Abstract

At the conclusion of the war in 1895, Japan acquired two territories from China: Liaotung Peninsula and Taiwan, including the islands of Penghu. (Hereafter Taiwan will denote the main island of Taiwan and the Penghus.) It is easy to understand why Japan annexed Liaotung: because of its proximity to Korea. But why was she interested in annexing Taiwan, located more than a thousand miles away from the principal battlefield and more than half of it controlled by headhunting aboriginal tribes? According to the conventional interpretation, Japan's decision on the annexation was based on consideration of two factors: (1) the island's potential as a new market, and as a supplier of food and raw materials for the rapidly expanding Japanese capitalism and labor forces and (2) its military value as a stepping-stone for future expansion in south China and southeast Asia. Implicit in such views is the assumption that Japan had planned the annexation long before the war—perhaps as early as 1874, when a Japanese expeditionary force briefly occupied a part of the island.

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