|Alliance||Axis - Minor Member Nation or Possession|
|Entry into WW2||7 Jul 1937|
|Population in 1939||5,500,000|
|Military Deaths in WW2||30,304|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Taiwan, also referred to as "Formosa" by Westerners during this period (from Portuguese Ilha Formosa, the name given by 16th Century Portuguese explorers), had been a Japanese colony since the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on 17 Apr 1895 at the end of the First Sino-Japanese War. Resistance against Japanese occupation was heavy at first, but by 1902 most of the Chinese resistance groups were wiped out. Various uprisings took place in the following years, but Japanese policy was able to calm a significant portion of the Chinese population. In general, the virtual dictatorship under the rule of Tokyo-appointed Governor Generals developed Taiwan as a model colony, which was Japan's first. Taiwan's infrastructure was the initial main focus, followed by the development of agriculture so that Taiwan could export sugar and rice to Japan's growing population. In the mid-1930s, a limited democracy was introduced in an attempt to shape Taiwan as Japan's model colony. Around this time, Taiwan was also allowed to develop its industry to feed the needs of the growing Japanese military. When the Second Sino-Japanese War erupted in Jul 1937, the efforts to assimilate the local society into the Japanese population were stepped up. To that end, in 1940, the colonial government encouraged parents to give their children Japanese names and in 1942 schools were desegregated so that Chinese and aborigine children would be taught by Japanese teachers. Also in 1942, Chinese and aborigine men in Taiwan were encouraged to enlist in the Japanese military; according to statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, 207,183 Taiwanese served in the Japanese military between 1937 and 1945, and 30,304 of them were killed or missing in action. By 1944, due to Japanese efforts, Taiwan enjoyed the second highest enrollment rate for elementary school-aged children, trailing behind only Japan. While punishment for insurgency had always been dealt with harshly and swiftly, during the war years brutal punishment was given for any sign of disobedience. Large numbers of women from Taiwan were recruited as Comfort Women during the war, which still causes political tension between the Republic of China and Japan today.
Both the Japanese Army and the Japanese Navy developed Taiwan from a military sense. The ports of Keelung (Kirun or Kiirun in Japanese) and Takau (Takao in Japanese, now renamed Kaohsiung in Mandarin Chinese) were originally developed by the Japanese into major commercial ports but by this time were also served as main naval bases; at the opening chapters of the war, many of the amphibious missions against British Malaya and Philippine Islands were launched from these two ports. The Japanese Army and Navy airfields on the island also attracted American bombing especially during the American invasion of the Philippine Islands and Okinawa, Japan.
When the war ended in 1945, Taiwan's agricultural output fell to 49% of 1937 levels, industrial output fell to 66%, coal production fell from 200,000 metric tons to 15,000, and electricity production fell from 320 kilowatts to 30; this was largely caused by Allied bombing.
After the Japanese surrender, Taiwan was formally returned to Republic of China control on 25 Oct 1945, ending 50 years of Japanese occupation. There were about 309,000 Japanese living in Taiwan in 1938; nearly all were deported back to Japan after the 1945 surrender. 173 Taiwanese members of the Japanese military were found guilty of war crimes; 26 of them were given death sentences. Of the 30,304 Taiwanese killed during the war while serving in the Japanese military, at least 26,000 of them were enshrined at Yasukuni in Tokyo, Japan.
Administrative Divisions Under Japanese Occupation & Gazetteer
Taiwan was annexed by Japan prior to the outbreak of WW2. It was divided into eight prefectures (five shu and three cho, both of which were translated as "prefecture" in English). Because Taiwan was Chinese prior to 1895, Japanese between 1895 and 1945, and Chinese once again after 1945, some names of places had changed. To the westerner, the changes were even greater for that those names that had not changed in the written language had changed in pronunciation (ie. Japanese reading vs. Chinese reading of the same Kanji/Hanzi characters). Thus, the following could also serve as a gazetteer as a cross referencing aid.
|Japanese Name||Prefecture Type||Chinese Name (Postal Map/Pinyin)||Japanese Pop.||Chinese & Aboriginal Pop.||Korean Pop.||Other Pop.||Total Pop.|
The above population figures came from the Showa 16 (1941) census. The total population was 6,249.468, which showed a marked growth from 1939, which was about 5,500,000.
The prefectures were each broken up into cities, subprefectures, and districts in the second tier of each administrative division. Some of the major ones are as follows.
|Japanese Name||Parent Prefecture||Division Type||Chinese Name (Postal Map/Pinyin)|
Partial list of smaller localities:
- Tamsui: A district in Taihoku City, Taihoku Prefecture during occupation; now Tamsui District, New Taipei City.
- Suo: A town in Giran City, Taihoku Prefecture during occupation; now Su'ao Township, Yilan County.
- Matsuyama: A village in Taihoku Prefecture during occupation, but was incorporated into Taihoku City in 1938; now Songshan District and Xinyi District, Taipei City.
- Toen: A district in Shinchiku Prefecture during occupation; now Taoyuan City.
- Toyohara: A district in Taichu Prefecture during occupation; now Fengyuan District, Taichung County.
- Hokuto: A district in Shoka City, Taichu Prefecture during occupation; now Beidou Township, Changhua County.
- Nanto: A district in Taichu Prefecture during occupation; now Nantou City, Nantou County.
- Niitaka: A district in Taichu Prefecture during occupation, encompassed the highest peak in Taiwan, which lent its name to one of the coded messages leading up to the Pearl Harbor strike; now broken up to Jiji, Shuili, Yuchi, and Xinyi Townships, Nantou County.
- Ujitsu: A village in Daiton District, Taichu City, Taichu Prefecture during occupation; now Wuri District, Taichung County.
- Hozan: A district in Takao Prefecture during occupation; now Fengshan District, Kaohsiung City.
- Okayama: A district in Takao Prefecture during occupation; now Gangshan District and Qiaotou District, Kaohsiung City.
- Toko: A district in Heito City, Takao Prefecture during occupation; now Donggang Township, Pingtung County.
- Koshun: A town in Heito City, Takao Prefecture during occupation; now Hengchun Township, Pingtung County.
Relocation of the Republic of China to Taiwan
In Mar 1946, the Chinese Civil War restarted in mainland China, which ultimately ended in a Communist victory. The Republic of China withdrew to Taiwan on 10 Dec 1949. The Nationalists were able to transfer quantities of gold reserves and various cultural treasures to Taiwan before they could be captured by the Communists. The Republic of China still remains in Taiwan today with the capital in the city of Taipei; mainland China today is occupied by a new country established by the victorious Communist forces.
Related Article: History of the Republic of China on the Chinese Mainland
|Koo, Hsien-Jung||Lin, Hsiung-cheng|
|Lan, Gaochuan||Xie, Jieshi|
Events Taken Place in Taiwan
|Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign||22 Oct 1944 - 21 Dec 1944|
|Philippines Campaign, Phase 2||12 Dec 1944 - 15 Aug 1945|
|Raid into the South China Sea||10 Jan 1945 - 20 Jan 1945|
|Japan's Surrender||14 Aug 1945 - 2 Sep 1945|
|Mako Guard District||Naval Port|
|Okayama Aircraft Factory||Airfield, Factory|
|Taihoku General Government Building||Government Building|
|Taihoku Prison||Prison Camp|
|Taihoku Prisoner of War Camp No 6||Prison Camp|
|Takao Guard District||Naval Port|
|Takao Seaplane Base||Airfield|
|Tamsui Seaplane Base||Airfield|
Taiwan in World War II Interactive Map
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943