The use of film by the Taiwan Education Society and the Colonial government before and after the Asia-Pacific War

(The first draft. Do not quote from the essay without permission from the author)

Daw-Ming LEE (Department of Filmmaking, Taipei National University of the Arts)


Motion pictures arrived in Taiwan at the end of the 19th century[1] as an “attraction” as Tom Gunning would call it. Even though the purpose of showing such novelties in the colony was no doubt profit, the tone of reports or advertisements about such events in local newspaper made them sound like scientific demonstrations of a new technology.

   Before the film distribution system started to function in 1908, film screenings in Taiwan were run by touring film exhibitors, mostly native Japanese from the homeland, and a handful of Taiwanese who had returned from Tokyo after learning projection skills, then bringing back projectors and films. Early film screenings, an activity usually performed together with other entertainments, were no doubt mainly for profit. However, some Japanese rulers had envisioned the use of motion pictures as a tool of educating (or brainwashing) populace of the newly acquired colony.

Itō, Takamatsu and early usage of film by the Colonial government

   In 1900 Takamatsu Toyojirō was invited by the Director of Civil Administration Gotō Shimpei (March 1898-October 1906) to tour Taiwan exhibiting film on behalf of the Colonial government. Gotō was hand-picked by Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi (January 1898-June 1898) to be the chief civilian administrator in Taiwan. It is obvious that Gotō followed his orders and protected Takamatsu’s film screenings in Taiwan.

   According to Matsumoto (1975), Takamatsu was involved in the labor movement in the late 1890s and early 1900s in Japan. In order to circumvent constraints set by the Police Security Act (chian iji hō治安維持法) of 1900, Takamatsu used verbal rakugo entertainment, and later, phonographs and film projectors to carry the movement’s messages to the public (45-46). Matsumoto cited many sources confirming that Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi, who had noticed Takamatsu’s mixed usage of filmed images and speech in 1900, invited Takamatsu to show films in the newly acquired colony of Taiwan. Itō obviously realized the potential of using film as an instrument to enlighten or discipline Japanese from the homeland, and to persuade or indoctrinate Taiwanese to accept Japanese colonial rule. Although Takamatsu was involved in socialist activities, Itō had persuaded Takamatsu not to worry about his leftist background, convincing him that social security and propaganda work in Taiwan required his service.

   Takamatsu was interested in the proposal and decided to take an exploratory trip. Beginning in October 1901, Takamatsu showed films depicting battles in Peking/Beijing (the Boxer Rebellion) by the Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900, as well as the Boer War in 1899, to local officials and the gentry, as well as paid audience in the major cities of Taiwan.[2] Takamatsu’s first trip took him to remote areas, and he became well informed about the real situations and needs of common people in Taiwan.

   Such efforts proved, at least on surface, worked to a certain extent. According to a report in Taiwan Daily News (Taiwan nichinichi shimpō臺灣日日新報) a special screening of scenes from The Battle of Peking was set up for local administrators and gentry on November 17 in a private club in a northern town, Shinchiku (Hsinchu新竹). The audience was said to enthusiastically applaud at the marvelous shots. This was obviously an occasion for propaganda, using film to show native Taiwanese that their former motherland had been defeated once again by many foreign nations, including Imperial Japan.

   It was obviously an intentional act on the part of the Colonial government to break the tie between Taiwan and China, and to connect the Taiwanese with the Japanese. The film screening was probably also an effort to continue the propaganda campaigns, such as the founding of the Society for Uplifting Culture (Yōbunkai揚文會) in Taipei (Taihoku), that aimed to win the understanding and cooperation of the literati for the new regime’s reform programs (Tsurumi: 38).

   In fact, as Tsurumi pointed out, the Kodama Gentarō (February 1898-April 1906) administration recognized the high prestige enjoyed by Chinese learning and maintained a respectful attitude toward it. Governor-General Kodama and Director of Civil Administration Gotō personally honored Taiwanese men of letters (Tsurumi: 20). This was obviously an attempt to get Taiwanese gentry to participate in the cultural change. Film screening, along with banquets held in honor of the elderly and sponsored Chinese poetry parties, was only another method used by the colonizer to win over the native elites.

   After the short exhibition tour, Takamatsu went back to Tokyo to start a career as writer-producer of social satire films (called social puck films) for his own Social Puck Motion Pictures Association. Meanwhile, he was also preparing for annual exhibition trips to Taiwan, which commenced in January 1904, just before the Russo-Japanese War. Takamatsu arrived in Keelung (Kiryū) to start touring the screening of films in Taiwan. He constantly made speeches about labor issues, and criticized Japanese officials’ behavior in Taiwan, while showing the films. It was obviously due to his relationships with both Itō Hirobumi and Gotō Shimpei that Takamatsu was spared punishment by the police.

Films shown by Takamatsu’s projection units in the early 1900s were meant to enlighten native Taiwanese. Annually Takamatsu would assemble a few dozens of narrative and non-fiction shorts from Japan and the West to show audience in Taiwan “great scientific inventions, advanced civilizations, as well as heritage, scenery, humanities, and the state of Japan and the world.” (Takamatsu : 6)

   In 1905, Takamatsu showed a newsreel of the Russo-Japanese War during his tour in ten locations across Taiwan. Ichikawa (1941) said that total donations of 100,000 Yen for national defense were gathered during this touring film exhibition (87). The victory of Japan, a developing Asian country, over Russia, a major European power, was viewed by the Asian population at the time “as a portent for their own prospects of breaking free of colonial rule.” (Kowner, 2007a: 19) The newly colonized Taiwanese audience never imagined that the Japanese army had the ability to defeat the Russians. In fact, Fujii (1997) pointed out that when the Russo-Japanese War had broken out, the government-general of Taiwan immediately issued restrictions on reporting the event, for fear that people in Taiwan might find out that the funds for engaging in war were insufficient, because of financial difficulties of the imperial government. There were rumors all over Taiwan about the Japanese capability of ruling Taiwan. People began to sell their bonds and buy silver coins in a frenzy. In order to solve the financial crisis, the government-general of Taiwan started a monetary reform, thus unifying the monetary system of Taiwan with that of Japan.

It is ironic, therefore, to learn that many Taiwanese were so impressed by scenes depicted in a Japanese-made newsreel of the Russo-Japanese War that they decided to succumb to Japanese rule. Though it might be an exaggeration to say that the attitudes of colonized Taiwanese toward their Japanese colonizer could change so drastically after watching a film, the incident does illuminate that such film exhibition was a well-calculated opinion-changing activity used by the Colonial government.

Yoshino (1927) said that the victory in the Russo-Japanese War had great impact on the sentiments of native Taiwanese. Because of the War, they accepted the greatness and stability of Japan. Their trust in Japan was thus created. (247) Standish (2006) pointed out that cinema was instrumental in publicizing the Russo-Japanese War, making it the first media event in Japan (18). The success in Taiwan of such newsreels confirms the wisdom of Japanese politicians in realizing film’s potential “as a political tool in the management of empire” (Standish: 120). Suffice it to say that, since mid-1900s, the use of film by the Colonial government start to switch from enlightening local populace to promoting government policy.

   The focus of the early years of the 4th governor-general, Kodama Gentarō and his chief civilian administrator Gotō Shimpei was to lay foundations for civil institutions. Educational planning was considered a fundamental part of those measures to establish civil rule. Through the educational system instituted in Meiji Japan, the Colonial government hoped to train the population in basic literacy, economic usefulness, and political obedience (Tsurumi: 10-11). Film was used as a medium outside the educational system to win support for the new regime. The use of film by the colonial government, through businessmen such as Takamatsu, was no doubt propaganda.

   The early film exhibition business of Takamatsu Toyojirō was strongly linked to the Taiwan chapter of the Japanese women’s group Patriotic Women’s Association (PWA), a “white-glove” organization of the government-general of Taiwan.[3] Since the arrival of the 5th governor-general, Sakuma Samata(佐久間左馬太 April 1906-May 1915), in 1906, the policy of the government-general of Taiwan had put the emphasis on wiping out the “raw aborigines.”[4] Sakuma’s first 5-year “Administrating Aborigines Plan” (1906-1910) used a carrot-and-stick policy, which had failed miserably, thus forcing the second 5-year “Administrating Aborigines Plan” (1910-1915) to move towards fierce military suppression. To support the Colonial government’s new policy, the early objective of Taiwan’s PWA was mainly to comfort soldiers and support the war-bereaved families of those involved in fighting indigenous peoples deep in the mountains of Taiwan.

   In 1909, in order to raise funds to help it carry out its cause, while at the same time enlightening local residents, the Taiwan PWA chapter established a motion pictures section, supported by Takamatsu, who agreed to organize screenings for nine consecutive days in September in Taipei, followed by screenings throughout Taiwan during the next seven months.[5] The great success of this plan prompted the Taiwan PWA to decide not only to continue the touring film screenings on a regular basis, but also set up five projection groups within their motion pictures section, to handle film exhibitions across Taiwan. Takamatsu Toyojirō’s company, Taiwan Dōjinsha (臺灣同仁社), was once again commissioned to organize all the screenings. Thus, Takamatsu made a great fortune between 1909 and 1915.

   The Taiwan PWA not only became involved in the business of exhibiting films, but also in making newsreels, which was also commissioned to Takamatsu’s Dōjinsha. This was no doubt a “white-glove” propaganda filmmaking operation on behalf of the government-general office, which did not set up its own film projection section until 1914. According to Ōhashi (1941), in July and October 1910 a camera crew, led by famous cameraman Tsuchiya Tsunekichi(土屋長吉), was recruited from Japan to film the military operations against the Atayal “raw aborigines” who were living deeply in the northern Taiwan mountains.

   The newsreels they made were shown first to Governor-General Sakuma and Civil Administration Director Uchida Kakichi (內田嘉吉), and soon afterwards to soldiers, police, students, and the general public in Taiwan, for propaganda and fund-raising purposes. The newsreels were shown two years later to PWA members and the press at their main office in Tokyo. A special screening of the films was also arranged for the now former director of civil administration, Gotō. Exhibiting these films in Taiwan and Japan had obviously been aimed at enhancing support locally and nationally for suppressing Taiwan indigenous people by military means. This is another example that film was primarily considered by the Colonial government to be an instrument of propaganda. In total, between 1909 and 1912, the Taiwan PWA completed three field shootings, ending up with twenty film titles.[6]

   Another reason for the motion pictures section of Taiwan’s PWA to make their 1912 trip to Tokyo, besides showing the newsreels, was to film the activities of a group of fifty-three Taiwan “Aborigines” who were visiting Japan. Ōhashi (1941) mentioned that this new documentary film was later shown to (and had astonished) their fellow “Aborigines” in Taiwan. Although “mainland sightseeing” (naichi kankō內地觀光 – inviting leaders of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples to visit modernized Japan) had been sponsored by the Taiwan Colonial government since 1897,[7] it became policy in 1910[8], under the Chief of Police Bureau and Head of Aboriginal Affairs, Ōtsu Rinpei (大津麟平). (Fujii: 258-261) The activities of these aboriginal leaders in modernized Japan, such as sightseeing in the city and visiting military facilities, were filmed and shown to indigenous audiences, who never would have such an opportunity. The purpose of “mainland sightseeing” or “aborigine sightseeing” (banjin kankō蕃人觀光), as it could be related to visiting modernized cities in Taiwan by their leaders, was to persuade indigenous people to fear (and not fight against) the mighty military power of great Imperial Japan. Showing the filmed record and testimony of their leaders in Japan to indigenous mountain tribes was considered an effective way of convincing “aborigines” to accept Japanese rule. Such usage of film further testifies the use of film by the Colonial government in ruling the Aborigines was mainly propaganda.

   Utilizing film as a propaganda tool by the Colonial government to convince or persuade local Taiwan residents, and to inform mainland Japanese, actually started much earlier. A film literally titled An Introduction to the Actual Conditions in Taiwan (Taiwan jikkyō shōkai臺灣實況紹介) was commissioned by the government-general of Taiwan to Takamatsu’s company in 1907. The making of this film was closely followed by the press since its inception.[9] It was reported that in only two months the camera crew had photographed more than 20,000 feet of negative of the actual conditions (and a staged scene about subjugating a tribe of “raw aborigines” ) of the colonial administration, industrial development, civilian lives, and all types of scenery in more than 100 locations around Taiwan.

   According to Ichikawa (1941), the film was used by the Colonial government to brief the representatives during a budgetary subcommittee meeting in the Imperial Diet (teikoku gikai帝國議會). If such was the case, it was obviously a film report by the Colonial government to the imperial government, as well as to the people of mainland Japan. The film was also screened in the “Taiwan Hall” at the 1907 Tokyo Industrial Exposition,[10] and toured all over Japan afterwards with a performance group composed of Taiwanese singers and an orchestra, as well as Tsou aborigines performers. The film and live performances were clearly used in the same manner as other custom, cultural and industrial items exhibited in the Exposition (and the previous 1903 Osaka Industrial Exposition) as proof of the modernized, progressive results of Japanese colonization in Taiwan, as well as an introduction to homeland Japanese about the excellent results of the Colonial government’s acculturation and industrialization policies. (Hu: 8-9)

   When Japan annexed Taiwan in 1895, it was feared that “the operation of colonialism would be extremely difficult, and heavy subsidies would impose a weighty burden on the finances of the domestic government (Ching, 2001: 16).” Ka (1995) pointed out that, indeed, the costs of occupying the island and overcoming local resistance had “created seemingly endless expenses for Japan (49),” and in Japan there was “a period of public disapproval of the colonial adventure in Taiwan (52).” However, through various means, the 4th governor-general’s chief civilian administrator, Gotō, was able to reduce Japan’s fiscal burden. By 1905, as Taiwan achieved financial independence, “the central government no longer had to subsidize Taiwan’s civil administration (Ka: 53-54).” Many Japanese politicians considered their success in Taiwan was “proof of her worthiness to be admitted into the community of the world’s great colonial powers (Ching: 17).” Therefore, a film such as An Introduction to the Actual Conditions in Taiwan was important proof for the Colonial government to show to the central government, as well as to the general public, that the money spent in the colonial adventure in Taiwan was worth every penny.

   An Introduction to the Actual Conditions in Taiwan (1907) was not an isolated example in Imperial Japan. A similar film, Around Korea (Kankoku Isshū韓國一周,1908)[11] was produced by the Yokota Company, with assistance from Itō Hirobumi. Bok (2006) described it as a film about Itō and Korea, as well as Korean customs and geography, and was used to show the peaceful conditions there. The film hid the political turmoil at the time in Korea. “It is clear that the propaganda of the government of the resident-general was trying to emphasize the seeming calmness (in Korea) (8-9).”

   As mentioned earlier in this essay, Itō Hirobumi was the person who persuaded Takamatsu Toyojirō to go to Taiwan to show films for the purpose of persuading Taiwanese to accept colonial rule. Itō had been interested in film since 1897, when Arai Saburo (新居三郎) presented Edison’s Vitascope in Tokyo’s Kabukiza (歌舞伎座) Theater (Tanaka: 23). When Itō was appointed resident-general of Korea after the Russo-Japanese War, he used films to help him rule Korea. Bok (2006) thinks that Itō’s use of films in Korea was more aggressive than in Taiwan. Instead of showing existing films, Itō tried to make people in both Korea and Japan aware of the changed situation in the two countries by making films about the Korean situation. Bok pointed out that such usage of film had been consistent under colonial rule, and was the step before what was called “the propaganda and enlightening film policy.” Bok thinks that Itō Hirobumi had two objectives in using films during his governance of Korea: one was to create positive public opinion in colonized Korea; another was for the Korean people to recognize the superiority of Japan through the films, which were to help them assimilate with the Japanese (Bok: 7).

Such conclusions are not totally applicable to the use of films by the Colonial government in Taiwan, however. Although the early film screenings of Takamatsu Toyojirō were to enlighten native Taiwanese (Takamatsu: 6), the use of film by the Colonial government soon turned to promoting government policy to native Taiwanese and a modern image of Taiwan to the Royal family, senior politicians, entrepreneurs, educators and general populace in mainland Japan. The objectives of the film policy of the Government-General Office in Taiwan in the 1910s were, therefore, to create positive images of Taiwan in Japan, and to persuade the Aborigines “the superiority of Japan through the films.”

   Meanwhile, after having immigrated to Taiwan in 1908, Takamatsu expanded his business from touring film exhibitions to building eight theaters (for film screenings and stage performances) across the island, established a film distribution system, founded two performance schools, and ran an entertainment company “that precipitated a boom in local interest in Japanese entertainment” (Baskett: 13). Indeed, through these activities, Takamatsu accomplished his mission of “bringing good entertainment to Taiwan”, as Itō Hirobumi had expected him to do.

However, Takamatsu suffered great losses in show business due to the high fees charged by the artists for performing overseas. By 1915, after running for office to represent his hometown, Fukushjma, in parliament – the Imperial Diet – and being defeated, Takamatsu closed all his businesses in Taiwan in 1917 and returned to Tokyo to start an educational film production company there. Throughout his life, he remained good friends with Gotō, especially after Gotō was appointed Mayor of Tokyo in 1920. It is interesting to see how a young socialist was transformed into a film tycoon with the help of a statesman, maintaining friendship with him. The Colonial government’s reliance on (as well as the fortune and social status enjoyed by) Takamatsu, because of his film and entertainment services to both native Japanese and local Taiwanese, clearly was the bond that built such a friendship.

   The success of An Introduction to the Actual Conditions in Taiwan in 1907 obviously encouraged the government-general of Taiwan to continue commissioning or assisting cameramen from mainland Japan to produce newsreels and propaganda films on various administrative subjects in Taiwan.[12] It is reasonable, therefore, to conclude that before 1920s, film was used mostly as evidential proof of the accomplishment of the government-general or as a propaganda tool by the Colonial government.

   It was not until late 1910s when film was again used by government-general of Taiwan for enlightenment purpose. This may be attributed to the fact that before 1918 education for local residents was not highly valued by the Colonial government in Taiwan. According to Yanaihara (1929), the policy of the Colonial government before 1918 was mainly to keep security and stability, to develop industrial capitalism, to establish the power of bureaucracy and capitalists, all through autocratic police rule. (199, 208)

By 1918 and 1919 when Governor-Generals Akashi Motojirō (明石元二郎June 1918-October 1919) and Den Kenjirō (田健治郎October 1919-September 1923) both actively pursued an assimilation policy, education was emphasized. According to the 1919 Education Rescript, the purpose of education was to cultivate royal subjects and good citizens. To achieve this purpose Japanese language became both the means and content of education in Taiwan. Yanaihara (1929) indicated that teaching Japanese language in education institutions served three purposes: (1) as a communication tool; (2) as a means to develop culture; and (3) as a means of assimilation. (206-207)

Baskett (2008) pointed out that in the early 1910s officials of Taiwan Colonial government (and independent distributors and exhibitors like Takamatsu) believed that film should be used to improve the lives of the population by educating them about modern life in Japan (14). However, such description seems more applicable to the colonial officials of 1919. It should be emphasized that the main purpose of education was not necessarily for the benefit of the colonized Taiwanese, but for the benefit of the Colonial government in subjectifying Taiwanese, who would then be royal to the Japanese Empire. Education was to achieve the disconnection of the tie between Taiwan and China, which had already been achieved by trade and tariff barriers between Taiwan and China after 25 years of colonial rule. (Yanaihara: 161) To Taiwan intellectuals such assimilation policy to rid of their own culture was an injury to their national dignity.

Two important departments of the Colonial government stood out for using films in promoting Colonial government’s policy most often – namely the Ministry of Educational Affairs and the Bureau of Police Affairs. Due to its rather limited use of film in administrating “raw aborigines,” this essay will not deal with such usage by the Bureau of Police Affairs. It will concentrate on the use of film by the Ministry of Educational Affairs of Taiwan Colonial government.

It should be noted that before the end of 1915, The Taiwan PWA was the major institution to tour film screenings of administration-backed films. However, in early 1916 The Taiwan PWA abolished its motion pictures section, to avoid conflict of interest with burgeoning local film exhibiting business. By the end of the year, all the Taiwan PWA films were donated or deposited into another “white-glove” organization of the Colonial government, the Taiwan Education Society (Taiwan kyōiku-ka臺灣教育會), which was established by the Ministry of Educational Affairs. In a way, the Taiwan Education Society took over the role played by the Taiwan PWA in the use of film for public education purposes.

The Taiwan Education Society and its use of film in social education

   The educational use of film by the Taiwan Education Society actually started in 1914. In October of that year, the Ministry of Educational Affairs bought some film projectors from Japan[13] (Ministry of Educational Affairs: 76). On December 5 and 12, the Ministry held a meeting, in conjunction with the Taiwan Education Society, inside a stadium of the Japanese Language School in Taipei, exhibiting films and slides to elementary schoolchildren and their families (Taiwan Education, Issue 153: 56-57). This began the use of film by the education administration in Taiwan. Thereafter, screenings were delegated to the newly founded popular education section in the Taiwan Education Society[14], making it the main administration-based organization to produce and exhibit non-fiction films in Taiwan between the 1910s and 1920s.

   The Taiwan Education Society (TES) was founded in March 1901 by educators and administrators. In 1907 it became an administration-based organization, executing works commissioned by the Ministry of Educational Affairs. Its budget was allocated by the Education Ministry[15], with the governor-general serving as its president and the minister of educational affairs as its director. The original purposes of the organization were to conduct scholastic research and investigations about educational issues, to hold educational seminars and conferences, and to publish a monthly journal on educational affairs.

   After the 1910s, other than publishing the journal, Taiwan Education (Taiwan kyōiku), the major functions of TES were shifted to more practical work, such as holding an annual ceremony to honor deceased Japanese educators in Taiwan, popularizing the Japanese language, conducting seminars with renowned intellectuals for members and non-members, creating interest in world affairs and other important knowledge, as well as combining film screenings with popular education speeches to achieve better popular educational effects (Ministry of Educational Affairs: 75-76). Such a shift may have been caused by the need found by the Ministry of Educational Affairs for the Taiwanese general population to understand the Japanese language through various means of public education.

As early as late 1890s, Director of Civil Administration Gotō Shimpei had stressed time and again the importance of popularizing the use of Japanese language in school education. He was quoted in saying that “popularizing the use of Japanese language and cultivating the unique virtues of the Japanese are the first steps toward assimilation.” (Yoshino: 122-130) In 1896 the Colonial government had already established Japanese-language institutes in different part of the island for training children and young adults Japanese language and other topics. The Japanese Language School (kokugo gakkō國語學校) was also established in the same year to train teachers from Japan, who were to teach in the Japanese-language institutes or to open new ones.[16] (Tsurumi: 16) Though, as was discussed earlier in this essay, Gotō had been keen in using film for propaganda purpose during his years in service in the Colonial government, he, however, failed to use film for popularizing the use of Japanese language. This may be attributed to his ambiguous position in the assimilation policy debate.[17]

By the 1910s, the Colonial government had realized that the percentage of those with the ability to understand the Japanese language among the local population was less than desirable.[18] Some Japanese officials considered those who did not speak Japanese were limited by traditional Chinese ways of living, in their spiritual, professional, social, or family lives. Moreover, very few young Taiwanese were educated in schools or other organizations.[19] Therefore, promoting local populace to learn and use Japanese language continued to be a major objective of the Colonial government since 1910s. Some form of social education for the uneducated young population was considered vital. Among all vehicles used for social education, film was considered one of the most important (Social Education Section, Taiwan Education Society [1934]: 3-4). At the time, film had already been used occasionally as a supplement to the language instruction in the classroom. The Colonial government thought that film was so closely related to the lives of the general public, it could be used to influence them. (Social Education Section, Taiwan Education Society [1935]: 98)

In 1914, a motion pictures unit was established in TES’s popular education section. Educational films were purchased and screenings were held quite often in major cities, as well as in remote locations throughout Taiwan and the offshore islands, beginning in 1915. By 1917, the number of screenings had risen to 52, with a total audience of 96,000.[20] A report to the Assembly of the Taiwan Education Society later that year put the number of viewers at nearly 120,000 for the 91 screenings held in 1916 and 1917 (Taiwan Education, Issue 186: 90).

Such use of film as a tool for social education was very different from that of the Ministry of Education in Japan. According to High (2003: 10), it was not until around 1919 that the Ministry in Japan finally began to advance the idea of using film as part of its social education program aimed at staving off the domestic “Red Menace.” The much advanced usage of film for social education in colonial Taiwan certainly can be attributed to the special circumstances in the colony. As one scholar argued at the time, the island populace, due to their different languages and culture, required a more intuitive media, like film, to change their attitudes and mentality through the eyes and ears. (Nakamura: 48)

Even though most of the titles screened by TES in the 1910s were in essence educational, such as “Civilized Agriculture, “Students in Sports, “Automobiles Racing, “Zoo, and “Observatory and Astronomy, some films were used to promote patriotism to the Emperor and Imperial Japan. This was actually one of the important functions of TES.

In fact, promoting loyalty to the Emperor and patriotism to the state, with the implication that the Emperor was the state, had been incorporated into school and social education in Taiwan since early 1900s. Looking further back in late 19th century Japan, one finds imperial sovereignty – the essence of the Meiji Constitution (Meiji Kenpō) – and the Imperial Rescript on Education promulgated in 1890 two of the pillars of constitutional monarchy since Meiji Restoration.

The Meiji Constitution stipulated that the Japan Empire was ruled by the unbroken imperial line of emperors. It is, therefore, a constitution base on sovereignty endowed by ancestor of the emperors – the Sun Goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami(天照大御神), or Tensho Daijin(天照大神).[21] (In 1930s, with the upsurge of Japanese militarism, the Shinto religion, which Japanese constitution was based upon, would become the ideology behind the military expansions.) It is, therefore, not surprising to find that the Imperial Rescript on Education (Kyōiku ni Kansuru Chokugo 教育ニ関スル勅語) stresses the loyalty of the subjects for the prosperity of the Imperial Throne coeval with heaven and earth. Thus, concepts in the Rescript, such as the Empire was based on a historic bond between benevolent rulers and loyal subjects, and the people of Japan should offer themselves courageously to the State should emergency arise, were considered the essence of Japan’s national polity (kokutai國體) and the cultivation of virtues, especially loyalty and filial piety, the fundamental purpose of education (Fong: 168-169).[22]

In Taiwan, the Imperial Rescript on Education was translated into Chinese and the administrative order (kunrei訓令) that required students to study and memorize the 315-character text was promulgated in February 1897. The Colonial government had hoped to strengthen local students’ loyalty to the Empire through ceremonial reading of the document in front of the conferred royal pictures of the Emperor and Empress. (Tsai: 142) The date the Rescript was signed by Emperor Meiji had been designated “Education Day” by the Colonial government. Ever since then, every year on October 30 TES would hold a ceremony celebrating the Education Day. When the motion picture unit was formed in 1914, TES would also screen educational films in public places throughout the island in the evening of the Education Day. Thus, film was used to promote the idea of “education” to general public in conjunction with a ceremony and other ceremonial activities.

In February 1916, having purchased a lengthy film (more than 3,000 feet) about Emperor Taishō’s Accession Ceremony, the Land Tenure Foundation for Education (Gakuso Zaidan學租財團) leased it to the Taiwan Education Society. TES quickly arranged 30 screenings, showing the film to more than 28,000 elementary school students and their parents within one month, all over Taipei (Taiwan Education, Issue 166: 52-53). The purpose of these screenings was for school children to understand that “the Royal Family is the national polity,” reported an issue of Taiwan Education. It is, therefore, correct for Misawa (2002: 128-132) to point out that it was Japanese nationalism (and modernity) behind the use of motion pictures in popular (social) education by TES. The formal screenings of the 1916 Accession Ceremony film was the most symbolic example. In 1921, in a similar way TES screened throughout Taiwan a film about the European visit of the Crown Prince. Nearly 43,000 viewers attended the eleven screenings.[23]

The salute to the Royal Family had its climax in 1923 when HRH the Crown Prince paid a visit to the island colony. The royal visit in April lasted twelve days. TES had already sent cameramen to Tokyo to film the Crown Prince’s departure from the royal residence in Akasaka. Eventually TES made a 15,000-foot film about the royal visit to Taiwan. TES proudly presented the film to the Crown Prince for his review.[24] Afterward, the film was widely exhibited across Taiwan, “so that the population of the island were able to humbly welcome the Holy goodness of the Crown Prince,” according to Toda Seizō(戶田清三), head of TES’s motion pictures unit, in an article (Taiwan Education, Issue 261: 74).

Four months after the royal visit, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Tokyo. The devastating 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake and the blazing aftermath killed at least 100,000 people. The disaster caused all subsequent celebrations in Taiwan that year to become occasions for donations to aid “fellow compatriots in the Homeland.”[25] This explains why there were almost no reports in Taiwan Education, the organ of TES, on the film screenings about the Crown Prince’s Taiwan visit. Yet a great number of copies of the film had actually been made and sent to each local government (shūchō州廳). Most of the island’s population went to a screening of the film almost simultaneously in October.[26]

In order for each shūchō to do its work in popularizing social education in Taiwan, TES had already purchased projectors and donated one to each in 1922, along with a subsidy to purchase or rent films to show to the public the following year (Taiwan Education, Issue 258: 80-81). This policy made the screening of educational films very popular during the 1920s and 1930s. The spread of screening education films on the island in early 1920s coincided with the film education movement in Japan, which started in 1917-1918 when film entrepreneurs, cameramen and some operational officers in the government spontaneously produced documentaries and newsreels for educational, enlightenment and informational purposes. (Tanaka: 42) the film recommendation movement and the motion pictures exposition sponsored by the Ministry of Education in 1921 finally promoted the educational usage of film into a movement. However, such film education movement would not be promoted in Taiwan until 1930 when TES earned a status of independent incorporated association. We will return to this topic soon.

   Meanwhile, the Taiwan Education Society was only able to screen films before August 1917. This means that TES either had to purchase educational films from homeland Japan and the Western nations, or its film productions had to be commissioned to outside filmmakers. Takamatsu Toyojirō’s company Dōjinsha, for example, was hired by TES to film the 1916 Taiwan Industrial Exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of Japanese colonial rule.

The Exhibition intended to reveal not only the achievements of Colonial rule, but also to compare industrial and economic conditions in Korea, Manchuria, Sakhalin, Southern China, Southeast Asia, and India, as well as in many prefectures in homeland Japan. Lu (2005) says that the Exhibition had multiple objectives: (1) show the world the successful twenty-year Colonial rule, (2) attract Japanese capital and population to Taiwan, (3) entice Japanese capitalists to use Taiwan as a base for southward development, (4) soften or dissolve any potential consciousness by Taiwanese of Chinese nationality, and, (5) demonstrate that the Japanese Colonial government had enlightened and civilized the indigenous people. (215-216)

The 1916 Taiwan Industrial Exhibition was the first major exhibition held in Taiwan by the Japanese Colonial government since its rule over Taiwan began in 1895. It was also the first time the government-general of Taiwan opened-wide its door to homeland Japanese, as well as to people from other countries. The event was carefully planned and executed. Dignitaries, including members of the Royal Family, former governor-generals, and high officials of the current government-general of Taiwan, were invited to attend.

   The film produced for the 1916 Industrial Exhibition by Takamatsu’s Dōjinsha, however, shifted its focus from the Exhibition itself to the visit by HRH Prince Kan'in Kotohito(閑院宮載仁親王), younger brother of Emperor Meiji, and his wife. On the surface, such a major shift in the focus of the documentary film might sound abrupt and strange. Yet it once again confirms the preference for patriotism and nationalism (through paying reverence to the Emperor and the Royal Family) over anything else in TES’s social education program. More than 10,000 feet of negative was shot. The content of the film, with the exception of exteriors, interiors, and night views of the Industrial Exhibition halls, was primarily of Prince Kan'in Kotohito and his wife, including their arrival at the Taipei Train Station, and their visits to the opening ceremony, Taiwan Jinja, the Red Cross, touring Taichu Park, receiving Aborigines, etc. 

   The great success of the educational and other non-fiction film screenings in early- to mid-1910s had obviously prompted TES to produce films with their own crews. Such a major shift might have also been due to Takamatsu’s departure from Taiwan in 1917. In August of that year, cameraman Hagiya Kenzō(萩屋堅藏) was recruited from Tokyo to be a staff technician in TES.[27] He was a veteran cameraman working for the M. Kashī Company,[28] whose previous shooting of the 1916 Taiwan Industrial Exhibition film, produced by Takamatsu’s Dōjinsha, had tremendously impressed TES (Taiwan nichi-nichi shimpō, August 16, 1917: 7).

By mid-September of 1917, Hagiya was already busy filming events in the Taipei area, such as military training, children practicing at the Kote Shō (古亭庄)swimming site next to the Shinmise (新店Hsintien) River, and scenes in the Taipei zoo.[29] At the end of 1917, Mr. Hagiya had already filmed important events including the Royal visit in October by HRH Prince Kitashirakawa-no-miya Naruhisa (北白川宮成久王) and his wife, and the Hygiene Exhibition in Taichu in November.[30]

   We know the ideology behind the shooting of the Royal visit. On the other hand, filming the Hygiene Exhibition shows the perceived need to promote popular awareness of hygiene. Epidemic diseases had been serious during the early years of colonial rule. In fact, “Taiwan had long experienced plague, malaria, cholera, dysentery, and numerous other contagious diseases (Ts’ai: 110).” Many scholars had pointed out that more Japanese soldiers died from contagious diseases than on the battlefield when Japan took over Taiwan in 1895 (Ts’ai: 110; Lo: 40).[31]

   Many Taiwanese, however, either believed in supernatural means to cure disease, or just ignored the Colonial government’s sanitation campaigns, such as rat extermination. Therefore, the Japanese authorities started to “educate people” by issuing administrative orders, public lecturing, and holding exhibitions (Ts’ai: 110). The motion pictures unit of TES worked closely with the authorities behind the Hygiene Exhibition, not only in making a documentary of the event, but also being actively involved in the social education part by designing and reenacting various ways people could become infected with malaria (Taiwan Education, Issue 185: 66). After that, the motion pictures unit led by Hagiya was instrumental in producing films about epidemic diseases, as well as promoting social awareness of how to prevent them. For example, in July 1919, when cholera started to spread across Taiwan, TES sent its cameraman to gather material about the treatment of cholera patients at the Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei. At the request of Taihoku Chō (臺北州), TES screened the film in Taipei and vicinity, including Kiryū (Keelung) and other cholera-infected areas, in late August and September of 1919. Each screening was accompanied by speeches of government-employed or practicing local physicians. The great success of such endeavors prompted TES to continue holding screenings across Taiwan to propagate the concept of hygiene with the general public. (Taiwan Education, Issue 209: 50) In 1919, the unit held 67 screenings about such topics in different parts of Taiwan, with more than 125,000 elementary school children attending (Taiwan Educational Affairs Handbook – Taishō Year ten: 35). The especially high attendance that year was unusual, because in years without such serious spread of epidemics, the motion pictures unit held fewer screenings with smaller audiences. For example, in 1920 there were only 19 screenings with about 70,000 people attending.

   By 1918, Japan experienced the so-called “Taishō Democracy,” after Hara Kei(原敬September 1918-November 1921) became the first “commoner” prime minister. Military official was replaced by civil servant to be appointed as governor-generals of Taiwan. Consequently, Taiwan had its first civil servant as governor-general in 1919. In the context of the “extension of Japan proper policy” (naichi enchō shugi內地延長主義), i.e. the policy to rule Taiwan in the same fashion as homeland Japan, which was initiated by Prime Minister Hara, governor-general of Taiwan Den Kenjirō began a large scale reform to integrate the colony into Japan proper.

Before accepting the governor-generalship, Den Kenjirō explained to Hara that an important part of his assimilation policy was educating the Taiwanese to be pure Japanese. Upon taking his duties in Taiwan Den proclaimed that Japanization of Taiwan and assimilation of the Taiwanese were the goal of his administration. (Tsurumi: 93) Taiwanese people were to achieve political equality with the Japanese, so long as the colony could reach a level similar to that of Japan (Ts’ai: 149-150). Consequently, the Education Rescript of 1922, also known as integration rescript, was promulgated by Governor-General Den to abolish the policy separating Japanese and Taiwanese students based on their race. The curriculum of the common school, which local Taiwanese attended, was brought closer to that of the Japanese students’ primary school. The most important was that Japanese history was added. The declared objectives of teaching Japanese history to Taiwanese students were to provide a general introduction to the “national polity” (kokutai國體) and to cultivate the “national spirit” (kokumin seishin國民精神). (Tsurumi: 94-100) As we shall see in the later part of this essay, such an endeavor would prepare the Taiwanese to devote him/herself to the emperor and imperial Japan in war time.

In 1922, after the promulgation of the new Education Rescript, the government-general started rural reform to improve the quality of local manpower. Film screenings were considered a vital part of the program. In order to popularize social education, TES started to hold training sessions for the staff of local governments who were responsible for such affairs. Twenty-six clerks[32] attended the 10-day session in May 1922, held in the second floor canteen of the governor-general’s office. Students studied not only skills for handling film and operating projectors, but also the history and development of movies, principles of motion picture cameras and projectors, as well as aesthetics, sociology, and the psychology of film (Taiwan Education, Issue 260: 136). As part of the government-general’s efforts, many of the local governments started their own film projection training after 1923, with assistance from TES’s motion pictures unit. By the early 1930s, similar training sessions would be held for employees of other governmental institutions, such as schools and the tax bureau.

Interesting enough, it was around the same time that schools, organizations and local governments in Japan proper also began to utilize film for education or propaganda purpose. Film was used in both school and social educations. Urban and rural areas alike, film screening was an absolutely popular activity at the time. In order to help enlightening the populace, the Ministry of Education held a seminar on motion picture projection techniques in Ueno, Tokyo in August 1924, almost two years after TES’s similar training sessions held in the governor-general’s office building .

Though most of the public screenings (and some special screenings for the governor-general and his civil servants) were still held by the motion pictures unit of TES, starting from October 1922, some screenings were supported by local governments.[33] By 1924, most of the film screenings for public education had already been taken over by the local governments’ projection units,[34] and by 1930, screenings by local film associations were very common. For example, Taichu Shū Film Association held 538 screenings, with more than 220,000 in attendance (Taiwan Education, Issue 351: 137).

To facilitate public education through film in rural areas, beginning in 1922, the Internal Affairs Bureau (naimukyoku內務局) used its budget for social affairs to purchase educational films for TES to screen throughout the island, and gave selected films to local governments to do their own screenings. (Social Education Section, Taiwan Education Society [1934]: 71) Head of the motion pictures unit Toda (1924: 66) pointed out that TES made sure each local government received the best possible educational films for regular screenings.

Each year TES would produce about 25 films using its own cameramen, and purchase another 20 or so Japanese and foreign educational films. By March 1924, TES had already made 84 films with its own cameramen. Though most of the films were about topics related to Taiwan and homeland Japan, fourteen of them (about 17%) were records of political events;[35] eleven films (13%) depicted local agriculture and fishery products; twenty-two (26%) were about cities, off-shore islands, scenery, and transportation; five promoted good hygiene and prevention of epidemic diseases; and five showed sports events, mostly athletic meets. Films representing cultural affairs were very few.[36] Only three films were directly related to education.[37] It, therefore, clearly indicated that the use of film by Taiwan Education Society is, similar to its predecessor Patriotic Women’s Association, for political and propagandistic purposes, rather than educational.

The futile efforts in promoting Taiwan’s modern imagess by TES

A major shift happened in the Taiwan Education Society in January 1931. It became an independent incorporated association that owned land, a building, and a women’s high school. TES also expanded its internal structure to include six departments: General Affairs, Accounting, School Education, Social Education, Publications, and Photography. The photography department was enthusiastically involved, since 1931, in the production of educational films to be used as supplementary material with textbooks throughout Japan.

The mission of TES’s photography department would no longer be restricted to only showing and making films for social education. Ten new titles (8,450 feet) about homeland Japan’s scenery and venerable locations were planned in 1931[38] (Taiwan Education, Issue 357: 150-152). In 1936, eighteen more titles to be used as supplementary films to textbooks were produced by TES, among them fifteen about Japanese scenic spots and ancient sites. Film was used both in school education and social education after 1930. Though most of the TES films made in Taiwan were aimed at “educating” the local population, one notices in the film list that ten films featuring Japan’s beautiful settings and historic locations, as well as the Royal tour to Kyoto and Osaka were shot by TES cameraman. These were made by the second crew dispatched in 1921 for the Introducing Current Situations of Taiwan (臺灣事情紹介) project. TES would eventually make it a policy to produce its own films about Japan’s scenery and ancient sites in conjunction with the textbooks. Schools in Taiwan would be getting these films from TES, instead of buying them from film companies in Japan.

   TES not only produced and showed films about mainland Japan to Taiwanese adults and school children, it also produced and showed films about Taiwan to Japanese in the homeland. In 1920 the Taiwan Education Society started promoting favorable images of Taiwan as one of its functions. Misawa (2002) noted that TES played a dual role in Taiwan – on one hand, as an agent importing the content of Japan Nationalism from mainland Japan; on the other hand, it had to create content representing a positive picture of Taiwan and export it to mainland Japan. (141-142)

In March and April of 1920 TES dispatched a four-man group to Kyushu and Tokyo with the purpose of presenting the actual situations of Taiwan. A report in Taiwan Education on the “Introducing Current Situations of Taiwan” project reveals the frustration felt by the Colonial government and the Japanese residents in Taiwan about Taiwan’s tarnished image in the eyes of the mainland Japanese:

Even today, twenty-five years after colonization, in homeland Japan Taiwan is still thought to be an inferno – with mountains filled with jungle diseases, and plagued with malaria, constantly in danger of your head being hunted by the savages. One of the reasons for such misconception to continue is due to a lack of factual introduction of today's Taiwanese culture to mainland residents. Consequently, when one tries to invite people from the mainland to work in Taiwan, either in the field of education or any other profession, tangentially they feel the environment in Taiwan is not very convenient. (Taiwan Education, Issue 215:51)

   “In order to eliminate such misunderstanding, to enhance the willingness of the inland people to come to Taiwan to contribute to the development in education and other fields in Taiwan, as well as to understand the relationship between Taiwan (as a southern territory of the Empire) and the power of the Japan Empire,” TES felt a need to dispatch a troupe to homeland Japan to reveal the actual situations of Taiwan. (ibid.) Each propaganda session consisted of one or two speeches in the daytime and a film screening in the evening. The film TES showed included shots of famous Phalaenopsis orchids, a spectacular logging scene on Alishan Mountain, beautiful scenes at Sun Moon Lake, as well as shots of grand buildings in several major cities, schools and parks, Aboriginal children riding on small crafts to attend school (Taiwan Education, Issue 56: 48).

In Kyushu, audiences for evening film screenings were obviously much greater than for the morning and afternoon speeches which were aimed at government officials, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, teachers, and students. An estimated 41,000 people attended the screenings in Kyushu.[39] Screenings in Tokyo were more political, in the sense that some screening sessions were arranged exclusively for the Royal Family, entrepreneurs and intelligentsia. Some former and current high officials of the government of Taiwan, including Gotō Shimpei, came to Tokyo specifically to address audiences before the film screenings. Two sessions in Hibiya Park, attended by an estimated 18,000 people, exemplify the success of the project. The Tokyo screenings were highlighted by a special screening for HRH the Crown Prince and other princes.[40] According to Misawa (2002), the Taiwan Education Society associated its activities with the Royal Family in order to enhance the image of Taiwan, and to highlight the importance of its project, Introducing Current Situations of Taiwan. (142)

   The success of the first troupe prompted TES to dispatch a second troupe to areas west of Nagoya (including two cities and eleven prefectures) in 1921.[41] To prepare for this project, Toda Seizō, head of the motion pictures unit, and cameraman Hagiya Kenzō spent much time to shoot beautiful spots and exotic scenery throughout Taiwan, months before their Kansai trip.[42] Hisazumi Eiichi, head of the 1921 troupe and a former education official for the government-general of Taiwan, estimated that the 29 screenings in the 55-stop schedule had attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers. During their tour, the troupe had not only shown films introducing actual events in Taiwan, they also brought a camera and shot more than 3,000 feet of negative of stunning scenes and ancient sites, as well as the Royal tour to Kyoto and Osaka by the Crown Prince. Nonetheless, Hisazumi (1921) pointed out that some Japanese viewers had doubts about the purpose of the screenings – whether the Colonial government just wanted to solicit teachers and immigrants to live and work in Taiwan. The source of funding for this TES project was also questioned. Finally, Hisazumi suggested that although showing the actual situation in Taiwan to mainland Japanese was a good idea, it was also very important for people on Taiwan to understand the real situations in Taiwan (33-36).

  Soon after, TES stopped sending such troupes to Japan, to clarify things in Taiwan. Instead, in 1923, it solicited assistance from a government-affiliated, but non-governmental organization (NGO), Eastern Association (Toyo Kyokai東洋協會). After fulfilling certain criteria, institutes in Japan, Korea and Manchuria were allowed to borrow films in the Introducing Current Situations of Taiwan series from Eastern Association (Taiwan Education, Issue 270: 90). The TES connection with Eastern Association is a particularly interesting development. Originally established in 1898 by politicians and the financial world as Taiwan Association (Taiwan Kyokai), to help the Japanese government manage its first colony, Eastern Association changed its name in 1907, after Japan acquired Korea, in order to include Korea and Manchuria as part of its territories of concern. Therefore, showing the Introducing Current Situations of Taiwan films to similarly colonized Korea and Manchuria seemed to carry certain overtones. It is not known how successful the efforts by Eastern Association were. However, individual attempts by TES to introduce Taiwan via films continued after 1924.[43] Subsequently, since 1925 such films were also shown to visiting Japanese educational groups to introduce education in Taiwan. In April and May 1929, the government-general of Taiwan held exhibitions in Tokyo and Osaka to promote Taiwan. Traveling Taiwan (臺灣の旅), a film produced by TES, was screened (Taiwan Education, Issue 322: 133). Even though TES boasted about the great success of Introducing Current Situations of Taiwan, its actual effectiveness is dubious.

After the Manchurian Incident of 1931,Taiwan Education Society had to produce an educational film, Taiwan (臺灣), to be used in homeland Japan’s elementary schools in conjunction with the textbook, in order to clarify the misconception in Japan about Taiwan that Taihoku (Taipei) was a dangerous place, and that malaria was still widespread. Nakamura (1932) lamented that propaganda efforts in the past by institutions such as Shokusankyoku (殖產局)had put too much stress on Taiwanese culture, Aboriginal dances, and exotic produces in Taiwan, such as bananas, coconuts, beetle nut, etc., and rarely mentioned the industrial products, thus creating a misconception. Taiwan was a three-reel (2,500 feet) educational film that comprehensively presented the geography, agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, forest products, minerals, as well as city and rural scenery, historic places, and modern ports. The misconception about Taiwan was so deeply rooted that any effort on the part of Colonial government to correct it seemed to be futile. According to actor Sawamura Kunitaro, as late as 1942, cast and crews of the “national policy” film Clan of the Sea (Umi no gozoku海の豪族) still felt dreadful of going to Taiwan for location shooting because of their stereotypes about Taiwan – the aborigines, poisonous snakes, malaria, etc. ( Baskett: 15-16)

The Rise of Militarism and the Advent of National Policy Films

Manchurian Incident, and the following Shanghai Incident in January 1932, did not change the direction of TES’s photography department in making the supplementary films and engaging in film training programs. However, two years later, following the League of Nations’ condemnation of the invasion of Manchuria by Japan, the direction of filmmaking and attitudes towards film in Taiwan was strongly affected. Isolation from the world made the Japanese government and military more eager to use film for propaganda purposes, such as “the proclamation of a national state of emergency and the need for absolute national unity,” to quote from an article in the Home Ministry’s Censorship Annual in 1934.[44] In other words, films made by TES after 1934 showed a tendency towards promotion of patriotism, militarism and Japanization in Taiwan. For example, Taiwan under Current Situation (jikyoku ka no Taiwan時局下の臺灣), produced by TES in 1937-38, was a film depicting the situations in Taiwan after China Incident broke out. The film, showing scenes of activities of Japanese soldiers, Taiwanese army porters, and those stayed in the home front expressing their patriotism and royalty to the state, was a pure propaganda film, or “national policy film” as was called at the time.

Of course, the use of film to promote militarism in Taiwan had started long before 1937. In fact, the promotion of concepts such as the unquestioning loyalty to the Emperor and the inviolability of the Emperor in the Imperial Rescript on Education since 1897 had laid the foundation for the expansion of militarism in Taiwan.

Japan’s militarism actually began in early years of the Meiji Restoration. The Kyōhei Fukoku (strong military makes rich country強兵富國) policy in 1880s reflected Japan’s anxiety to build a strong military to defend Japan against Western powers. (Banno, 1971; Togawa, 1983) Japan’s need in securing resources for developing strong army and navy led it into conflict with China and Russia. The victories over China and Russia in Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars had earned Japan not only colonies, considerable indemnity and rich resources, but also the status of an imperialist power, albeit a regional power in East Asia. (Kowner, 2007b: 30) Consequently, the resources acquired from the colonies and semi-colonies were used in building heavy industry, which further enhanced Japan’s ability of building warships. While developing Japan’s heavy industry, plutocrats such as Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Sumitomo were protected by the government and the military, and eventually became konzern and cartel trust, which in turn financially supported the politicians, the bureaucrat, and the military.

During the “Taishō democracy” period, Japanese enjoyed a short time of democratic rule and a rather peaceful and prosperous life. However, the rather unstable party politics, the peaceful diplomatic approach taken by the civilian administrations in dealing with Western nations and the upsurge of social activism paved the way for the eventual political interference by the ultranationalist military. Japanese economy was deeply affected by the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake. The financial constraint policy worsened the unemployment situation and exacerbated social conflict. The 1929 worldwide great depression and rise of nationalism in China after the Manchurian Incident had prompted the public opinion in Japan to turn “right.” The Japanese government started to purge ideology and opinions of not only Marxism, but also liberalism and democratism. Japanism replaced western thoughts to become the mainstream voice of public opinion. Such reactionary turn towards militarism eventually led the Japanese society to a jingoistic patriotism and a belief advocated by the military that Japan needed fascist dictatorship to unify politics, economy, education, science and technology, as well as people’s daily lives to prepare for the approaching war.

Militarism faced by the populace in Taiwan, however, was unique before 1937. As a Japanese colony, Taiwan had been under the military rule in its first 24 years. Before 1921, the governor-general of Taiwan was empowered by the laws enacted by the Diet[45] to issue ordinances that had the same effect within his governing jurisdiction as Japanese statues made by the Diet. In other words, the governor-general possessed executive authority, military authority, and authority over judicial administration. (Wang: 38-41) It was through this special power of the governor-general, who was a military official, that militarism was practiced in Taiwan. It is, therefore, no surprise that Taiwan Education Society, as an organ of the Colonial government, took priority in showing the accession and funeral ceremony of the emperor, as well as filming the visit of the emperor’s family members, as they “symbolized the importance of the imperial establishment and its place in the hearts of the Japanese nation,” to quote Kowner (2007b: 29).

In 1929, a federation to incorporate all social education organization on the prefecture level was finally formed in Japan proper after an imperial rescript was promulgated in December 1928 by Emperor Shōwa. Facing a chaotic politics and crippled government, a failing economy, and conflicts on mainland China, Emperor Shōwa called once again for the arousal of the national spirit. Throughout the entire Shōwa period in colonial Taiwan cultivating national spirit in Taiwan residents became the main goal of both school and social education. It was around the same time that the Colonial government launched its second wave of language campaign. Various local semi-governmental organizations established between 1922 and 1925 to promote social education and the Japanese language in Taiwan were reorganized between 1929 and 1933. An Allied Association for Social Education (kyōka rengō kai教化連合會) was formed in Taipei shū under the auspices of the Taipei shū government in 1932. A similar organization was formed in Taichū in central Taiwan a year after, and in Takao in southern Taiwan two years later. (Katō: 1021-1036)

When Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in March 1933, the Japanese government reiterated the importance for the whole nation to straighten its discipline, to abstain from exinanition and idleness, and to rectify the temptation from radical thoughts. Since most of the population in colonial Taiwan was of Chinese descent, the need to transform/assimilate Taiwanese into Japanese royal to the emperor seemed an urgent mission to the Colonial government in view of an inevitable war with China. A movement to arouse the national spirit was inevitable. On December 9, 1933, Governor-General Nakagawa Kenzō issued a proclamation declaring that the national spirit in Taiwan needed to be aroused much more than in homeland Japan since the island of Taiwan was in a key position as the southern gate of the Empire. He re-invigorated the campaign for “national language,” calling for Japanese language to be used frequently by local populations even at home so that the objective of assimilation (dōka同化) could be achieved. By this time, the arousing of national spirit and the clearly expressed idea of national polity had been written into the main objectives of each social education organization. With the approaching war with China, it was obvious that through these means the Colonial government hoped to gradually assimilate the Taiwanese and break their ties with mainland China.

It was against this background that a consultation meeting on social education in Taiwan was co-organized by Government-General of Taiwan and Foundation for Federation of Central Social Education Organizations on March 1, 1934. (Katō: 1036-1041) Social education in Taiwan was finally incorporated into the mainstream militarism mechanism in Japan. The Guideline for Social Education in Taiwan, drafted as a conclusion of the meeting, stipulated that the complete embracing of imperial spirit (kōkoku seishin皇國精神) by the people is a target to be achieved. It was required that the Emperor’s instructions be obeyed, the essence of imperial national polity be positively recognized, the imperial history understood, Shinto shrines respected, national language constantly used, royalty to the emperor and the nation developed, national flag fully respected, and the imperial calendar (kōki皇紀) followed.  

By early 1930s, assimilation in Taiwan was heavily supported by Japan’s foreign and domestic policies. As civil and military politicians’ attentions turned toward south China and Southeast Asia, after Manchuria and north China felled into the hands of Japan, Taiwan was now considered a launching pad for southward advancement. The status of Taiwan was elevated in the eyes of many politicians. Assimilation or Japanization of the native population had been a central concern of the government-general from at least the beginning of the 1930s. The Taiwanese were to become imperial subjects “who dress, eat, and live as Japanese do, speak the Japanese tongue as their own and guard out national spirit in the same way as do Japanese born in Japan” in the words of Governor-General Kawamura Takeji(川村竹治 June 1928-July 1929).

It should be noted, however, that the tension between the ideals of assimilation and the compulsion to maintain Japanese primacy remained strong throughout the last two decades of Japanese rule. According to Tsurumi (1977), the conflicts were still evident even after the pace of assimilation quickened, and under military governors-general again the policy became one of militant Japanization or imperialization (kōminka).

The Colonial government considered it inevitable that the Taiwan populace of Chinese descent would be defensive against any change regarding their social conditions. It was, therefore, necessary for the Taiwanese to realize the inferior conditions of the island in comparison with mainland Japan. The Colonial government considered increasing the frequent use of the Japanese language by local populace an expeditious way to transform Taiwanese into the imperial subject. (Government-General of Taiwan, 1940:2-3) Even though the actual kōminka (imperial subjectificaion皇民化) movement would not officially start until two and a half years later, militarism practices had already seeped into the daily life of Taiwanese people.

Film was considered a very important tool to achieve the objectives of social education (kyōka教化). (Social Education Section, Taiwan Education Society ,1934: 71) To Colonial government, film provided a way to cultivate the imperial national spirit and to arouse virtuous morale unaware of by the audience. (Government-General of Taiwan, 1935: 98)[46] For example, a film featuring the legend of the “Three Human Bomb Patriots” (nikudan san yūshi肉弾三勇士)[47] during the “Shanghai Incident” was shown by Danan Youth Corps on April 23 in Danan Public School (大湳公學校) in Taoyuan.

Youth Corps (seinen dan青年團) was established in Taiwan in 1920 following the examples in rural villages in Japan proper. In 1930 Governor-General Ishizuka Eizō issued a directive to formally incorporate Youth Corps into social education mechanism. One of the main objectives of Youth Corps was to cultivate national spirit of its members. Film exhibition was both social education activity and entertainment, as well as an occasion for collecting donations to purchase weaponry in this special instance.

“By means of the live scenes of the war and the great Japanese spirit (shown in the film about Three Human Bomb Patriots), the national spirit was advocated thoroughly to the general villagers (especially those aged average local women),” thus proclaimed in a report in Taiwan Education (issue 359, June 1, 1932). The report described how audience wept when seeing the three braves determined to die for the Empire in destroying enemy’s barbed-wire defenses. (ibid.)

It is not clear, however, whether showing the “Three Human Bomb Patriots” film was an initiative of Danan Youth Corps’ own, or it was an activity held with the instruction from the related government body. Considering the fact that commonly a Japanese film would only be imported to Taiwan two, three months after its premiere in Japan at the time (Umino: 3), and that the first Human Bomb Patriot feature to reach the screen in Japan was in the month of March (High: 36), the “Three Human Bomb Patriots” film shown in Danan must have been imported to Taiwan for special purpose, and very likely by the Colonial government.. As aggressive patriotism became popular in homeland islands, voices urging thorough cultivation of the “national spirit” were publicly supported. Large doses of ultra-nationalism and militarism were injected into the curriculum of Japan’s elementary schools. The exhibitions of films such as the one about the “Three Human Bomb Patriots” would become more and more frequent as the fighting in China continued to spread.

Newsreels became popular in Taiwan after July 1937

After the China Incident[48] broke out in July 1937, newsreels on battles with China began to pour in Taiwan. Starting in late August, newsreels about the wars in China were regularly shown to fully packed audience in Taipei City Public Auditorium during weekends. The exhibition was held by an NPO, Taipei City Community Service Women’s Committee (Taipei shakai jigyō josei kai臺北社會事業女性會).[49] Sources of newsreels were films produced by Japanese news organizations, such as Osaka Mainichi Shimbun and its opponent Asahi Shimbun, as well as cartoons and newsreels from Fox and Paramount.[50] The enthusiasm towards newsreel about wars[51] prompted theater operators to join the bandwagon. In November the first newsreel theater was open in Taipei. World Newsreel Theater signed contracts with Taiwan Nichi Nichi Shimpō, Tokyo Nichi Nichi-Osaka Mainich, Yomiuri Shimbun, and other Japanese news organizations[52] to show their newsreels. Tōwa Trading Co.’s shorts and animation films were also featured.[53]

It should be noted that newsreels started to be shown in theaters throughout Taiwan at much earlier time. In 1923, Taiwan Nichi Nichi Shimpō (Tainichi) founded its motion pictures department to produce newsreels and feature films. However, its production was not on regular track until the newsreel frenzy after China Incident.[54] It was in 1931, when Tokyo Nichi Nichi-Osaka Mainich Film Library established its Taiwan branch in Taihoku that newsreels began to be regularly seen in theaters and elsewhere. As the only distribution organization for non-fiction films in Japan, the Film Library in effect became the sole distributor of educational films to schools and other institutions. The Colonial government started to rely on its newsreels and educational films for social education purpose. (Government-General of Taiwan [1933]: 50)

In early September 1937, two months after China Incident broke out, newsreels and “special” films were offered by Taiwan Nichi Nichi Shimpō, Osaka Mainich Shimbun, and Yomiuri Shimbun to the Colonial government for lending to local governments for touring exhibition in rural Taiwan. Colonial government would purchase from each of these new organizations fifty some reels of newsreels and other war-related documentaries a year later. (Government-General of Taiwan [1938]:65) To the Colonial government, “the propaganda effect of a picture is better than a million words, and a film better than a hundred pictures.” (Government-General of Taiwan [1941]: 87)

Realizing the effect of educational film’s content on general public, government-general urged anyone involved in the film business to screen film of “virtue” to the public. Therefore, after the China Incident, film education on the island was totally committed to screening newsreels of current affairs and educational films to lift the national consciousness about the war situation and the accurate understanding about the wars in mainland China. (ibid.) It is conceivable that all these newsreels “were invariably edited into a patriotically gratifying form,” as pointed out by High (1995: 95), but they also “opened the public’s eyes to the pleasures of ‘documentary realism.’” This may explain partially the early enthusiasm of local audience towards newsreels on wars in China, since there was no ground for jingoistic patriotism in the colony in the early days of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Sensing the seriousness of the wars on China mainland, the Colonial government, however, quickly respond with a sudden shift in policy.

Tainichi began regularly producing a newsreel series, Tainichi Talkie News Film, in December 1936, after several modernized cinemas were (re)built and interest in the situation in China increased. The newsreels were first shown in four theaters in Taipei, and then in other major cities soon after. Tainichi hoped the newsreels would enhance the understanding of Taiwanese audiences about all the positive advancements being made within Japan. Released on 26 December, the first two editions of the newsreel included political and local news in Japan, sports, cultural activities, weekly topics, and international news. The third edition was a retrospective of the major happenings in Japan during 1936. There were more than 50 editions per year, with additional special reports and special editions about major events.

After the eruption of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, Tainichi Talkie News Film was expanded to include a “North China Incidents Special Edition,” later renamed “Sino-Japanese Incidents Special Edition,” besides the 50-some editions of regular newsreels, in which soft news, though still available, was minimized. All of the newsreels were shown throughout Taiwan by traveling exhibition teams from Tainichi’s motion pictures department and some local organizations that were instrumental in promoting the Colonial government’s Japanization (kōminka) policy.

On 15 August 1937 Taiwan was announced as being at war by the Government-General Office. Subsequently, Tainichi adjusted policy and increased manpower in its newsreel department, including the number of personnel involved with production and exhibition. Rather than relying on films made about the war in China by other organizations, Tainichi decided to send its own reporter and cameraman to the battlefield. Army correspondent Sasamori Jihei (笹森治兵衛) and cameraman Fukuhara Masao (福原正雄) went to North China, and when the war expanded to South China, army correspondent Hamanaka Hiroyuki (濱中博之) and cameraman Nagai Saburōsuke (永井三郎助) were also sent.

    On 24 May 1940 Taiwan Nichi Nichi Shimpō announced that the 158th edition of the “Sino-Japanese Incident Special Edition” of Tainichi Talkie News Film would be the last issue. In line with the Japanese government’s “control (tōsei統制)” policy, Tainichi Talkie News Film had been taken over by Japan News Film Company (Nippon News Eiga Sha), a major production company established in April 1940 from the merger of four large news film companies – Asahi, Mainichi, Dōmei, and Yomiuri – following that same national policy. Tainichi continued to produce current affairs news documentaries until 1942, when it was no longer able to acquire any raw stock, tightly controlled by the wartime government since 1941.The motion pictures department of Taiwan Nichi Nichi Shimpō remained active entertaining troops in Taipei after it formed an “Imperial Army Film Troop” in February 1942. It merged in September of that year with Taiwan Film Association.

The last days of the motion pictures unit of Taiwan Education Society

The Japanization policy of the 1930s and 1940s did influence the schools significantly, but according to Tsurumi, innovative implementation of the Japanization policy, a serious endeavor to transform all Taiwanese rapidly into imperial subjects, took place largely outside the formal education system. Targeted at those Taiwanese who never attended elementary school, and thus did not come into contact with the Japanization effort, new measures were designed to improve their social and economic conditions, and campaigns were held to spread Japanese language and culture and to increase common school attendance. Using slogans such as “arousing the national spirit” and “advocating national defense,” these “social education projects” were particularly directed at the countryside. (Tsurumi: 109-110)

Film screening was one of the integral elements of such “social education projects.” The TES was instrumental in providing films about current situations to local touring exhibition organizations, which, on behalf of local governments, screened these films throughout Taiwan, including in fishing villages and remote mountain villages. In general, the number of such screenings, how many reels shown, audience attendance, and allotted budgets, all increased steadily from the early 1930s to the 1940s. By mid-1940, the number of viewers reached by film screenings in the “social education project” was estimated at 4 million, more than four times that of public education screenings across Taiwan in 1927. The TES assisted at many of these screenings.

In the eyes of the Colonial government, however, these local screenings by various organizations lacked unified guidelines and were not integrated. Thus, they duplicated each other’s efforts and were a waste of resources. After the National Mobilization Law was passed by the Imperial Diet in April 1938, the Colonial government started to ask all civilian film organizations to form one unified association to jointly procure and sell films. Consequently, film distributors established an association in 1940, followed by tour exhibitors and theater owners. Nonprofit local film organizations were the last to be unified and controlled by the Provisional Ministry of Information (Rinji jōhō bu臨時情報部) of the Colonial government. In September 1941, all local film organizations were integrated into the newly established Taiwan Film Association (Taiwan Eiga Kyōkai or Tai’ei臺灣映畫協會).

Toward the end of Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan, the TES’s motion pictures unit was one of only three film production organizations still functioning. By 1941, due to the imperial government’s strict control of raw film stock, filmmakers’ attitudes toward film production in Taiwan was rather suppressed and few films were made by the TES. Most of these were related to situations in Southern China, where the TES sent Hagiya, who fell fatally ill. Finally, in September 1942, one year after Tai’ei was established, the TES’s motion pictures unit was taken over by the Taiwan Film Association, along with its personnel and facilities, which became the foundation of the Association. After losing its motion pictures department, Taiwan Education Society continued fulfilling its other functions until the end of World War II, with the exception of publishing its monthly journal, which ceased publication in 1943 due to government policy.

Taiwan Film Association and the end of the Pacific War

Taiwan was declared in a state of war by the Colonial government on 15 August 1937, five weeks after the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out. The Provisional Ministry of Information (Rinji jōhō bu臨時情報部) was established in the Government- General Office to take charge of collecting and reporting information, implement national policy, and enlighten the natives, as well as to serve as liaison between related organizations and to make organizational changes. Thus, the Colonial government directly involved itself in policy advocacy and content control of media, including film. When the National Mobilization Law (Kakka sōdōin hō國家總動員法) was passed by the Imperial Diet in April 1938, Taiwan Government-General Office began to require the automatic establishment of a unifying organization in each trade initially, and an association later, to collectively procure and sell commodities. Under pressure from such state control, distributors were the first in the film industry to establish a trade association in 1940, followed by tour exhibitors, and owners of stage theaters and cinemas. Local non-profit film organizations were the last to be controlled by the Colonial government.

   On 1 September 1941, the Taiwan Film Association (Taiwan eiga kyōkai) was established under the direction of the Provisional Ministry of Information. Membership in Tai’ei was comprised of local film organizations in the jurisdiction of each and every shū (prefecture) or chō (subprefecture) government. The secretary-general of the Colonial government was designated president of Tai’ei, and the deputy minister in the Ministry of Information was vice-president, although this was soon changed. The revision made the directors of the Bureau of Culture and Education as well as the Bureau of Police Affairs two vice-presidents. In addition, the chief of each shū (that administered more developed areas) or chō (that administered marginal areas) government was assigned a position as consultant, and the representative of each local film organization became a councilor in Tai’ei.

   The official goals of the Taiwan Film Association were to promote production and distribution of “quality” films, develop the film industry, and utilize films for the “enlightenment” of the populace so as to advance culture on the island. By 1940, there were all types of local organizations involved in showing films, including some tour exhibition units formed to “educate” as well as to provide entertainment to villagers living in the remote mountains and fishing villages. As was mentioned earlier, the Colonial government considered previous local screenings lacking unified guidelines and duplicating each other, and thus, was a waste of resources. Tai’ei was established to provide such guidelines, serving as a liaison to monitor and coordinate screenings in each shū or chō. The (Provisional) Ministry of Information, which had had no affiliates when first established, was finally able to assert control across the island, now that all local film organizations were its subordinated institutions.

The main work of Tai’ei included: (1) producing films; (2) distributing films in Taiwan, Southern China and Southeast Asia; (3) recommending films and being the agent for them; (4) assisting and guiding its members; and (5) publishing an internal journal. The Taiwan Film Association set up its own projection teams to assist projecting 35mm films by its members in the five shūs and three chōs across Taiwan, following a 40-day schedule every two months. Each screening usually showed 12 to 13 reels of film, which included two to three reels of Japanese newsreels that had been shown earlier in cinemas throughout Taiwan, and two to three reels of bunka eiga (cultural films or documentary films), and/or enlightening informational films, as well as eight to nine reels of fiction films.

The island-round screenings started on 21 October 1941, taking place twice in 1941, and five times the next year. Tai’ei regularly distributed four newsreels per month to each shū or chō for local screenings. It was also possible for members to borrow additional films. In 1942, 156 such individual loans were made. Film distribution was stopped after 1943, due to fewer films available caused by the implementation of the imperial government’s new frugal policy to distribute negative films only to film companies making “worthy” film projects. Thereafter, all film exhibition by local non-profit film organizations was taken over by three 35mm and two 16mm mobile projection teams from the Taiwan Exhibition Control Association, established in April 1942.

As for the production of film, Tai’ei was among three institutions capable of making films during the final period of Japanese rule; the others were the Taiwan Education Society and Taiwan Nichi Nichi Shimpō discussed earlier in this essay. The main duty of Tai’ei was to enlighten native Taiwanese. Therefore, producing bunka eiga (documentary) and enlightening informational film was Tai’ei’s responsibility, while making educational film was the responsibility of the TES, and current affairs film or newsreel that of Tainichi. As the control over film negatives was tightened after 1941, the attitude toward making such films became more cautious and standards more rigorous, causing Tainichi to stop film production completely and the other two institutions to produce only a few reels of films the following year. That was the reason behind Taiwan Film Association taking over of the film production units of both Tainichi and the TES in September 1942. Afterwards, production of non-fiction films resumed and flourished when negative film was allocated directly to Tai’ei by the Ministry of Information in the imperial government.

Most of Tai’ei’s personnel and production facilities came from the TES. To improve its capability in film production, Tai’ei acquired the warehouse of Tait & Co. (德記洋行), Ltd. in Dadaocheng (Daitōtei大稻埕), northern Taipei City, and turned it into a film studio with directing, cinematography, and film projection departments, as well as having its own film laboratory. Subsequently, Tai’ei became a self-sustaining film production organization capable of filming, sound recording, film processing, and printing. The first productions by Tai’ei were a dozen reels of documentary film showing civilian conditions on the island. As the Pacific War escalated and Taiwan became the southward base for the Japan Empire, Tai’ei began to produce films related to the war, such as Captive Life of Generals Who Lost in the War (Yabureta shōgun tachi furyo no seikatsu敗れた将軍達捕虜の生活). The 1942 film showed prison life of British officers and soldiers, from the Southeast Asia theater of the Pacific War, who were imprisoned near Taipei City.

Tai’ei was not capable of producing fiction films, however. To solve this problem, it implemented a coproduction policy. Before the Taiwan Film Association was founded, the Ministry of Information had coproduced Pirates of the Sea (directed by Arai Ryōhei荒井良平, 1942) with Nikkatsu. The national policy film, about a naval engagement between the Dutch and Japanese forces led by swashbuckler Hamada Yahei (濱田彌兵衛) in the early 17th century, glorified the ambition and spirit of southward adventures. This was in line with the southward policy and building of the “Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere” advocated by the military and Colonial government.

In 1942, Tai’ei coproduced Sayon’s Bell (Sayon no kaneサヨン の鐘, directed by Shimizu Hiroshi清水宏, 1943), with the Manchurian Film Association (Man’ei), starring Man’ei’s Ri Koran (Li Xianglan李香蘭, aka Yoshiko Ōtaka大鷹淑子 or Shirley Yamguchi山口淑子). The national policy film was written, produced, and directed by personnel of Shochiku. It was based on a true story about the tragic death of an aboriginal girl, Sayon, who was a devoted member of the youth corps. She fell into a turbulent river while carrying a heavy suitcase for her school teacher-policeman, who had been drafted into the army. Celebrating her “patriotic” deeds, the film was used by the Colonial government both to promote patriotism and as an inspirational call for Aborigines to fight in battle for the Empire.

In October 1942, Tai’ei hired two directors from mainland Japan – Kimura Jirō (木村次郎) of Asahi Eiga and Teragawa Chiaki (寺川千秋) of Nikkatsu – to join the TES’s technicians, including director Takei Shigerujūrō (武井茂十郎), cameramen Aihara Shokichi (相原正吉) and Kataoka Yuzuru (片岡讓), soundperson Togoe Tokiyoshi (戶越時吉), and editor/lab technicians Mr. and Mrs. Sasaki (佐佐木). By May 1943, after conditions had improved for its staff and organization, Tai’ei started to regularly produce a series of newsreels, Taiwan Film Monthly (Taiwan eiga geppō臺灣映畫月報). Six separate editions of the “monthly” were actually issued each month – three regular editions and three special editions. A news documentary film was also released every two months. The newsreels, narrated in Japanese, were mainly reports of events on the island. The news documentary films, on the other hand, included Captive Life of Generals Who Lost in the War (Part 2) (Zoku Yabureta shōgun tachi furyo no seikats續敗れた将軍達捕虜の生活, 1943), War and Training (Sensō atae kunren戦争与え訓練, 1943), promoting achievements of the Japanization (kōminka) policy, Magic Soldiers of Tomorrow (Ashita no kamihei明日の神兵, 1943), recording life inside the training center for special army volunteer soldiers, Forty-Eight Years of Drilling (Rensei yonjū hachi nen錬成四十八年), representing various training in preparation for the war in Taiwan, made in commemoration of the 48th anniversary of Japanese rule in Taiwan, and Gratitudes from 6.5 Million (Rokuhyaku gojū man no kangeki六百五十萬の感激, 1944), publicizing how the Taiwanese “warmly welcomed” conscription. These news documentaries were considered immature by Japanese critics on the mainland due to the poor quality of the scripts and filmmaking technique. It was thought that the inconvenience of transportation in Taiwan made filmmaking inefficient, and the short time frame for completion of the films also contributed to the impossibility of quality control.

With deterioration of the situation on the battlefield, and constant bombardment by the United States Air Force, as well as the limited amount of negative film stock allocated to Tai’ei, the number of newsreels and news documentaries produced by Tai’ei declined rapidly in 1944. Soon after Japan surrendered to the Allies in August 1945, Taiwan Film Association stopped all its activities. Most of its Japanese staff was repatriated after the Nationalist government took over Tai’ei. A few technicians, including cameramen Aihara Shokichi and Kataoka Yuzuru, soundperson Togoe Tokiyoshi, and editor/lab technicians Mr. & Mrs. Sasaki were temporarily retained and involved in producing additional newsreels, such as the arrival of Chief Executive Chen Yi (陳儀), the surrender ceremony of the Taiwan theater, and people in Taiwan celebrating the end of the War.


   Film was introduced to Taiwan from Japan after it had become the emerging power in the East, under the Meiji Restoration. In the early days, films were shown in the newly acquired colony by businessmen, who had promoted it as a scientific invention from the West to attract Japanese and native audiences.

   However, right from the beginning Japanese politicians such as Gotō Shimpei and Itō Hirobumi had envisioned the use of film as a propaganda and educational (brainwashing) tool to help the Colonial government persuade the local populace to accept Japanese rule. The Government-General Office had delegated this use of film to businessmen such as Takamatsu Toyojirō, and did not take filmmaking seriously as a governmental business until 1917 when they could no longer rely on Takamatsu, who had decided to close his businesses and leave Taiwan.

   Films made in the 1900s and 1910s by commercial companies under the auspices of the Colonial government were mainly for the purpose of promoting modern imagess of Taiwan to members of the Royal family, politicians, entrepreneurs, educators, and the general population of mainland Japan, to persuade entrepreneurs to invest in the colony, and to entice educators to teach in Taiwan.

   Such practices continued even after the motion pictures department of the Taiwan Education Society was established in late 1910s. But using film to promote modern imagess of the colony was obviously to no avail since even in the 1940s, after 50 years of Japanese rule, many Japanese were still afraid of visiting Taiwan for fear of contracting tropical diseases and head-hunting.

   In the 1920s the Colonial government had realized that film was a very important tool to improve the quality of local manpower. Thus, the Taiwan Education Society started to hold regular training sessions for the staffs of local governments. Starting in 1923, many local governments conducted their own film projection training sessions, and by the early 1930s similar training sessions would be held not only for local government staff, but for school and tax bureau employees as well. By 1924, most public education film screenings throughout Taiwan had been taken over by local governments’ projection units. By 1930, screenings by local film associations were very common in Taiwan. Such a development not only helped the Colonial government promote government policy through films, but also allowed Taiwan Education Society to devote more of its efforts to make “educational” films promoting national policy.

   Taiwan Education Society not only produced educational films for schoolchildren and the general public, but also propaganda films to cultivate national spirit and promote the concept of loyalty of subjects for prosperity of the Imperial Throne and nationalism, and thus, in a way, to promote militarism as well. After Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1934, following the 1931 Manchurian Incident and the 1932 Shanghai Incident, films made by TES showed a tendency to promote patriotism and militarism, in order to achieve the objectives of assimilation (or Japanization of the native population in Taiwan), and were less interested in educational subjects.

   When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, newsreels became major sources of information about battles in the mainland for the local populace. Newsreels screened in Taiwan came not only from Japanese production companies, but from filmmaking units of Taiwan Nichi Nichi Shimpō and Taiwan Education Society. Though the Colonial government did not involve itself directly in the making of these newsreels, it did urge the film industry to screen films of “virtue” to the public. Screening of educational films and newsreels of current affairs was committed to lifting national consciousness about the war situation, and to accurate understanding about the wars in mainland China. The making of newsreels about the war by two local institutions continued until the early 1940s, when the Japanese government’s “control” policy was implemented.

   Taiwan Film Association became the only filmmaking institution after 1942. The works of the government-affiliated institution included producing newsreels and documentaries, as well as distributing films in Taiwan, Southern China, and Southeast Asia. One film critic from Japan proper, however, considered the quality of films produced by Taiwan Film Association to be inferior due to the poor quality of the scripts and filmmaking technique. It was thought that the inconvenience of transportation in Taiwan made filmmaking inefficient, and the short time frame for completion of the films also contributed to the impossibility of quality control. (Sugiyama: 52). Nevertheless, they represent the efforts the Colonial government took during its last days to inspire the morale and to encourage the natives to fight for the Empire.

   Before establishing its own filmmaking unit, the Government-General Office co-produced three feature-length films with commercial film companies from mainland Japan. The effect of Pirates of the Sea (a costume drama glorifying the ambition and spirit of southward adventures) and Sayon’s Bell (based on a true story, promoting patriotism and calling for Aborigines to fight for the Empire) was not satisfactory to the Colonial governments. Failure of such co-productions in the eyes of the Government-General Office proved that national policy films not only found it hard to achieve desirable effects, but could also even be harmful to both filmmakers and commissioned governmental bodies.

   The 50-year film policies of the Government-General Office in Taiwan thus may be summarized into three stages: (1) propaganda and enlightening, between 1900 and 1917, in which films were used to enlighten and to promote government policies to native Taiwanese and to promote a modern images of Taiwan to mainland Japanese; (2) social and school education, between 1917 and 1937, with emphasis at first to popularize social education to improve the quality of local manpower, and later to making films for use as supplements to textbooks; (3) propaganda, after 1937, to promote nationalism, militarism, and the policy of Japanization.



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[1] The Lumière Brothers’ Cinématographe was shown in Taiwan in June 1900 . It was brought in by a Japanese businessman living in Taipei, Oshima Butaichi(大島豬市), who had invited projectionist Matsuura Shōzō(松浦章三) from French Auto Phantom Pictures Association(仏国自動幻画協会) in Osaka to show the Lumières’ films in the newly acquired colony. Nine months earlier, in September 1899, an Edison Vitascope was shown in a Taipei theater. There was another report in the local newspaper on September 5, which stated that a Cantonese had utilized a “Western Electric Shadow Play Machine” for a show a month ago in a local Chinese community in Taipei. The exact nature of the moving pictures that were shown is not clear, however.




[3] The Patriotic Women’s Association (Aikoku Fujinkai) was established in Japan in 1901 by Okumura Ioko, following her experiences as a member of the imperial comfort delegation to Beijing and Tianjin when the Boxer Rebellion broke out in 1900. The objectives of the organization were primarily to comfort soldiers and support war-bereaved families. Its strong ties with the imperial family had made it very popular among the social elites. Local chapters of the organization quickly spread throughout Japan. Chapters in Taichu (Taichung), Tainan, and Taihoku (Taipei) were set up in 1904. The main Taiwan chapter was finally established in 1905. Its membership mainly consisted of the wives of Japanese high officers and businessmen, as well as the wives of Taiwan gentry and social elites.


[4] Following the advice of Mochiji Rokusaburō, the Japanese colonial rulers in an Aboriginal Affairs Committee meeting decided to divide Taiwan’s indigenous people into three groups, based on the degree of “evolution” and their “obedience” to Japanese rule: those who had evolved to the standard of the Chinese, lived in the Japanese administrated area, and obeyed Japanese laws were “ripe aborigines” (jukuban); those who had evolved somewhat, lived outside the Japanese administrated area, obeyed Japanese laws, such as paying taxes, were “acculturated aborigines” (kaban); “raw aborigines” (seiban) were those who had not evolved much, lived outside the Japanese administrated area, and never obeyed the de-facto rule of Imperial Japan. (Fujii: 154-157)


[5] Films shown in the touring exhibitions were mainly historical drama, samurai stories, and films adapted from family novels. The total number of film titles was between 20 and 30. (Ōhashi: 137)


[6] The list of films donated (or deposited) to the Taiwan Education Society showed 20 titles related to the military operations against the Aborigines. See Taiwan Education, Issue 176 (February 1917): 84.


[7] According to Fujisaki (1931), “mainland sightseeing” began in 1897 when thirteen representatives from four indigenous tribes – Atayal, Bunun, Tsou, and Paiwan – were sent to visit Nagasaki, Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokosuka Port.


[8] It should be noted that according to Takamatsu (10-11) and reports published in Taiwan Daily News (Taiwan nichinichi shimpō) on June 9 and December 26, 1907, as well as January 5, 1908, Takamatsu Toyojirō had brought five young aborigines from Alisan Mountain with him to Japan to perform indigenous dances before the screenings of An Introduction to the Actual Conditions in Taiwan, a film Takamatsu produced on behalf of the Colonial government, at the Tokyo Industrial Exposition, the Reichstag (帝國議事堂), Eastern Association (東洋協會), as well as the Yūrakuza (有樂座) Thearer in Tokyo, Kakuza (角座) Theater in Osaka, and theaters in other major Japanese cities from Hokkaido in the north to Hokuriku, San'in, Chūgoku, and Kyūshū in the south. He took these indigenous people to famous sightseeing places and also visited troops and warships. The young visitors were also summoned by Emperor Meiji in the royal residence in Aoyama. They returned to Taiwan at the end of 1907, and were summoned by Governor-General Sakuma before being sent back to Alisan Mountain. Takamatsu called the trip to Japan for the Tsou indigenous “mainland sightseeing” as well (11).


[9] Taiwan Daily News (Taiwan nichinichi shimpō) reported at length, on February 13-14 and 22-23, 1907, the content Takamatsu intended to film. The reporter admired Takamatsu’s devotion in using the film to represent Taiwan, “the model colony of the world.” The newspaper had obviously been frustrated by the lack of information about Taiwan for Japanese living in the mainland, and expected that film would be a more effective medium than writing or painting to represent the culture, customs, political system, products, and industrial development in Taiwan. On May 4, the same newspaper published a report on the premier of An Introduction to the Actual Conditions in Taiwan in Taipei’s Asahiza, fully describing in detail every shot in the film.


[10] A report in Taiwan Daily News (Taiwan nichinichi shimpō) on April 12, 1907 stated that the film would be shown in Taipei in May, and then at the Tokyo Exposition.


[11] The film was also called Kankoku Kan(韓国観), photographed and directed by FukuiShigekazu(福井繁一)。


[12] Two news films related to colonial government’s conquering activities were shown in theaters in Tokyo respectively in August and October of 1910. M. Pathé’s Heroes of Taiwan Punitive Expedition (Taiwan tōbatsutai no yūshi臺湾討伐隊の勇士) was shown on August 7 in Tokyo’s Engiza Theater. Yokota Company’s The Actual Conditions of Conquering Taiwan’s Rebels (Taiwan dohi seitō no jikkyō臺湾土匪征服の実況) was shown on October 5 in Tokyo’s Seikaikan Theater. Though there’s lack of detail information about these two films, considering the tight control of activities regarding military activities in Taiwan at the time, these two films might either have been edited from the existing films or have been invited or assisted by the colonial government in producing these films.


[13] Another information source in the 159th issue of Taiwan Education indicated it was the Land Tenure Foundation for Education (Gakuso Zaidan學租財團) that bought the machines, which could be used for both slide and film projection, and leased them to the Taiwan Education Society. (129) Since the Land Tenure Foundation for Education was also administrated by the Ministry of Educational Affairs, it makes no difference which is true.


[14] According to The 13th Government-General of Taiwan’s Annual Report on Education Affairs (Taiwan sōtokufu gakuji dai jūsan nenpō臺灣總督府學事第十三年報) published in 1916, the popular education section of the Taiwan Education Society was founded in 1914. (37)


[15] Some of its budget came from government-related foundations, such as the Emperor-endowed Taiwan Beauty Promotion Society Foundation (onshi zaidan Taiwan saibi-kai恩賜財團臺灣濟美會) and the Emperor-endowed Taiwan Student Encouragement Society Foundation (onshi zaidan Taiwan shougaku-kai恩賜財團臺灣獎學會), which were both administrated by the governmentgeneral of Taiwan. Some of the money was given specifically for producing or purchasing educational films.


[16] One would be interested to know that as early as 1895 two Taiwanese students had already been selected to visit mainland Japan and were accompanied by Isawa Shūji(伊澤修二), acting chief of education bureau (gakumu bu學務部) of the first government-general’s civil department (minsei kyoku民政局). As a matter of fact, at the early stage of the colonial rule, as an effort in promoting the use of Japanese language, naichi kankō(內地觀光), the policy of the police bureau since 1900s, which invited leaders of Taiwan’s aborigines to visit modernized Japan, was also applied to Taiwanese students who attended the Japanese Language School. It was hoped that the students would spread their words to their families and fellow countrymen about the modernized Japan and the Japanese military power. (Taiwan Education Society Journal Chinese Edition, issue 148: 7)


[17] Gotō was known to think that “assimilation equals discrimination.” He said that “… assimilating people of different dispositions through a national language is difficult…” (quoted in Shimomura [2006]: 281) His passive attitude towards assimilation had been followed by his successive administrations until 1918 when Governor-General Akashi actively pursued an assimilation policy.


[18] According to the Social Education Section of the Taiwan Education Society (1934), even by early 1930s, almost forty years after colonization, there were still only slightly more than 1-million Taiwanese (around 22% of the population), who were able to understand the Japanese language. (3)


[19] According to the Social Education Section of the Taiwan Education Society (1934), by the early 1930s only 20,000 (less than 3%) of young Taiwanese were educated in schools, and another 50,000 received their education from the Youth Troup or other youth organizations. (3-4)


[20] The statistical numbers were from The 16th Statistical Books of Government-General of Taiwan’s Annual Report of Educational Affairs (31), which was published annually between 1904 and 1940 by the department in charge of educational affairs for the Government-General of Taiwan. See bibliography for further information.


[21] See Micha F. Lindemans’ explanation of “Amaterasu” in Encyclopedia Mythica™ . Downloaded October20, 2010.


[22] Fong (2006) quoted from Nakanishi Ushiro (1914). Dōkaron(同化論On assimilation). Taihoku: Sato Genpei(佐藤源平).


[23] Tanaka (1979) said that it was the first time ever for an Emperor-to-be to travel abroad. Therefore, the Crown Prince’s activities were of great interest for the Japanese at the time. It was estimated that 7-million people, about one tenth of the population of Japan, had seen the film. (44) 


[24] According to Taiwan Education, the film was reviewed by the Crown Prince on September 30, 1923, almost five months after his departure from the port of Kiryū (Keelung).


[25] See a report in Taiwan Education (Issue 258: 79) for more details.


[26] See the annual report to the 19th Governors’ Meeting of Taiwan Education Society. (Taiwan Education, Issue 270: 88) and a report in a Chinese-language issue of Taiwan Education (Issue 256: 8)


[27] The need to expand its capability to make and screen more films prompted the TES to hire new technicians. In 1922, cameraman Miura Masao(三浦正雄)was brought from Japan to work with Hagiya. Between October and December 1922, the two of them produced four non-fiction films, Hot Springs in Hokutō (Beitou), Hygiene Campaign in Taichū Shū (Taizhong prefecture, Motorized Military Maneuvering in Taichū Plain, and Fire Prevention Campaign in Takao Shū. Each year during the early 1920s, the TES produced about 25 films with its own cameramen and purchased another 20 or so Japanese and foreign educational films. By March 1924, a total of 84 films had been made by Hagiya, Miura, and their assistants.  


[28] Due to the similarity in Kanji writing and pronunciation of Hagiya Kenzō’s family and given names, various references to that name were reported from different information sources in the late 1910s and 1920s in Taiwan. After carefully checking the name used in the first report about him, printed in Taiwan Daily News (Taiwan nichinichi shimpō), I found that it was the same as the name used more consistently in reports published in the 1920s’ Taiwan Education, monthly journal of the Taiwan Education Society, and confirmed the correct name of cameraman hired from M. Kashī in Tokyo by TES should be Hagiya Kenzō. His past employment record is similar to Ogino Kenzō(荻野賢造), a cameraman with a similar name in Kanji. According to Tanaka Junichirō (1979: 25), Ogino Kenzō worked for M. Pathé (1906-1912), funded by Umeya Shokichi(梅屋庄吉), who also funded M. Kashī (1915-1916). It is very likely that Tanaka Junichirō made a mistake in the mention of the cameraman’s name in his book.


[29] An interesting article in a journal vividly described the filming of Taipei school children practicing swimming skills in the Kote Shō swimming site. The swimming site was actually part of the Shinmise (Hsintien) River. Children were supposed to swim from the swimming site six miles downstream to Monga. Shooting of the activity had to be postponed for a week due to a typhoon. Water was still quite muddy and cold on the day of the shooting. Among the 92 students participated in the long-distance swimming activity, only 49 managed to finish the full course. See Taiwan Daily News (Taiwan nichinichi shimpō), August 25, 1917 and Kei (1917).


[30] It was claimed that such an exhibition on hygiene had never before been held in Taiwan. See Taiwan Police Association Journal (Taiwan keisatsu kyōkai zasshi臺灣警察協會雜誌), Issue 4 (September 20, 1917): 72-73.


[31] Ts’ai (2009) pointed out that only 164 Japanese died in battle when the Japanese took over Taiwan; in contrast, 4,642 Japanese soldiers died from malaria or other contagious diseases, and an additional 26,094 contracted diseases. (110)


[32] Two of each from Taihoku (Taipei), Shinchiku (Hsinchu/Xinzhu), Taichū (Taichung/Taizhong) and Taitō (Taidong); seven from Tainan; nine from Takao (Kaohsiung/Gaoxiong); and one each from Hualian and the police bureau. (Taiwan Education, Issue 241: 69)


[33] For example, to celebrate Education Day, each year TES would hold film screenings in the Taipei area. On October 30, 1922, however, the evening screenings in Taipei Park and Monga(艋舺)were funded by the Government of Taihoku (Taipei) City, while in Daitoutei(大稻埕)they were supported by Taihoku Shū(臺北州). (Taiwan Education, Issue 246: 66)


[34] TES held 70 screenings that year, while local governments’ projection units held 561 screenings in total. Of these, Tainan shū was responsible for 171, and Shinchiku shū, 102 screenings. (Taiwan Education, Issue 300: 150)


[35] Films such as Funeral of Former Governor-General Akashi, The Landing of a Navy Airplane in Kiryū , The Activities of the Army’s Heat-Resisting Automobile Troops in Takao, Scenes of People Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Day for Commemorating the Beginning of the Japanese Rule, Scenes of HRH Prince Kuni-no-miya’s Visit, Scenes of HRH Prince Kitashirakawa-no-miya’s Visit, Governor-General Uchida’s Landing on Taiwan, The Advanced Flying Skill of the Police Air Force, The Submarine in Kiryū Port, Inspecting the Military Parade in Front of the Office of the Governor-General on January 8, 1924, as well as films about the Crown Prince’s activities (including, of course, his visit to Taiwan) and Taipei citizens celebrating the Crown Prince’s marriage on January 26, 1924.


[36] One film was about the ceremony celebrating the birthday of Lord Cheng Huang (城隍爺ジョウコウジイ), one about the ceremony celebrating the birthday of the deity Mazu at the Chaotian Temple (朝天宮) in Beigang (Hokukou北港), one about dragon-boat racing, and a film recording of indigenous dances.


[37] The titles of these films are: Taiwan Education, Kiryū Seaside School Attached Elementary School (Kiryū Rinkai Gakkou Fushoku shougakkou基隆臨海學校附屬小學校), and Aborigine Children’s Education.


[38] Titles included Tokyo (3 reels), Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, Kamakura, From Kiryū to Kobe, Nagoya, Meiji Jingū, Nikkō, and Nara.


[39] The total attendance was added up by this author, based on the number of viewers at each screening, which was provided in reports about events taking place at each location in Kyushu and Tokyo. See Taiwan Education, Issue 218: 51-53.


[40] A special page was dedicated to report this great honor in Taiwan Education, Issue 217 (June 1, 1920). This author suspects that the Crown Prince wanted to see the film depicting actual conditions in Taiwan, because he wanted to prepare for his visit to the island five months later.


[41] According to Taiwan Education, Issue 240: 84, Toda Seizō, head of the motion pictures unit, made a trip to Tokyo in March 1922 to show films introducing Taiwan education. This trip was specifically to show the educational affairs situation at the Tokyo Peace Expo. The motion pictures unit of TES had been preparing material for the occasion since January. This activity was dissimilar and had no relationship with the previous two Introducing the Actual Conditions of Taiwan projects. However, it further confirms the TES’s role of “propagator of Taiwan images”.


[42] Several issues of Taiwan Education had reported about the content shot by the motion pictures unit led by Toda and Hagiya: logging on Alishan Mountain, whaling in Tsuneharu (Hengchun恆春), the salt plains at Hotei Kuchibashi (Budaizui布袋嘴), workers producing camphor in Sankaioku (Sanxia三峽), the Shimotansui River (下淡水溪) Iron Bridge, Bingdong (屏東)Airport, sunrise and moonlit night at Sun Moon Lake, picking tea leaves in Dora (Tongluo銅鑼), and producing tea in Kansai (Guanxi關西), etc.


[43] For example, similar screening sessions took place in 1924, five times in Kyoto, twelve times in Tokyo, and twice in Kumamoto City. (Taiwan Education, Issue 300: 150) In March 1925, Governor-General of Taiwan Isawa entertained members of Noble Houses and the House of Representatives at the Imperial Hotel (Teikoku Hotel), showing them films to introduce conditions on the island of Taiwan. (Taiwan Education, Issue 283: 95) TES’s head of the motion pictures unit, Toda, went to Osaka and Nagoya for two weeks in May 1926, also to exhibit films about the current situation on Taiwan. (Taiwan Education, Issue 288: 65)


[44] Quoted from High (2003): 54.


[45] The first law was called the Law Relating to Laws and Ordinances to Be Enforced in Taiwan under Title 63, henceforth, Title 63. The duration of Title 63 was extended until 1906, when the Law Relating to Laws and Ordinances to Be Enforced in Taiwan was revised under Title 31, which, theoretically restricted the scope of the legislative power of the governor-general, virtually was a continuation of Title 63. Title 31 was in effect until 1921 when another revision emerged. (Wang: 38-41)


[46]  “Utilizing recent documentary scenes of the war, together with the great Japanese spirit shown in the film, the national spirit would be instilled in the general rural population (especially in the aged local women),” proclaimed a report in Taiwan Education, the monthly journal published by the TES.


[47] On February 20, 1932 a three-man suicide squad from the Japanese naval brigade was deployed against Chinese army’s barbed-wire defenses. It succeeded in detonating its bomb, but had disappeared in the explosion that blew a hole in the enemy defenses. On February 23, two newspapers put the story of the anonymous’ battlefield courage on their front page. Two days later, the story were back on front page with photographs under the headline “The Last Moments of Our Three Human Bomb Patriots.” The story set off a frenzy of hysterical, death-worshiping “patrioticism.” Reenactments of the Human Bomb story made its way into bunraku puppet theaters, Shimpa drama troupes, rakugo monologuists, radio plays, novels, many feature films and “documentaries”, and eventually an entry in the officially authorized elementary school reader. (High: 35-36)


[48] Also known as Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the Lugouqiao Incident (蘆溝橋事變), or the July 7 Incident (七七事變), was a battle between Nationalist Chinese Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. It was often considered the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.


[49] Based on a report in Taiwan Women’s Circle (Taiwan fujin kai臺灣婦人界), Vol. 4, No. 9 ( September 1937).


[50] Based on a report in Taiwan Public Opinion (Taiwan kōron臺灣公論), Vol. 2, No. 10 ( October 1, 1937): 12.


[51] It was said that 12,000 viewers attended newsreel screenings in Taipei daily in October 1937. (Taiwan Public Opinion, Vol. 2, No. 12 [ December 1, 1937]: 15)


[52] Other newsreels included All Nippon Talkie News, Osaka Jiji Shimpō, and Hōchi Shimbun.


[53] Based on a report in Taiwan Public Opinion, Vol. 2, No. 12 (December 1, 1937): 15.


[54] During its 20-year history, motion pictures department of Taiwan Nichi Nichi Shimpō (Tainichi) made only a fiction film, God Is Merciless, and a dramatized film used in public health education, Tips for Preventing Cholera (1925). The department is best known for making documentaries about high mountains and had been commissioned to make many promotional films. However, most of the films made by Tainichi’s motion pictures department in the earlier years were about current affairs, such as activities of the imperial family in Taiwan, military drills, sports, and other current event.