HYI Working Paper Series: Joseph Siu Kam Wah

The Imperialized Japanese Language Education in Colonial Taiwan and the Manchu State (日據臺灣、滿洲時期之皇民化日語教育) (Siu Kam-wah, Joseph 蕭錦華)

Abstract: During WWII, Japan made considerable effort to disseminate the spirit of Japanese Imperial Empire and militarism in its colonies and newly-occupied territories for the sake of wartime mobilization. Formal education especially the primary school education was the most important venue for the Japanese colonial government to inculcate these two ideologies to the teenagers. This paper explores the intensification of the Japanese assimilation and the Japanese ideologies of the Shintoism (神道), Bushidō (武士道), the spirit of Imperial Empire (kōkoku seishin皇国精神), “Loyal Citizen” (chūryō kokumin忠良国民), “Volunteer Labor” (kinrō hōshi勤労奉仕) and militarism in the primary education of the colonial Taiwan and the Manchu State under the policies of “Integration of Japan and the Manchu State in One Virtue and One Mind” (nichiman ittokuisshin日滿一徳一心), “Imperialization” (kōminka皇民化), “Southward Advance” (nanshinkau南進化), industrialization and vocational education (jitsugyō kyōiku実業教育) in World War II especially the Sino-Japanese War. It focuses on the content analysis of the National Language Textbook (12 volumes公學校用國語讀本) and the Elementary Japanese Language Textbook  (4 volumes初等日本語讀本) which had been edited by the Taiwan Government-General (臺灣總督府) and the Japanese Education Association in the Manchu State (在滿日本教育會) respectively since 1937. The contents of the two Japanese language textbooks can generally be classified into ten themes: 1. nature; 2. daily life; 3. industry and transport; 4. literature; 5. common knowledge and advanced technology; 6. history; 7. socio-religious customs; 8. military and administrative system; 9. geography; and 10. current issues. They were greatly influenced by the Japanese wartime policies and were commonly used in public schools in Taiwan and the Manchu State during 1937-1940s. The textbooks attempted to get the primary school students there steadily assimilated to be the “real Japanese” and infused more with the ideologies of Shintoism, Bushidō, the spirit of Imperial Empire, militarism and wartime production knowledge by the immersion approach of learning from the simple Japanese language to the more complex Japanese knowledge, culture and war progress, as both Taiwan and the Manchu State became the economic and military bases of the Japanese Empire. This study reveals that the Japanese language textbook became an effective tool to propagate the Japanese militarism among the teenagers in the colonies during WWII.

Keywords: Japanese Language Education, Japanese Imperialization, Japanese Assimilation, Japanese Militarism, Colonial Taiwan, Manchu State, World War II

(A revised paper presented in the The 2nd Conference on East Asian Culture and International Relations(第二屆東亞文化與國際關係研討會), organized by China Studies Programme, Advanced Institute for Contemporary China Studies, Department of History, and Modern History Research Centre, HKBU, School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University and Central Washington University on 17 April, 2014.)

Full paper [PDF]