Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. Abe has widely been regarded as ‘the Prime Minister who is most supportive of Taiwan’. Not only had he been an advocate for legitimatising Taiwan’s status on the international ground on many occasions, but he also made the renowned statement during a video conference with the Taiwan Institute for National Policy Studies in 2021 that ‘if something happens to Taiwan, it means something happens to Japan’. Hence, although the news of Abe’s assassination sent shockwaves worldwide, the political implications of his untimely death on the future trajectory of Taiwan-Japan warrant further investigation.
Written by Li-Hsuan Cheng. On July 8th 2022, Abe Shinzo, the longest serving prime minister in postwar Japan, was assassinated while campaigning for an LDP candidate in the coming election for Upper House. While this tragic incident shocked countries worldwide, few societies like Taiwan showed such strong and wide remorse. Even in Japan, where Mr Abe had enjoyed unprecedentedly high and long support, like most leaders of democratic countries, he could not escape scandals and policy failures that eventually damaged his public support. However, despite some criticisms of Abe’s attitude toward war responsibilities in Taiwan, the mainstream society largely held a very favourable view toward him. One obvious reason is the significant progress in the Japan-Taiwan relation during his terms as prime minister.
Written by Wei-Hsiu Huang. In addition, more complicated multilateral relations are involved in this issue. They are the relations between Japan and the People’s Republic of China, cross-Strait relations, and the Japan-US Alliance. As for the Japan-US Alliance, Japan is obligated to abide by the Japan-US Security Treaty, and the US insisted on a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait relations. To make it clear in the discussion, I will divide the developing process into three periods: the first period from the post-war period to the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, the second from the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Japan and China to the democratisation of Taiwan, and the third one from the 1990s to the present. This essay will proceed with an overview and analysis of the complex relationship between Japan and Taiwan in the post-war period.
Written by Wen-Kai Lin. With the development of Taiwan’s democratisation in the late 1980s, Taiwan historians have been able to transcend the Chinese nationalist historiography of the past Kuomintang government and carry out historical research with Taiwan’s multi-ethnic groups as the equal subjects of historical interpretation. However, many researchers only focus on Taiwan itself, which inevitably ignores Taiwan’s relationship with East Asian history and world history and narrows the broader temporal and spatial significance of Taiwan research. This article attempts to take the exchange of East Asian knowledge of Taiwan’s modern governance from the late Qing Dynasty to the Japanese colonial period as a new research agenda to reveal that the research on Taiwan history is often not only Taiwan history but also a complex manifestation of wider East Asian history and world history.
Written by Ko-Hang Liao. On 8 July 2022, former Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Shinzō Abe (安倍晋三) was killed by an assassin’s homemade gun during his midspeech of campaign held in Nara to support a Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) candidate for upper house election two days later. As a result, this longest-serving Japanese PM (in office (2012-2020) after a brief first tenure (2006-2007), surpassed the record held by his great uncle Eisaku Satō (佐藤栄作) from 1964 to 1972) is recognised by the public as the most Taiwan-friendly premier, a transformational leader, and the founder of Indo-Pacific strategy. By introducing Abe’s distinct roles, this article looks at Taiwan-Japan relations during and after Abe’s administration, the impact he brought to Japan’s postwar pacifism by rebuilding Japan’s role in global power-politics, his legacy in the post-Abe era, and future relations between two countries.
Written by Kuan-Jen Chen. On 8 July 2022, two gunshots not only ended Japan’s former prime minister Abe Shinzo’s life but also convulsed international politics in East Asia. The debates on Kishida Fumio’s diplomatic policy and the power reshuffling within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have had the share of the international spotlight for their inextricable connections with Taiwan and the East Asian region. The amicable relationship between Japan and Taiwan is well-renowned. If you stroll in any city in Japan, it is not hard to find a slogan banner of “Thank you, Taiwan!” to express Japan’s appreciation for Taiwan’s help after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Ten years later, when Taiwan underwent the grave hours of the pandemic, Japan, pushed by Abe Shinzo, generously provided vaccines for Taiwan, saving numerous lives. These instances mark that these two countries seemingly have an unbreakable official relationship. However, the fact is that historically and politically speaking, Japan has been maintaining a distant but close relationship with Taiwan.
Written by Ti-han Chang. 11:30 am on the 08th of July in Japan, unexpected news of Shinzo Abe 安倍晉三 being shot during his public speech travelled quickly on the international news media. However, the very fact of this happening has profoundly shaken societies in the East Asian region. For Japan, it appears there is a need to reflect deeper on the homogeneous nature of its internal political structure; for other countries in the region, on their indissociable geopolitical dynamics with their close neighbour over the last few decades.
Written by Robert Hoppens. Just before midnight on April 5, 1975, Chiang Kai-shek (b. 1887), long-time leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and president of the Republic of China (ROC), died at his home in Taipei at the age of 87. Around the world, Chiang’s death occasioned media retrospectives on his long career and speculation about the future of Taiwan, where his government had spent the last quarter-century in exile.
Written By Lilian Tsay. The Japanese empire’s importance placed on the Taiwanese sugar industry can be seen in the design of the 1935 “40 years of colonial rule” exhibition, which had a whole section dedicated to the sugar industry and provided free sugar water to visitors. The sugar industry was a crucial part of the colonial economy; it also heavily impacted Japan’s dietary customs. Japan did not produce its own white sugar. Before the Meiji era, deserts in Japan were made using either dark sugar from Okinawa, wasanbon from Shikoku, or from white sugar imported from Southern China. Just as described in “Southward Expansion to Taiwan,” only with Taiwan’s help could Japan’s confectionery industry successfully develop alongside the expanding Japanese empire.
Written by Fumiko Sasaki. After almost eight years, Yoshihide Suga became the Japanese prime minister after Shinzo Abe stepped down. This change happened amid a pandemic and a geopolitical crisis. While states have been preoccupied with Covid-19, China has become more aggressive globally. In light of the US presidential election, the Trump administration has toughened its attitude toward China. In Japan, Taro Kono – the Defence Minister until mid-September – called China a ‘security threat,’ the first time China was officially labelled as such. Suga is reported to be ready to talk to the President of Taiwan. Will Suga be tougher on China?
Written by YU Nai-Hui. My PhD studies involved anthropological fieldwork in Japan focused on the social issues of Wansei 湾生, a Japanese term referring to Japanese born in Taiwan before 1945. The term Wansei became an overnight sensation in Taiwan following the release of the documentary film Wansei: Back Home (2015).
Written by Euan Graham. Taiwan is central to the security and strategic geography of the Indo-Pacific, perhaps even to the future development of democracy in the region. It remains an economy of significant weight. Yet, as a “stateless” entity, it suffers from a double identity, confined to margins of the region’s international affairs.