Japanese Colonialism in Taiwan: Land Tenure, Development, and Dependency, 1895-1945

Japanese Colonialism in Taiwan: Land Tenure, Development, and Dependency, 1895-1945

Japanese Colonialism in Taiwan: Land Tenure, Development, and Dependency, 1895-1945

Japanese Colonialism in Taiwan: Land Tenure, Development, and Dependency, 1895-1945

Synopsis

Exploring the dynamics of development and dependency, this book traces the experience of Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule. Chih-ming Ka shows how, unlike in other sugar-producing colonies, Taiwan was able to sustain its indigenous family farms and small-scale rice millers, who not only survived but thrived in competition with Japanese sugar capital. Focusing on Taiwan's success, the author reassesses theories of capitalist transformation of colonial agriculture and reconceptualizes the relationship between colonial and indigenous socioeconomic and political forces. Considering the influence of sugar on the evolution of family farms and the contradictory relationship between sugar and rice production, he explores the interplay of class forces to explain the unique experience of colonial Taiwan.

Excerpt

Sidney W. Mintz

Upon this meticulously researched history of Taiwanese agriculture Dr. Ka has bestowed the title of Japanese Colonialism in Taiwan. That is indeed what it is about; but I believe that it is also about much more. I would like to suggest here by way of a foreword what else it is that Dr. Ka teaches us in this work. When the Japanese seized Taiwan -- or, as it was known in the West at the time and for long after, Formosa -- it was a precious spoil of their successful first war of aggression against China. From 1895 until the end of the Second World War and its reversion to China, almost fifty years to the day, Formosa remained a Japanese colony.

Since this book deals primarily with the period of Japanese rule, it has not been mistitled. But its core theses deal mainly with the history of Taiwanese agriculture, and with those special forms of imperialist meddling in the agrarian economy initiated under Japanese rule. The purpose of such "reforms" was to enrich the metropolis; to provide investment space for eager Japanese capital; to increase productivity (and, thereby, taxable wealth); and to service the agricultural needs of the mother country. To what extent such changes succeeded, and how and why they failed, together provide an engrossing story; Dr. Ka has told it here in a precise and economical manner.

The Japanese colonial system, as it unfolded in Taiwan, has been credited by various authorities with distinctive achievements. In carefully evaluating the record, Dr. Ka affords the reader a detailed overview of what, in his view, actually did happen. His findings differ noticeably from those of other scholars. Beginning with Lenin's and Kautsky's rather abstract predictions about the proletarianization of the rural sector following the penetration of capitalism, and continuing with the varying positions of the dependency theorists, the students of peripheral capitalism, and contemporary observers of recent Taiwanese agricultural history, the author offers us his own highly original interpretation. His disagreements with other authorities, though important, are perhaps less . . .

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