AAS Annual Meeting

China and Inner Asia Session 160

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Session 160: Marginalized Spaces/ Marginalized Voices: The Literature and Literary Activities of Writers in Colonial Taiwan

Organizer: Anne E. Sokolsky, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

Discussant: Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, University of Texas, Austin, USA

Taiwan was a colony of Japan from 1895 to 1945. The Japanese colonial government viewed Taiwan as the gateway to Japan’s southern expansion and consequently policies were implemented to make Taiwan a part of imperial Japan. This meant making Taiwanese Japanese. This panel will examine the role of literature in the process of cultural assimilation from the perspective of the colonizer and the colonized. Anne Sokolsky and Pei-chen Wu’s papers will look at how women writers (specifically Yang Qianhe, Sakaguchi Reiko, and Masugi Shizue), whether Japanese or Taiwanese, had to negotiate their national identities as well as their gendered identities living in colonial Taiwan and defeated post-war Japan. Bob Tierney’s paper will examine the role of folklore stories such as Momotarô and Go Hô and how they were used in school textbooks to inculcate into the minds of young Taiwanese their identities as Japanese subjects. Finally, Yukari Yoshihara’s paper will look at the intellectual activity of writers who lived in or traveled to Japan’s colonial spaces, and how Japan’s 1942 conference on the literature of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere was pivotal in Japan’s empire building strategies through its control over cultural production and hence cultural identity. Through these different approaches to studying the literature and literary activities of Taiwan during its occupation by Japan, we hope to provide varied ways to understand this complicated period in Taiwan’s history.

Negotiating a Colonial Identity from a Female Perspective: The Works of Yang Qianhe and Sakaguchi Reiko
Anne E. Sokolsky, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

The voices of women writers in colonial Taiwan, both Taiwanese and Japanese, were marginalized not just due to race, but also gender. In this paper, I will look at the writings of two women writers, Taiwanese and Japanese, who wrote during Japan’s occupation of Taiwan. I will specifically address how these women from different colonial standpoints wrote about Taiwan and negotiated their views of the colonizer and colonized while trying to survive the unforgiving pen of censorship. On the Taiwanese side, I will look at one of Taiwan’s most famous female writers during this period, Yang Qianhe (1921 - ). She is significant as Taiwan’s first female journalist. Her only work of fiction “Hana saku kisetsu” (The Season When Flowers Bloom, 1941) and her memoir Jinsei no purizumu (The Prism of Life, 1982) will be the focus of this paper. On the Japan side, I will discuss the works of Sakaguchi Reiko (1904 - 1998), who was a resident of Taiwan in the 1930s and 1940s. I will specifically look at “Tomoshibi” (Light, 1943), an interesting indictment of Japan’s war effort. In conclusion, I will show how women on both sides of the colonial equation (colonizer and colonized) grappled with ideas of nationalism and cultural identity in colonial Taiwan’s patriarchal society that relegated them, despite their racial differences, to second class citizens because of their gender.

Between Two "Homelands": The Image of Masugi Shizue's Writings on Colonial Taiwan in the 1940s
Peichen Wu, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Masugi Shizue was born in Fukui Prefecture, Japan in 1900. She followed her father, a Shinto priest, to Taiwan in 1903. She grew up in Taiwan, and then, in 1922, she ran away to Osaka to avoid an arranged marriage to a man she did not love. Afterward, she became a woman’s journalist for the Osaka Daily News, and then started her writing career with Mushanokoji Saneatsu’s support. She is also one of the few Japanese women writers who lived in colonial Taiwan and experienced Taiwanese customs and culture. Masugi’s depictions of Taiwan reflect the relations between the Japanese empire and colonial Taiwan at various stages of this period of colonial history. From Masugi’s early works such as "The Heart of Tiny Fish" and "A Baby Bird" to works she wrote during the war period such as "The Journey to the South" and "The Message," we can see the multiple layers of the image of colonial Taiwan. Taiwan also continued to be the source of her writing after 1945. Her serial works on Taiwan soon after the end of World War II depict how her family returned to Japan with the defeat of Japanese empire and how her family became stateless as a result of Japan’s empire breaking down and the family's legacy as colonizers. This paper will shed light on the changes of her two “homelands”—Taiwan and Japan and how “Domestic” issues became “domestic” matters.

The Use of Colonial Myth in Education and the Shaping of Imperial Subjects
Robert T. Tierney, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Japan

My paper will consider the use of colonial myth in Taiwan school textbooks as an ideological tool of indoctrination that provided a justification of Japanese colonialism and fostered acquiescence among the colonized to the realities of Japanese rule. I will first examine the transformation of historical or folklore figures (or in some cases, hybrid figures that were both) into colonial myths. Next I will consider how these mythical constructions provided legitimacy to imperialism. My primary source will be school textbooks employed in Japanese elementary schools for Taiwanese (hondōjin) throughout the colonial period (1895-1945). In the first place, I will consider Momotarō, Japan’s most popular folk hero, a figure that Nitobe Inazō viewed as a metaphor for Japan’s expansion toward the South Seas. I will also discuss Go Hō (Wu Fang), a semi-legendary Qing official, who is said to have civilized the headhunting “savages” of Taiwan by his self-sacrifice. Go Hō not only provided an ideal image of the colonial civilizing mission but he also offered an attractive role to the Han Chinese majority within that mission, particularly vis a vis the aboriginal minority. I will also look at portrayals of Zheng Chenggong, a 17th century ruler of Taiwan said to be born in Nagasaki of a Japanese mother. Zheng was touted in colonial textbooks as a symbol of unity between the Japanese and the Taiwanese. In addition to examining the ideological function of these myths, I will show how they evolved over time in response to changes in educational policy, assimilation strategies, and military campaigns.

The First Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere Literature Conference" in 1942 (Tokyo) and the Literary People From/Based in the Colonies
Yukari Yoshihara, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Though much has been said about the conference, little is known about the literary people involved in the conference, from/based in the colonies. At the conference, Nishikawa Mitsuru, who was born in Japan, brought up in Taiwan, and a leading figure in the literary world of Taiwan, met a number of literary artists writing in Japanese --- metropolitan Japanese living in the metropolis, writers from the colonies who were forced to write in Japanese, and the 2nd/3rd generation creolized children of colonizers brought up in the colonies. He wrote admiringly of the writers from the Korean Peninsula such as Yu Gwang-su, Lee Kwang-su and Choi Jae-seo for their literary works and their ardent love for the "national language." In Keijo (now Seoul), Tanaka Hidemitsu (expatriate novelist living in Keijo [1935-44]) organized parties for the people returning from Tokyo to their homes (in Korea, China, Manchuria). In 1949, he published a novel based on the literary people gathered in Keijo after the conference, including Choi (a critic educated as an English literature specialist in Imperial Keijo University). Tanaka killed himself (1949) in front of the tomb of Dazai Osamu, his mentor. After Korea’s liberation, Choi exiled himself from the literary world, and wrote academic works on English literature. This presentation will shed light on the conference, paying special attention to the literary people from/based in the colonies.