPS-generation of route-planners are now using apps such as Strava and Endomondo to create works of art as they ride. One such is nicknamed the Dove Road of Sijhih (汐鴿路), a 25km ride that follows the riverside bike path from the Nangang-Neihu Bridge (南湖橋) to New Taipei City’s Sijhih District (汐止), climbs around 400m up the Sijhih-Shiding Road (汐碇路), before dropping back down past Academia Sinica to generate a very dove-like pattern. Originally called Kippanas by indigenous Ketagalan people and transliterated into Hoklo (more commonly
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a way urban households can obtain healthy produce, while helping to build a more sustainable farming sector in Taiwan. King Hsin-i’s (金欣儀) transformation from advertising copywriter to social entrepreneur began in 2008, when she visited a rice farmer who practiced pesticide-free agriculture. “He explained that we have to leave space for other species. At the same time, I realized that while big companies have budgets to spread their messages, farmers have few chances to tell the public about their beautiful concepts,” she recalls. Inspired, she quit her job and traveled throughout rural Taiwan for a year. King went
If ever there was a reason to be inside on Mid-Autumn Festival, even for just an hour or so, while still celebrating the natural world, Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍) has provided one with his first full-length work for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) as artistic director, Sounding Light (定光). Judging by the excerpt performed for the press last week, Cheng shows he can be just as minimalistic as his mentor, troupe founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民), while still forging his own unique path. Just as he did with last year’s Lunar Halo (毛月亮), his final work as director of Cloud Gate 2 (雲門2), Cheng