Through their extensive colonization, which began in the late nineteenth century, the Japanese acquired considerable experience in interacting with the peoples of Asia and Oceania. What did these encounters mean for the Japanese colonials? And what has this contact meant for those who lived under Japanese colonial rule?
With the exception of Hokkaido and Okinawa, Taiwan was the first colonial territory acquired by Japan as a result of war with another nation. Among the territories colonized by Japan, Taiwan's colonial period (1895-1945) lasted the longest. Unlike most postcolonial situations, however, the Taiwanese people have retained a relatively amiable attitude toward Japan after the end of colonial rule. This attitude is frequently mentioned in travel accounts and guidebooks written by the Japanese who visited Taiwan after the war (for example, Shiba 1994; Daiyamondo Sha 1997). In the few scholarly writings dealing with Japanese colonial rule, this attitude has often been held in contrast with postcolonial Korean sentiments toward the Japanese (Tsurumi 1984; Peattie 1996). These comparisons tend to search for an explanation of this difference in the dissimilar ruling methods used in the colonies. This chapter will address the issue from a different direction: through the use of testimonies and confessions made in the postcolonial era, I intend to delineate the complicated struggle for humanity under colonialism and the cultural multiplicity in its aftermath.
The ethnic composition of postwar Taiwan is rather complicated, with Han and Austronesians constituting the two major ethnic categories. 1 This chapter will limit its scope to the non-Han peoples, namely the Austronesians, who have been praised by some Japanese as "the most friendly of peoples toward Japan in the whole world." (Ishibashi 1992). 2 It is especially noteworthy that Austronesian veterans of World War II whom I have interviewed often proudly emphasized their Yamatodamashi (literally, "soul of the Yamato people") or Nipponseishin ("Japanese spirit"). Such terms are still currently used in their discourses, even as they have grown obsolete in postwar Japanese society.
The subject of this chapter is a group of these Taiwan Austronesians known as the "Takasago-Giyutai," who volunteered for service in the Japanese military during World War II. In the 1990s, five books giving accounts of the