In 1898, 児玉源太郎 Kodama Gentaro (1852-1906) assumed the post of the 4th Colonial Governor General of Taiwan. He invited his close friend and colleague 後藤新平 Goto Shinpei (1857-1929) [pictured above] to be the Chief Civil Administrator and jointly, they ruled Taiwan for 8 years. Although in reality, Goto was the true governor or the governor in residence and Kodama, the governor in absentia, since the latter was often busy elsewhere in the Japan Empire.
Goto's governance of Taiwan had both short- and long-term components. In the short term, a ruthless iron-fist rule was applied. In order to put down the resistance that had continued since 1895 when the Japanese occupation started, 1,023 rebels were executed in the year 1899 alone. By 1905, a total of 32,000 men were punished or killed. For long-range planning, Goto mobilized resources and manpower and conducted an extensive study of the old habit/custom of the Taiwanese. And from which a number of conclusions were drawn and strategies developed:
(1) The 生物学の原則 Biological Principle for the governance of Taiwan:
Goto was initially trained as a physician who had also done research in Germany (1890) and the results had earned him an MD degree in Japan. The utilization of the scientific method in his other duty as an administrator was therefore a matter of course. This biological principle was essentially to leave things as they were and not to go against Nature. Goto pointed out that it was not possible to, for example, change the eye position of a carp to that of a flounder "ヒラメの目をタイの目にすることは出来ない". To put this in practice, Goto advocated that any effective administering must adapt to, not to alter local circumstances, since people were the product of social customs and systems and were set in their ways.
[A side issue here: this biological principle has often been quoted out of context as evidence of the Taiwanese having been treated by the Japanese as "生物living things", i.e., animals, as opposed to "人humans".]
(2) The 3 traits of Taiwanese:
So what kind of Taiwanese did the society produce? People with 3 traits of weakness, it seemed: (1) fear of death (2) greed, and (3) vanity. These were actually universal human frailties, not necessarily specific to the Taiwanese [not to all Taiwanese anyway, more below]. Regardless, since each one could be easily dealt with in a specific manner, hence the formulation of Goto's 治台三策Three Policies for Governing Taiwan. A search of the original documents proves unproductive, thus the exact wording of the 3 traits remains unclear. The frequently cited version in Chinese appeared on page 14, Vol 145 of 台灣民報 published on Feb 20, 1927, in an article written by 菊仙 (real name: 黃旺成, 1888-1978):
「後藤新平氏在臺灣做民政長官的時候，從臺灣人的性質上發見了三條的弱點，因為要利用這弱點，所以定了治臺的三策：一、臺灣人怕死－－要用高壓的手段威嚇的[1. Fear of death -- therefore the Taiwanese could be threatened with high-pressure tactics]。二、臺灣人愛錢－－可以用小利誘惑的 [2. Greed or amorous love of money -- Taiwanese could be bribed with small favors]。三、臺灣人重面子－－可以用虛名籠絡的 [3. Overly vain or obsession with face-saving -- Taiwanese could be plied with empty titles of renown]。」
The intent of this article was actually to refute the fear of death assertion citing as proof, the failed application of policy No 1 by 內田嘉吉 Uchida Kakichi (1866-1933). In Uchida's role as the Chief Civil Administrator (1910-15), the use of deadly force had not deterred Taiwanese rebels at all. Of the many rebellions under his watch, the most notorious, also the last of its kind, was the 噍吧哖事件 (1915-16) of Tainan, in which the Taiwanese fought unsuccessfully for religious freedom and 1,413 men were later arrested and charged, with 866 sentenced to death (95 executed) and 453 to terms in prison. After the Diet [國會, Ko-Kai, Japanese Parliament] expressed grave concern over the excessive severity of the punishment, the death sentences were commuted to life in prison. Uchida served less than one year (1923-24) as the 9th Governor General and was unceremoniously removed.
That the Taiwanese were not all the same was already known to Goto, however. To him, the Taiwanese could be separated into two camps, the well-to-do gentry [仕紳] upper-class and the rest, and the three human frailties were applicable to the more educated gentry minority, not the vast number of often rebellious common folks. Realizing that in what was really a Confucian society where the gentry class had always commanded respect from the common people, Goto then went to work. By applying Policies 1-3 judiciously, he was able to gather a group of collaborators to negotiate with the fearless rebels on behave of the Japanese. This first attempt was a trial run. It would not be as successful as advertised, at least not productive in the short run, and large revolts continued, well into 1915, after Goto's term ended in 1906.
To probe even further, Goto had also found that the origin of the facing-saving vanity was actually an extension of piety, a merit central to the centuries-old Confucianism.
This, however, seems a stretch. Perhaps the simplest interpretation is that when an authoritative figure (e.g., the Governor General) asked a Taiwanese of some prominence to perform a task, the latter would feel obligated to use all his connections and power to complete the mission, or risked losing face and worse his social standing.
Nonetheless, on a more fundamental level, the Confucius teachings had long been exploited by the ruling class in China, and people were taught since childhood to be respectful of Heaven, Earth, emperors/rulers, parents, and teachers, in that order. And indeed throughout Chinese history, many had chosen to die before betraying their emperors/leaders and their heroic deeds popularized and the heroes honored as martyrs. This ultimate sacrifice was not incompatible with and might have even spawned the Japanese Bushido. Goto decided that the early attempt of erasing Chinese culture, complete with the demolition of the Confucius Temple in Taipei (built in 1882) was a monumental mistake. Confucianism was therefore re-instated and propaganda-worthy cultural events such as honoring the elders and poet gatherings were held, thereby earning the trust of the Taiwanese gentry. The long-term strategy envisioned by Goto essentially formed the core principle of the governance of Taiwan, i.e., by controlling the gentry class first and the commoners would automatically follow. This strategy had proved successful starting at when the revolts finally stopped in 1916 and Taiwan entered a peaceful period until almost the end of the colonial rule in 1945. [Note: One of the richest men of Tamsui and a prominent member of 台北仕紳 (Taipei Gentry), 許丙 (1891-1963), was even elected to the Diet in 1945 as a representative in the Upper House.]
Led by the rich and famous propped up by the Japanese, Taipei Confucius Temple was re-built in 1925 much to the delight of the general public. And for the next 2 decades, a whole generation of Taiwanese was educated, beginning with the compulsory elementary schooling, to be loyal subjects of the Japanese emperor. In the end, however, the assimilation [皇民化 or Japanificaton] was never completed. It is still unclear if this process would ever be successful, it having been interrupted by the surrender of Japan at the end of the Pacific War. Although, in preparing for the war in 1942-45, the governance of Taiwan had shifted away from the Goto Confucianism approach to unadulterated Japanese militarism. This, compounded with the exposure to western democratic ideas and more important, a discontent simmering in the background - stemming from the subtle yet real racial differences between Taiwanese and Japanese, the overt favoritism of the Japanese on all levels, and the forced abandonment of Taiwanese language and religion - had raised the awareness of the Taiwanese identity, however ill-defined at that time.
Unfortunately, an incomplete Taiwanese identity, often confused with Chinese nationalism even among the Taiwanese themselves, rendered it open to character assassination.
During the 1945 Nationalist take-over of Taiwan (above, the welcoming and celebratory banners displayed in Taipei), the Taiwanese law-abiding citizenship was derided as the result of the Japanese slaverizing education [奴化教育], based on a fear of the law rather than the healthy respect of it as that shown by other civilized peoples in the world. The orderly society during the transient absence of law-and-order authorities between Aug and Dec, 1945 was deemed an exhibition of Taiwanese meekness. And the proud work ethic? Well, simply a sign of total submission to their Japanese masters. These dismissive assessments plus the mis-reading of Goto's study proved hugely incorrect. And the long-dormant rebellious Taiwanese character of the Qing era was finally awaken in 1947, in the 228 Incident.