Tsai Chintang Bio
Provided by Yuanliou Publishing
Caption：Xionglin Youth Group of Hsinchu showing gratitude to heaven, earth, and Japanese Emperor before the meal
A campaign to totally transform the Taiwanese into loyal subjects of the Japanese Emperor between 1937 and 1945. From 1930 onward the Taiwan Governor-General's Office, as times changed and the situation became more tense, began to implement a series of social education campaigns. In addition to reforms carried out of the rural economy and of sanitation, there was also an initiative to increase the currency of the Japanese language, spread the cult of the emperor and of the Shinto religion, and make improvements in daily life.
After the second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937 (12th year of Sh?wa Emperor), the Kominka Movement (皇民化運動) was launched, in accordance with the policy of “National Spiritual Mobilization Movement.” Social education campaigns continued as before, and the campaigns for the use of Japanese in daily life continued as well. But now there was a requirement to worship shrines and the Jingu Taima (神宮大麻, Ofuda [神符]) with family and carry on a Japanese lifestyle. From 1940 onwards, the Movement of Changing Surnames was also carried out in order to intensify Japanese “spiritual self-possession.” In addition, schools were prohibited from teaching a Chinese curriculum, the colum ns of Chinese-language on newspapers were abolished, and traditional Taiwanese music and theater were outlawed. Reorganization of the temples and Taiwanese ancestral Hall, and to remove of Han (漢) culture, to achieve a standard of “Kominka” or subjection to the emperor. In 1939, the Governor-General of Taiwan, Kobayashi Seiz? (小林躋造), asserted that the three principles of the government of Taiwan were: Kominka, industrialization, and development of the southern occupied areas.
As the Kominka Movement was carried out, use of the Japanese language was one of the key criteria by which Taiwanese people were judged to have been thoroughly made an imperial subject. In 1936, there were 1,650,000 Taiwanese people competent in Japanese, accounting for 32.3% of the total population. By 1940, as a result of the campaign, the number had jumped to 2,800,000, or 51% of the population.
With regard to religious reform, propagation of the National Shinto Religion (國家神道) was carried out in parallel with the suppression of traditional Taiwanese beliefs. In order to vigorously promote the national Shinto cult, 68 places of Shinto worship were approved, of which 38 were constructed between 1937 and 1943. At all levels, schools and organizations were ordered to go there to worship. Moreover, and administrative order proclaimed that Jingu Taima shrines be set up in every household. In 1936, 340,000 such household shrines were ordained; by 1937 there were more than 500,000, a level representing approximately 60% of all Taiwanese households. The campaign to reorganize ancestral Hall in household and temples, intended to repress traditional Taiwanese religion, was, however, led by local authorities, and it was not carried out in a unified way during the period between 1937 and 1941. The main requirement of the movement was for each family to install a kamidana or household altar in their home, in order to pray together to the Shinto deity Jingu Taima, and set up memorial tablets and images. There were local differences in how this was carried out. Reorganization of the temples, on the other hand, aimed at cutting down and merging local temples in order to suppress traditional religion. “Kominka” also took the outward form of requiring a change in surnames: the family name of a Taiwanese person was changed into a Japanese-style name. This began to be implemented in 1940. The name-changing program was based on the family name, and was subject to approval. The head of a family would have to apply to the authorities, and the name would be selected from the standard list of “Common Family Surnames,” in order to preserve the nationalist ethos and enhance communal spirit. By the end of 1943, the number of people who changed their surnames stood at 126,000, comprising about 2% of the population.
After the Kominhokokai (皇民奉公會, Public Service Association of Imperial Subjects) was founded in 1941, the Kominka Movement merged into it. The campaign’s content went from a stage emphasizing the spiritual self-possession of imperial subjects, to a stage of assertive patriotic loyalty in public life. After the Pacific War broke out, the Taiwanese were mobilized as military laborers, and the number of people belonging to the military increased. From February 1942 onward, a special volunteer recruitment system was introduced, and over 5,500 people were conscripted. In July of the following year, the special volunteer system recruited over 11,000 people into the navy. As the wartime situation grew dire, by January 1945 a comprehensive draft had been put into effect in Taiwan.
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- Tsai, Chintang. (1994). 日本帝國主義下台灣の宗教政策. Tokyo: Douseisha.
- Tsai, Chintang. (2007). Zai lun huang min hua yun dong [再論”皇民化運動”] (=Discourse further upon the Kōminka movement). Tamkang History Review, 18. P.227-245.
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- Tsai, Chintang. (2006). Zhan zheng ti zhi xia de tai wan [戰爭體制下的臺灣]. Taipei: Ri chuang she.
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