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Under an Imperial Sun

Japanese Colonial Literature of Taiwan and the South

Faye Yuan Kleeman

Publication Year: 2003

Under an Imperial Sun examines literary, linguistic, and cultural representations of Japan's colonial South (nanpô). Building on the most recent scholarship from Japan, Taiwan, and the West, it takes a cross-cultural, multidisciplinary, comparative approach that considers the views of both colonizer and colonized as expressed in travel accounts and popular writing as well as scholarly treatments of the area's cultures and customs. Readers are introduced to the work of Japanese writers Hayashi Fumiko and Nakajima Atsushi, who spent time in the colonial South, and expatriate Nishikawa Mitsuru, who was raised and educated in Taiwan and tried to capture the essence of Taiwanese culture in his fictional and ethnographic writing. The effects of colonial language policy on the multilingual environment of Taiwan are discussed, as well as the role of language as a tool of imperialism and as a vehicle through which Japan's southern subjects expressed their identity--one that bridged Taiwanese and Japanese views of self. Struggling with these often conflicting views, Taiwanese authors, including the Nativists Yang Kui and Lü Heruo and Imperial Subject writers Zhou Jinpo and Chen Huoquan, expressed personal and societal differences in their writing. This volume looks closely at their lives and works and considers the reception of this literature--the Japanese language literature of Japan's colonies--both in Japan and in the former colonies. Finally, it asks: What do these works tell us about the specific example of cultural hybridity that arose in Japanese-occupied Taiwan and what relevance does this have to the global phenomenon of cultural hybridity viewed through a postcolonial lens?

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: Imperialism and Textuality

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pp. 1-7

On November 3, 1942, fifteen hundred of the leading writers, editors, and critics from China, Manchuria, Mongolia, Taiwan,1 Korea,and Japan gathered at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo to attend the first Greater East Asian Writers Conference (Dai Tōa Bungakusha Taikai 大東亜文学者大会 ). ...

Part I Writing the Empire

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1. The Genealogy of the “South”

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pp. 11-16

The South, referring to lands and islands to the south of Japan, was the focus of much interest in the decades following the Meiji Restoration and during the establishment of the Japanese colonial empire. ...

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2. Taming the Barbaric

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pp. 17-41

After the initial burst of excitement in the late nineteenth century, interest in the South Seas seems to have waned. It rebounded dramatically in the 1930s, however, when the comic strip The Adventurous Dankichi (Bōken Dankichi 冒険ダン吉) gained popularity. ...

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3. Writers in the South

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pp. 42-66

The mobilization of writers in support of war was characteristic of the modern Japanese nation-state. It occurred first in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, followed by the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Neither case compared, however, to the widespread deployment of writers to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific during World War II.1 ...

Part II Colonial Desire and Ambivalence

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4. Nishikawa Mitsuru and Bungei Taiwan

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pp. 69-86

In his “Japanese Imperialism: Later Meiji Perspectives,” Marius Jansen characterizes Japan’s drive for colonial control during the late Meiji period as “an entirely reasonable approach” to security considering the geopolitical circumstances of that era when the Western...

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5. Gender, Historiography, and Romantic Colonialism [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 87-116

At this point let us turn from Nishikawa’s work as an editor and patron of the arts to look at Nishikawa the writer. During his years in Taiwan, Nishikawa produced an impressive oeuvre of short stories on a variety of topics, as well as one epic novel and many essays. ...

Part III The Empire Writes Back

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6. Language Policy and Cultural Identity

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pp. 119-159

In the preceeding chapters I have concentrated on the vicissitudes of the native informant as a figure in literary representations by Japanese colonial writers. Now I turn to works written by the native writers themselves and would remind the reader of a point made earlier: not all colonial literature is, or should be, anticolonial. ...

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7. The Nativist Response

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pp. 160-196

In November 1934, Literary Review (Bungaku hyōron 文学評論) published a reader’s letter titled “Let Us Guide Colonial Literature” (“Sho-kuminchi bungaku wo shidōseyo” 植民地文学を指導せよ!). In it the writer, a student in Tokyo, expressed his excitement about an award given by the magazine to Yang Kui’s 楊逵 (1905–1985) short story...

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8. Imperial-Subject Literature and Its Discontents

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pp. 197-227

In the August 1940 issue of Taiwanese Education (Taiwan kyōiku), a monthly journal on education issues put out by the office of the governor-general, an article titled “Policies and Practicality of Citizens’ Total Spiritual Mobilization” (“Kokumin seishin sōdōin jikkō seisaku” 国民精神総動員実行政策)...

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Conclusion: A Voice Reclaimed

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pp. 228-236

The Meiji Restoration of 1868 marked Japan’s reentry into the increasingly interconnected international world from which it had withdrawn in the early seventeenth century. Suddenly Japan realized that it must confront the European colonial powers making inroads across Asia and assert its own prerogatives or risk becoming a colonial...

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Epilogue: Postcolonial Refractions

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pp. 237-248

Although there were some in Japan and Taiwan who foresaw Japan’s defeat, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the war to a sudden, jolting end. Japanese for the first time heard their emperor’s voice, announcing Japan’s defeat and setting Japan on a new path with his resolution “to pave the way for a grand peace for all genera-...


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pp. 249-279


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pp. 281-312

Index [Includes About the Author]

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pp. 313-317

E-ISBN-13: 9780824865375
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824825928

Publication Year: 2003

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Literature and society -- Taiwan.
  • Japanese literature -- Taiwan -- History and criticism.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Taiwan -- Literature and the war.
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