In 1926 Taiwan – at the time known as Formosa – was imperial Japan’s model colony. Progressive Formosa was written to showcase the success of Taiwan under Japanese rule, with close attention paid to the markers of industrialization and “modernity”.
Progressive Formosa includes a political overview of Taiwan in the years leading up to Japanese control, discusses the impact of the colonial government on health and education, and delves into the agricultural and industrial development of the island. The first thirty years of Japanese rule saw monumental changes in Taiwan, including significant reductions in rates of opium addiction and deaths from malaria. For the first time in Taiwan’s history girls were formally educated en masse, and footbinding was outlawed. However, the book also reveals paternalistic and racist attitudes toward the inhabitants of Taiwan, particularly the Indigenous peoples.
Written by an official in the Foreign Section of the government, Progressive Formosa will be of interest to readers looking to understand the Japanese era in Taiwan as well as wider issues of colonialism and modernity.