Tag Archives: Japan

About the 灣生 Wansei

TAIPEI. 被雨水. 臺北市. Have you noticed something special about this manhole cover? A small detail hinting at Taiwan’s colonial past… it’s adorned by Taipei’s Japanese coat of arms.

灣生 Wansei is the abbreviation for 臺灣出生, a term attributed to Taiwan-born Japanese, during Japanese ruling. At the end of World War II, Taiwan was handed over to the Republic of China, led by Chiang Kai-Sek’s KMT party. All of a sudden, a whole generation of Japanese who had known Taiwan as their only home, were sent back to Japan. A challenging transition for many of them, often estranged by, and victim of discrimination back in the motherland.

Not a lot has been written about this group of people, almost unheard of in Taiwan’s history, and I am fairly new to this subject as well, but here’s a nice article on the Wansei, and this documentary (in Chinese) from Formosa TV. Continue reading About the 灣生 Wansei

Japan’s most important legacy consisted of human attitudes, skills, and institutions favorable to development.

There's something about bookstores in Taiwan, somehow, they know how to do it right, be it the almighty Eslite, or the small second-hand bookstores. I love killing time at the latter ones, for they often carry little gems and an eclectic selection of books.

Once, I stumbled upon a book called U.S. Aid to Taiwan, by Neil H. Jacoby, published in 1967. The title startled me as I wasn't aware of the financial helping hand from Uncle Sam to Taiwan, and thought the Americans merely provided military support to the island. The U.S. aid in question here, is focused on the development of agriculture in Taiwan, not the most exciting topic, but still, I skimmed through the small book written like a diplomatic report. I carefully flipped through the fragile leaves, giving a quick read on each page.

To some, the Japanese influence in Taiwan might be obvious, but not being familiar with the Japanese culture or history, besides mangas and food XD , I always wondered what was this huge Japanese influence people often mentioned. Key infrastructures like railroads were built during the Japanese era, universities were developed, but what else? So when my eyes flew over the words quoted above, it clicked.

The tweet below shows pictures taken after the Japan vs Ivory Coast game, at the current World Soccer Championship. The Japanese supporters are shown picking up after themselves, and reading through the follow-up replies, this was something they've also done at past soccer events.

From my foreigner's state of mind, the admiration for this kind of exemplary civil behavior, 公德心 as it is called in Chinese, draws a parallel with the astonishment of the foreign press and bystanders during the Sunflower protest, when Taiwanese student protesters picked up and recycled their trash as well. But really, this kind of behavior is the normality in Taiwan, and in great part, I now suppose, due to the Japanese.

How about you, do you agree with the quote?

ps: this is my general impression. Of course, Taiwanese and Japanese people are not all little angels, so don't be hating.