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The Taiwan Expedition: New Perspectives on Japanese Imperialism and the Meiji Restoration

Robert Eskildsen, International Christian University, Tokyo

March 12, 2019 · 4:30 pm EDT · 202 Jones

Program in East Asian Studies

In the spring of 1874 the Japanese government sent an expedition to southern Taiwan ostensibly to punish indigenous villagers who had murdered dozens of people from Ryūkyū. Contemporary records show that the Japanese government also attempted to colonize eastern Taiwan and it justified its actions using the argument that a state must spread civilization and political authority to territories where it claimed sovereignty. The expedition took place in the context of the unequal treaty system in East Asia and during the contentious early years the Meiji period, and it shows how Japan’s new foreign policy stance in the 1870s combined elements taken from Western imperialism with revolutionary changes in Japan after the Meiji Restoration (1868). The new foreign policy stance spread the effects of the Restoration beyond Japan and accelerated the disruption of dynastic power in East Asia.

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