History Background (Historical Trauma)
Many countries in the Asian, African, and Latin-American continents continue to nurse unpleasant memories from the colonial times. These memories are based on a narrative of massive humiliation and torment that people in the colonized nations were forced to go through for years. The concept of historical trauma rose in the 1980s where it was used to describe the experiences of the First Nations and Aboriginal peoples of Canada. These people had endured nasty experiences under the European imperialists.
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The experiences included slavery, loss of culture (“cultural genocide”), and forced separation of family members. The first contact between the Europeans and indigenous peoples in American was characterized by a massive loss of life caused by numerous infections, as well as violent encounters. The violence witnessed at the time has come to be referred as the American Indian Catastrophe (Reyhner & Eder, 2015). The European settlers established harsh policies that were aimed at suppressing the indigenous people culturally. Forced assimilation was also carried out to get the indigenous people to abandon their culture.
Today, historical trauma is used to describe a wide range of cumulative emotional attitudes that are associated with harmful experiences that are endured by a certain community. These experiences span generations. They have not been eased by the passage of time. Often, victims of historical trauma may demonstrate harmful behavior such as substance abuse and/or harboring suicidal thoughts. Historical trauma may also be demonstrated as anger directed toward the historical perpetrator of the injustices suffered by the victims’ community. Victims of injustice perceive the existence of unresolved injustices. The result is that they feel worthless and hopeless. There is also a common belief among victims of historical trauma that they are still subject to modern oppression by the imperialists, despite the times having changed. For instance, victims may blame their economic woes on these historical events even though they happened a long time ago. For instance, the Chinese remember the time Japan colonized them with feelings of bitterness. The “Never Forget Humiliation” slogan is chanted to revive memories of Japan’s ruthless occupation of the country (Wang, 2012).
Historical trauma has gained importance in the contemporary society because of its cumulative nature. Descendants of the oppressed people have been shown to exhibit emotional and psychological signs of historical trauma. Therefore, despite these events happening long into the past, they have the ability to shape the present and future relations between the historically oppressed and the oppressor. For instance, in the United States, a strong mistrust still exists between the descendants of former slaves and those of former colonial masters. The black community in the US has constantly accused the police (most of whom are whites) of targeting the community unfairly. In fact, the recent wave of unjustified police shootings against black males may support this accusation. African-Americans have also demonstrated self-hatred by being aggressive and violent against fellow African-Americans.
The instances discussed above are only a few of historical events that have resulted in trauma for generations of people in a specific community or tribe. This paper seeks to explore the subject of historical trauma in the context of Japanese colonization of Taiwan. Despite the Taiwanese people having been exposed to massive trauma by the oppressive Japanese rule, the available evidence shows an affinity toward Japan. This attitude by the Taiwanese is unique from the general attitude that any oppressed people tend to portray toward their historical tyrant. Some scholars such as Wang (2012) attribute the nostalgia by the Taiwanese people toward Japanese colonial era on unsuccessful decolonization efforts. The rise of China above Japan is also suspected to be pushing Taiwan toward Japan. This paper will also examine the general attitude of the Koreans and the Chinese toward Japan.
Taiwanese Reaction to Japanese Occupation
The dawn of 2016 marked the 71st anniversary since Japan surrendered its rule of Taiwan, amidst “regrets” for Japan’s past deeds. Japan had ruled the country between 1895 and 1945. The era was marked by the brutality and oppression that was witnessed in China and Korea, which were under Japanese rule at the time. The Japanese occupation of the East Asian countries is almost always viewed as a monolith of hardship. However, this finding does not hold when it comes to Taiwan. While China and Korea may portray Japanese occupation as a period of savagery and exploitation, many Taiwanese memorize the Japanese imperialism rather fondly. In Taiwan, May 8th is celebrated with a positive recount of events that transpired between the former master and servant. Scholars have emphasized the lack of definite explanation for this positive attitude toward Japan (Wang, 2012). Instead, a series of positive interactions between the two nations is credited for this general attitude.
Japanese Policy/ Infrastructure in Taiwan
Politics takes the center stage in every discussion relating to the complicated affair between Taiwan and Japan. During its reign in Taiwan, Japan was dedicated to improving the infrastructure of Taiwan. Many of the buildings that were constructed at the time still exist, bespeaking of an era of economic progression (Wilkins, 2012). During the Japanese era in Taiwan, the standards of living rose drastically, causing pro-Japanese feelings to develop among many Taiwanese. When Japan was taking over Taiwan, the latter country had modern economy.
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This situation encouraged the Japanese to establish their rule in Taiwan as part of stamping their position in East Asia. Because Japan was investing immensely in Taiwan, its economy expanded faster compared to the previous times. It is important to note that for most of Taiwan’s history, the country had been under the colonial rule. Before Japan took over Taiwan, the country was being ruled by China. However, China had not shown much keenness on empowering Taiwan economically. Conversely, Japan’s policy in Taiwan was that of promoting economic development and literacy.
Japan introduced an industrial revolution in Taiwan. Factories were built, which created employment opportunities while at the same time easing the processing of goods. In addition, roads, power plants, and harbors were constructed. With growth in infrastructure came a strong culture of capitalism. Japanese companies established a competitive market for raw materials and finished goods in Taiwan. As a result, crops such as rice and sugar emerged as major revenue earners for Taiwan’s economy. Additionally, the Tokyo government deployed 37.4 million yen within thirteen years to develop Taiwan’s economy.
By 1905, over 30.48 million yen had been invested in Taiwan, thus rendering the country nearly self-sufficient. This amount would be equivalent to $20 billion yen today. In return for its massive investment and infrastructural development, the Japanese government hoped to assimilate Taiwan completely. Japan also benefited directly from the export of sugar to the Japanese markets. Sugar production in Taiwan had increased threefold since Japan began injecting investment into the sector. Even though the trade between Japan and Taiwan was imbalanced in favor of the former country, it was far from the exploitation, which Taiwan was to experience from China in later years.
Taiwan’s industrial expansion is attributed to the Japanese occupation. By 1920, the Japanese were constructing modern factories, as well as modernizing the previously constructed ones. Japanese investment and technology played an important role in this modernization effort. In addition to creating employment for Taiwan’s population, these factories financed industrial unit hospitals, which were used to treat factory workers. This move boosted the health of the country. The hospitals also doubled up as a source of employment for the Taiwanese. Taiwanese workers also received the basic training and skills to work in factories, which they would later use to run their domestic companies.
Japanese educational policy in Taiwan is often regarded as having been repressive against the Taiwanese. However, many Taiwanese believe that the education system introduced by the Japanese played an important role in empowering the nation. Classes were instructed in kokugo, the Japanese national language. Opponents of this education system argue that it imposed unnecessarily severe punishments on Taiwanese students.
However, those who defend the Japanese education policy system argue that the stringent measures adopted reflected the Japanese national values as opposed to prejudice against Taiwan students. Indeed, the Japanese schools are famous for their severe punishment (Yoneyama, 2012). The Japanese education policy resulted in more benefits relative to the perceived harms. For instance, schools in Taiwan were more developed compared to those in China. As early as the 1890s, Japan had achieved a nearly universal primary education, which they exported to Taiwan. Unlike education in China, which was only available to the affluent, the new education system in Taiwan accommodated all people (“common schools”). Nevertheless, passing the language proficiency test proved difficult for Taiwanese students, thus limiting the number of those who could advance to middle schools.
Japan pursued a policy of non-oppression in Taiwan. For instance, the education system allowed Taiwanese students to be taught Taiwanese geography and Chinese history. Importantly, the Taiwanese were allowed to continue their indigenous practices such as guaahi (Taiwanese opera). While the Japanese viewed the Taiwanese people and culture as inferior, the feeling stemmed out of economic and technological advancement as opposed to racial superiority. Therefore, the Taiwanese felt that the Japanese were more respectful to them compared to the Chinese. Importantly, Japan was running a campaign of empowering Taiwan to achieve similar status as Japan. Japan’s rule in Taiwan was also considerably less oppressive relative to the previous colonial powers. For instance, between 1895 and 1897, Japan provided a “grace period” for those Taiwanese who did not wish to be ruled by Japan to relocate with their property to China. To promote further cooperation between Japan and Taiwan, Japanese officials to Taiwan were required to speak in fluent Taiwanese. This approach by the Japanese was in sharp contrast with what the harsh and exploitative rule by the Chinese, before and after Japan’s exit.
Taiwanese Attitude/Public Opinion toward Japan (Public Diplomacy)
One of the long-term impacts of the Japanese rule of Taiwan is that many Taiwanese are pro-Japanese. Today, Japan and Taiwan maintain close friendly ties that are built on the shared history. During the 70th anniversary of the Taiwan independence, in 2015, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-Jeou expressed the country’s appreciation of the developments that Japan initiated in the country, including water dams. The statement by Ying-Jeou sums up the general attitude of the Taiwanese people toward Japan. The Taiwanese see the Japanese as having had the Taiwan’s economic interests at heart as opposed to China, which is viewed as oppressive. Today, China continues to claim Taiwan as part of its territory, which has increased the resentment of Taiwanese people toward China.
Popular culture contributes to the young Taiwanese’s positive regard for Japan. For over two decades now, Japanese popular culture products have received massive attention across the world. Particularly, in South East Asia, Japanese products are consumed in large numbers. This situation has facilitated the spread of Japanese popular culture in the region. For instance, most fashion journals in Taiwan bear a huge influence of the Japanese fashion industry. This pattern is reflected in other areas, including comic books (manga) and children toys. The result of this spread of Japanese popular culture has compounded Taiwan’s positive attitude toward its former master. According to Lee and Han (2013), Japanese popular culture is viewed as a product of globalization. Japanese media bodies have published it. Japanese culture has a universal outlook, which makes it easy to adopt even among non-Asian countries. This situation can be illustrated by the worldwide adoption of Japanese culture in the West, especially the United States.
The Taiwanese view Japan as a progressive and development-oriented country. This view is supported by Japan’s technological advancement and regional influence. Japan is a leading manufacturer of electronics in the world. In addition, Japan has the fastest electric trains in the world. These factors compound the influence that Japan continues to have on Taiwan. Additionally, Japan-made products such as fashion materials and electronic gadgets are in wide circulation in Taiwan. According to Wilkins (2012), modeling in Taiwan is a reflection of Japanese fashion industry. Japan is also a huge consumer of agricultural products from Taiwan. This close association in terms of trade facilities demonstrates a cordial relationship between the two nations. Taiwanese shoppers view Japan-made products as superior quality. As a result, they often travel to shop in Tokyo, further bolstering the already existing culture of admiration for Japan and Japanese products. According to Murray (2016), Taiwanese shoppers spend more money on Japanese creative products, contrary to they would do it on similar products made in Taiwan.
Taiwan fought alongside Japan in World War II. This experience served to bring the two countries closer. In 1945, Japan suffered a major blow when the US bombed two of its (Japan) cities. The Taiwanese were compassionate toward Japan for its loss. Taiwan had been part of Japan for nearly fifty years. Therefore, it was natural for the Taiwanese to feel personal about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attack. According to Reyhner and Eder (2015), the experiences of World War II served to strengthen the bond between Japan and Taiwan. Importantly, many Taiwanese servicemen took part in the war as either soldiers or sailors.
This side-by-side fighting by Japanese and Taiwanese volunteers brought the two countries close. Taiwanese who volunteered to fight in the Japanese army explained that by so doing they earned the respect of being equals with Japanese soldiers (Wilkins, 2012). Thus, the Taiwanese were passionate about being identified with Japan. Another experience that endeared the Taiwanese to Japan was the persecution of Taiwanese ex-servicemen by China. The Kuomintang persecuted and oppressed Taiwanese who had previously fought for Japan, viewing them as traitors. This experience not only increased the hatred that the Taiwanese had for China but also caused them to view Japan more favorably.
While the Japanese did not treat their Taiwanese subjects as cultural equals, they were nevertheless tolerant of their culture. For instance, the Taiwanese were allowed to retain their language even as they were being required to learn Japanese. Additionally, Japanese children were taught Taiwanese in their schools. This move amounted to a form of cultural exchange. The Japanese believed that assimilating the Taiwanese would be much easier if they first understood their culture. In addition, the Taiwanese did not engage in rebellion against Japanese annexation of their territory. In contrast, they viewed the annexation as a break from the oppressive Chinese rulers who had been in control of Taiwan for a long time. The Chinese, unlike the Japanese, forced the Taiwanese to learn Chinese Mandarin. The Taiwanese always viewed this approach as deliberate oppression and disrespect of their Taiwanese culture. To date, Taiwan struggles to maintain an identity that is separate from mainland China. With the recent separation of Hong Kong from China, Taiwanese may revive their resolution to separate from China.
Japan supports the mission by Taiwan to separate itself from mainland China. The relationship between mainland China and Taiwan has been worsening every year. Mainland China is often blamed for this turn of events. For instance, the international community has constantly been accusing China of using bullying tactics to enforce its will in Taiwan. As the resolution to existing independently from China increases, Japan has been known to be in favor of Taiwan. Both Japan and Taiwan have a common perception of China being a threat to the East Asian stability. The common attitude toward China only serves to strengthen the ties between Tokyo and Taipei. The US has also entered the scene. The move is seen to favor Taiwan’s separation from China. Both Japan and the US are strong democracies. As such, they favor Taiwan, which is also a democracy. Conversely, mainland China is seen as a dictatorship, an attribute that Japan and the US often find repulsive.
Taiwan and Japan have for long engaged in diplomatic relations aimed at helping the former nation to gain a foothold in the politics of East Asia. This unofficial relation is carried out between Japanese Diet members, Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Legislative Yuan. Pro-Taiwan parliamentarians in Japan have carried out workshops aimed at supporting Taiwan at the international scene. Prime Minister Abe himself has served in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the past, a party that supports Taiwan’s independence.
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Nevertheless, the choice to support Taiwan’s independence is not easy. Japan has to walk the tight road between upsetting mainland China and supporting Taiwan’s resolution. In the recent years, China has expanded in terms of the economy, as well as military capability. For this reason, Japan is wary of attracting China’s fury by appearing to support Taiwan behind its (China) back. In addition, China is one of Japan’s major trade partners. It supplies most of Japan’s agricultural products. For these two reasons, Japan’s relation with Taiwan has to remain unofficial, lest China perceives Japan as challenging its (China) sovereignty.
The extent of the relationship between Taiwan and Japan often depends on the stance of politicians from both countries. In the 1980s and 1990s, President Lee Teng-hui strengthened the relationship, even praising Japan for the development it had done in Taiwan during the colonial period. Relations during the subsequent administration under President Chen Shui-bian saw the relations warm even further. Chen was reported as having asked Tokyo to enact a Japanese Taiwan Relations Act to cement the relationship between the two countries. However, throughout Ma Ying-Jeou administration, the state of affairs started taking a different direction in favor of Beijing. Ying-Jeou stressed that Japan’s friendly ties with Taiwan would also be boosted by strengthening the relations between Taipei and Beijing (Twining, 2011). Nevertheless, Ying-Jeou’s administration has resulted in major strides being made to boost Taiwan-Japan relationship. For instance, tourism between the two countries improved. Besides, travel visas were abolished.
South Korea’s Policy/Public Opinion toward Japan
Both South Korea and Japan are close allies of the US. However, these two East Asian nations hardly work together in the absence of the US. The Koreans have maintained an attitude of deep resentment toward Japan long after they gained their independence. This attitude is shaped by historical trauma dating back to the era of the Japanese occupation of Korea. Korea’s enmity with the Japanese spans several centuries, having begun during the Japanese pirate raids and the subsequent raid of Japan on South Korea in 1592.
Later, Japan would annex Korea and rule it for thirty-five years between 1910 and 1945. These events compounded to create a deeply ingrained anti-Japanese attitude in Korea. Experts believe that South Koreans are more wary of Japan compared to how they appear in their northern counterpart even with the country’s nuclear power. Additionally, South Koreans view Japan less favorably compared to China, a country that most East Asian nations are afraid of. These scenarios illustrate the depth of the anti-Japanese attitude by Koreans. It is important to note that North Koreans harbor similar feelings of hatred toward Japan as the south. However, researchers such as Wang (2012) have been unable to collect substantive data due to the restrictive leadership of the country.
The Koreans describe the Japanese rule of their country as a period of cultural genocide. The Japanese would suppress the Korean culture and language in an effort to exterminate Korean influence from the society. After colonizing Korea, the Japanese removed the Korean language from the school curriculum to facilitate the forced learning of Japanese. The death penalty was used to deter Koreans from speaking Korean in public places. The Japanese also destroyed various Korean monuments and revised Korean documents that were perceived to portray the Japanese in a bad light. The Japanese are also accused of forcing young Korean women into prostitution. Branded “comfort women,” these women were being forced to entertain Japanese military men. Nevertheless, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to apologize for the injustice, claiming that the women had volunteered their services. This position by Abe is yet another reason why Koreans have remained resentful toward the Japanese.
Collaborators to the Japanese imperialism were regarded as national traitors. They lived mostly in the south of the country. In 2005, the parliament of South Korea directed an exercise to inspect the possibility that some collaborators could have acquired property irregularly as part of favors from the Japanese government. At the time, cries were made to have property allotted irregularly to collaborators retrieved. This move came amid concerns that some Koreans were supportive of Japan. This attitude is different from what was experienced in Taiwan where the nation generally collaborated with the Japanese imperialists. It appears that Koreans suffered greater historical trauma compared to their Taiwanese counterparts. As a result, they are more resentful against Japan. Despite Japan’s huge influence across East Asia, most Koreans have continued to shun Japanese culture. To them, Japanese culture only presents bitter memories of a time when their ancestors were oppressed and even massacred by Japan.
Japan’s foreign policy in Korea was in sharp contrast to their strategy in Taiwan. While Japan was dedicated to building the economy of Taiwan, it did little to build Korea’s financial system. In fact, Korea’s economy suffered a major setback as the Japanese engaged in efforts to siphon Korea’s resources to build the Japanese financial system. This situation led to the stagnation of Korea’s economy. In addition, Japan’s education in Korea was rather oppressive and did not empower the Koreans to build their economy. Because of these factors, Korea’s economy during that era declined greatly. This observation was a sharp contrast to what Japan had been doing in Taiwan where it had built the economy to acquire a near equal status with Japan. Unemployment remained a major challenge in Korea while most Taiwanese had access to gainful employment. In addition, Japan conscripted Koreans to fight in the Second World War. However, in Taiwan, servicemen were asked to volunteer themselves to fight in the war.
Korea had been an independent nation before Japanese annexation while Taiwan had been merely a colony of China. Therefore, the Koreans felt the loss of their independence to Japan more strongly relative to the Taiwanese. For Taiwan, it was only a matter of changing imperialists. This claim reveals why the Taiwanese sustained a much weaker rebellion compared to the Koreans. Furthermore, the Chinese had proved more oppressive against the Taiwanese relative to the Japanese. Therefore, the annexation of Taiwan by Japan came as a relief to the Taiwanese who had experienced a much worse rule under China. The Koreans for their part felt they had lost their dignity yet again to Japan, a country that had historically oppressed them. The Japanese went as far as killing Korea’s Queen and her servants to prove their superiority over Korea. This massacre was a direct insult to Korea’s sovereignty and centralized government. Therefore, the patriotic Koreans would have a difficult time forgiving the Japanese for this gross infringement upon their sovereignty. In comparison, Taiwan had not had a centralized government throughout history. As such, the Taiwanese people did not perceive the Japanese invasion as an infringement of their sovereignty.
The Japanese annexation of Korea was characterized by a protracted war and bloodshed. Koreans were engaged in a bitter struggle to protect their territory from being annexed by the Japanese. Conversely, the Taiwan handover by the Qing to the Japanese was a relatively peaceful affair. Therefore, the attitudes developed from the inset by these countries toward Japan differed considerably. For Koreans, the Japanese were savages who would stop at nothing to take away their sovereignty. On the other hand, the Taiwanese saw the Japanese as diplomats whose primary interest was to improve Taiwan’s economy. Additionally, Korea was able to gain independence after 1945 while Taiwan was simply handed over back to China. For the Koreans, independence meant that they had obtained the space they required to rebuild their nation and demonize Japan in the process. Indeed, Koreans were able to preserve their bitter memories about Japan. However, if Taiwanese had any bitter memories regarding the Japanese, they were erased or replaced with the ruthless KMT rule that took over after Japan left (Thim & Matsuoka, 2014).
Taiwanese Identity and National Pride
The Taiwanese people have many reasons to hate China and love the Japanese. Before Japan took over Taiwan, the Chinese were ruling it. Under the Chinese, the Taiwanese people were oppressed. However, under the Japanese rule, many accomplishments were made. The living standards of the Taiwanese rose considerably. Besides, their economy became industrialized. Additionally, Taiwan’s education system became impressive. Taiwan nearly attained the universal primary education. In addition, the presence of many factories created jobs for Taiwanese, leading to poverty reduction. Hospitals were also established, a move that led to high healthcare standards and the eradication of diseases such as rabies. When Japan lost in the World War II, it was forced to relinquish its colonies, including Taiwan. China took over Taiwan again. The new Chinese rule was a sharp contrast to what the Taiwanese had experienced under the Japanese.
The two years following Japanese relinquishing of the Taiwan colony were marked by a runaway rate of inflation. Naturally, the Taiwanese blamed the predicament on the new Chinese rule. In addition, the Chinese government ordered for buildings in Taiwan to be gutted for the metal to be transported to mainland China to support the ongoing war against communists. Food reserves in Taiwan were also depleted to support the armed forces, a situation that resulted in hunger in Taiwan. The Taiwanese were also being forced to speak Chinese Mandarin, something they opposed because it degraded their language. In short, the Taiwanese had been better off under the Japanese rule. The new wave of resentment against the Chinese led to protests in 1947. In attempting to quell the protests, Chinese forces killed over 10,000 Taiwanese civilians. This massacre multiplied the Taiwanese hatred of the Chinese.
According to a survey conducted by the Interchange Association Japan, 65% of Taiwanese are closer to Japan than China (Thim & Matsuoka, 2014). The same survey revealed that the 43% of Taiwanese cited Japan as their most popular country. Single digits were expressed for China, Singapore, and the US (Thim & Matsuoka, 2014). Japan has always been steadfast in its support for Taiwan. During the selection of seats in the UN in 1971, Japan was among the countries that advocated for dual UN representation from China and Taiwan. China had plans of fronting one candidate who would represent both Taiwan and China in the UN.
The negotiations saw ambassadors from both America and Taiwan frequently meeting in a bid to secure a UN representation for Taiwan. Despite all the efforts, Taiwan did not secure representation at the UN, a case that led to its exit from UN in 1971 (Jacobs, 2008). In addition, during the Japanese rule in 1942, Taiwan only experienced one case of smallpox in the country. It is important to note that the victim did not die of the disease. This incident shows how the Japanese still had the interests of the Taiwanese at heart, despite being the colonial masters.
The ties between Tokyo and Washington further cement the former city’s (Tokyo) relations with Taipei. Being a superpower, the US would go on the offensive if Taiwan became hostile to Japan. Thus, in regards to defense, it can be said that Taiwan needs Japan. It is for this reason that Taiwan’s foreign policy is friendly to Japan as evidenced by the signing of a fisheries agreement with Tokyo during Lie Chan’s reign. The move was seen as further evidence that Taiwan was closer to Japan than China. The agreement laid down the fundamentals of fishing that were to be followed by Taiwanese anglers at the Diaoyutai/Senkaku islands. This agreement was important considering the maritime disputes experienced in the Southeast and East Asia, despite the president’s earlier visit to China, which was interpreted as a new strategy for Taiwan. The visit to China was interpreted by Tokyo as the beginning of severed ties with Taipei.
Taiwan has for decades wished to have a strong economy. Consequently, a strong relationship prevails between Japan and Taiwan mainly as a trading partner. Japan ranks as the second largest trading partner for Taiwan. Therefore, severing the ties would mean a weak economy and a drop in the standard of living. During Lee Teng-hui’s reign between 1988 and 2000, all Taiwanese received education, courtesy of Japan (Twining, 2011). For this reason, most Taiwanese learned the Japanese language and held positive views about Japan. In addition, during Chen Shui-bian’s reign, he fronted pro-Japanese views citing Japan as a friendly country that was important for the security of Taiwan. On the other hand, China is ranked as the principal security threat to Taiwan and hence the reason why Taiwan is closer to Japan compared to China.
The close relationship between Japan and Taiwanese was also demonstrated during the 3/11 earthquake and Tsunami that hit Japan. Thim and Matsuoka (2014) assert that Taiwan made significant contributions most of which were from private entities. This finding forms a reference point concerning the reason why Taiwanese are closer to Japan compared to China. This perception is also held by the younger generation that embraces positive views about Japan’s colonialism. As a result, products from Japan have gained widespread popularity as compared to goods from China (Thim & Matsuoka, 2014).
The tech-savvy younger generation prefers using Line to WeChat and WhatsApp as instant messaging tools. Hello Kitty, which is Japan-born is felt throughout the streets of Taiwan as the Japanese anime continues amassing a wide fan base in Taiwan. This admiration of Japanese products has been passed on to their fashion designs and cultural artifacts. Consequently, most homesteads in Japan have a collection of Japanese cultural artifacts. It is important to note that China too has a strong culture that is admired by many internationally, contrary to the situation in Taiwan. The positivity meted towards Japan is reciprocated towards Taiwan by a positive foreign policy.
The Luzon Strait and the Taiwan Strait surround Taiwan. The waters form an important passage for goods and an energy resource point for Taiwan. The waters also form an important passageway for Japan’s energy imports that originate mainly from Central Asia and the Persian Gulf (Twining, 2011). Thus, it is obvious that the imports would first pass through Taiwan en-route Japan. Taiwan is predominantly a trading country with exports to various regions across the world. Therefore, it is imperative for Taiwan to have a free access to the waters that surround the state. Because the waters are both beneficial to Taiwan and Japan, it would be consequential if Japan exercised hostile control over Taiwan. Such a case would mean that the energy imports would be reduced greatly, thus affecting the economy of Japan. Taiwan and Japan share the Western Pacific, which is a maritime domain. The Western Pacific is important since it is the primary connection to the United States, Hawaii, and Guam (Twining, 2011). Consequently, supplies to the US military positioned in Japan and South Korea use the Western Pacific as the primary passage.
The South China Sea (SCS) also forms an important passage for Taiwan and Japan. Both countries depend on the SCS for trade flows and energy imports. According to Twining (2011), more than 50% of energy supplies in Taiwan and Japan are shipped through the SCS. Therefore, it would be irrational to have Japan demonstrate hostility towards Taiwan because the economy of both countries would be at risk. It would also prompt an amendment of foreign policies in both countries. These common interests by Taiwan and Japan form a basis for the fact that Taiwan is closer and friendlier to the Japanese as compared to the Chinese.
Historical trauma is a cumulative emotional and psychological manifestation of the pain sustained by a group of persons or community over a long period. Historical events such as slavery and colonization are known to have caused historical trauma on the members of communities that were affected, years after the events were over. This ability of historical trauma to affect generations upon generations of a community has motivated many researchers to embark on studies into the subject. Symptoms of historical trauma include suicidal thoughts, anger, and self-hatred. Importantly, members of the affected community often harbor deep resentment against the oppressor. For instance, the Chinese and South Koreans still demonstrate hatred against the Japanese for the evils they perpetrated during the period they had colonized both countries. The Taiwanese for their part have maintained a positive attitude toward the Japanese, despite having been subjected to mistreatment under the Japanese occupation.
The Taiwanese positive regard of the Japanese is attributed to Japan’s policy in the country. Japan initiated numerous economic developments in the country between 1895 and 1945. As a result, Taiwan thrived economically. After Japan had given up the occupation of Taiwan in 1945 following its defeat in the Second World War, China took over. China’s administration of Taiwan proved to be economically unsuitable for Taiwan, leading to a high rate of inflation. In addition, the Chinese used brutal force to quell any rebellion from Taiwanese. The net effect of these events was that they endeared the Taiwanese to Japan while also compounding their resentment for mainland China. This attitude has persisted to date. Meanwhile, Koreans and Chinese continue to loathe the Japanese for the evils perpetrated during their occupation of the two countries. The majority of the South Koreans are more afraid of Japan compared to North Korea.
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