label r shifted
Session C7
Taiwan as a Trans-imperial Space: W. M. H. Kirkwood and Japanese Colonialism
水谷智 Satoshi Mizutani
Faculty of Global and Regional Studies, Doshisha University, Japan

This paper tries to demonstrate how the Japanese colonization of Taiwan since 1895 cannot be fully understood without situating its history within relations which may be called ‘trans-imperial’.  It examines the historical role played by William Montague Hammett Kirkwood (1850-1926), a British legal advisor to the Japanese government at the time.  Why and how did this man from the British empire find himself involved in the rule of Taiwan, an overseas territory of another empire?  How did he compare the colonies of his own empire in Asia with Taiwan, and what was the impact of his comparatist view on his advice regarding the island’s legal status?  To what extent did Kirkwood’s ‘trans-imperial’ involvement help shape the formations of Taiwan as a shokuminchi (colony)?   

This paper is part of my wider project to historicize British and Japanese colonialism in their mutual interactions across or beyond the two empires involved, or in the realm of the ‘trans-imperial’.  In this project, I have been trying to show how the formations and transformations of the Japanese empire, including the developments of anti-imperial struggles within its colonies, were linked with those of the British empire.  Particularly at the beginning of its career as a colonizing force, those involved in the running of the Japanese empire―politicians, officials and scholars―were extremely eager to learn what was then regarded as cutting-edge theories of colonialism which were in circulation among different empires including Britain.  For example, in the context of colonizing Korea around 1905, the Japanese government recruited Japanese legal experts, asking them to conduct extensive comparative research on various examples of colonial protectorate in the world.  As a result, Japan made Korea a protectorate modelled on both Egypt and Tunisia ruled by Britain and France respectively.  In the case of Korea at the time, it was a circle of Japanese officials and academics who played a key role in such a trans-imperial transfer of knowledge on colonialism.  But in the context of Taiwan at the turn of the century, the Japanese government was still reliant directly on foreign advisors for comparative knowledge.  And it was in this context that, along with a French legal expert, Michel Revon, that Kirkwood was brought into the debate on colonial government in the rising empire in East Asia.  Whilst describing the trajectories of Kirkwood’s life and career which unfolded across two empires, this paper explores Taiwan as a trans-imperial space.  It examines the extent to which and how Kirkwood, and by extension British colonialism then taken as a model, influenced the decision of the Japanese government to legally treat Taiwan as a ‘colony’, located outside the jurisdiction of the Meiji constitution.