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Under an Imperial Sun

Under an Imperial Sun: Japanese Colonial Literature of Taiwan and the South

Faye Yuan Kleeman
Copyright Date: 2003
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    Under an Imperial Sun
    Book Description:

    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?

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6537-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Imperialism and Textuality
    (pp. 1-8)

    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). Before the official opening of their meeting, they first bowed deeply in the direction of the imperial palace. Two days before the conference, these delegates from Japan’s colonies and quasicolonies had been taken, in the fog and drizzle, to pay homage to the imperial palace, the Meiji Shrine, and the Yasukuni Shrine. At the conference, the Korean writer...

  5. Part I Writing the Empire

    • 1 The Genealogy of the “South”
      (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. The South was a land of untouched, natural beauty and untamed savages, an area where the Japanese imagination could be given free rein, a region into which the burgeoning population of Japan could expand in an Asian version of colonial empires then maintained by all the major European powers. This chapter explores this concept of the South (expressed in Japanese asnanpō南方,nantō南島,nanyō...

    • 2 Taming the Barbaric
      (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 stripThe Adventurous Dankichi(Bōken Dankichi冒険ダン吉)) gained popularity. This narrative by Shimada Keizō was serialized in the popular youth magazineShōnen kurabu少年倶楽部 from 1933 to 1939. The comical young man Dankichi dozes off one day while fishing and awakes to find himself marooned on a lush tropical jungle island full of coconut trees and savages. With his wisdom and bravery, he soon rules over the various tribes as...

    • 3 Writers in the South
      (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 Beginning in August 1937, immediately following the outbreak of hostilities with China, publishers and news organizations dispatched established writers to the China front as special correspondents. Yoshikawa Eiji 吉川英治(Tokyo Nichinichi shinbun),Kobayashi Hideo 小林秀雄(Bungei shunjū),Hayashi Fusao 林房雄, Ishikawa Tatsuzō 石川達三(Chūō kōron),Satō Haruo 佐藤春夫,...

  6. Part II Colonial Desire and Ambivalence

    • 4 Nishikawa Mitsuru and Bungei Taiwan
      (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 powers had divided up most of Asia if not the world (Peattie and Myers 1984: 61–79). He further compares Japanese imperialism with that of the West and argues that “imperialism never became a very important part of the national consciousness. There were no Japanese Kiplings, there was little popular mystique about Japanese overlordship and relatively little national self-congratulation” (p. 76). We have...

    • 5 Gender, Historiography, and Romantic Colonialism
      (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. Here we will focus on two short stories that highlight different aspects of his literature, his romanticism, and his concern for history. The first story, “Spring on the Rice River,” illuminates gender relations within the colonial context. The second, “Record of the Red Fort,” demonstrates how the modernity of the...

  7. Part III The Empire Writes Back

    • 6 Language Policy and Cultural Identity
      (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. In the Taiwanese literary tradition we see the full gamut of positions ranging from complete rejection of the colonizing culture to willing acceptance and assimilation.

      In Part III, after exploring language as a vehicle for literature in Japan’s oldest colony, I deal with Japanese texts written...

    • 7 The Nativist Response
      (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” (“Shokuminchi 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 “Newspaper Boy” 新聞配達夫 the previous month:¹

      After countless struggles, one year after a Korean, our Taiwanese writer finally enters the Japanese literary establishment (bundan文壇) . My heart was filled with joy when I saw my friend and rival Yang Kui’s name inLiterary Review. First let us celebrate this new...

    • 8 Imperial-Subject Literature and Its Discontents
      (pp. 197-227)

      In the August 1940 issue ofTaiwanese Education (Taiwan kyōiku),a monthly journal on education issues put out by the office of the governorgeneral, 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) put forward four major goals for the spiritual education for the Taiwanese: express reverence for the emperor; show deference to Japanese gods(kami); reject selfishness and contribute to the public; and love and use Kokugo at all times.

      The article was part of the campaign called the Imperial Subject movement(kōminka undō皇民化運動), which took as its goal...

  8. Conclusion: A Voice Reclaimed
    (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 backwater governed by a remote European power. Japan would have to modernize its economy and military, train a corps of experts with knowledge of the outside world, and establish itself as a modern power that dominated its region. It set to this task energetically, sending abroad a group of talented individuals...

  9. Epilogue: Postcolonial Refractions
    (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 generations to come.” This speech brought to a close a half-century of Japanese expansion and ended dreams of a greater Japanese empire in Asia. Throughout East Asia, Japanese troops laid down their weapons and Japanese expatriates packed their bags, uncertain of how...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 249-280)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 281-312)
  12. Index
    (pp. 313-318)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 319-320)