Taiwan Field Work 2019 - organized jointly by Kyushu University and Tokyo University.

This year’s field trip to Taiwan (from March 10-17) was organized jointly by Tokyo and Kyushu Universities, with Dr. AKO Tomoko of Tokyo University providing crucial assistance with many of the arrangements. The Kyudai and Todai groups got along very well together, and benefitted from the chance to learn from each other as well as from the opportunities to meet and interact with many different Taiwanese groups.

 We at Kyushu University were very grateful on this occasion to receive financial assistance from the 九州台日文化交流会, which enabled us to take more students from across the university on the field trip this year. We are also very grateful for financial assistance provided by the 228 Peace Foundation to all Kyudai and Todai participants, and to Dr. Ako of Tokyo University for her key role in helping to secure this funding.

 Due to our collaboration with the 228 Foundation, our trip began on March 10 (Sunday) with a visit to the National 228 Museum in central Taipei. This was followed by a two-day trip to Green Island and Taidong (March 11-13), where students visited the former jail for political prisoners that is now part of the National Human Rights Museum.

Visiting the National Human Rights Museum on Green Island

Visiting the National Human Rights Museum on Green Island

In Taidong, we visited a village of the Paiwan tribe, and the students met two tribal elders – including Sukinu, who has become famous in Taiwan and internationally for his writings on aboriginal culture – as well as the local schoolteacher. The students then slept overnight in the traditional wood-built village halls – the girls and boys each in a separate hall.

The students with Sakinu, a famous Paiwan writer - and hunter.

The students with Sakinu, a famous Paiwan writer - and hunter.

Throughout our visits to Green Island and the Paiwan village, we were extremely fortunate to have with us Ms. Chen Airi, a first-year student at Kyushu University who is herself Taiwanese. Ms. Chen was able to translate fluently from Chinese to Japanese and vice-versa.

Chen Airi interpreting for the Head of the Village Council.

Chen Airi interpreting for the Head of the Village Council.

On returning to Taipei, we first visited the Zheng Nan-rong (Nylon Cheng) Memorial, which commemorates a pro-democracy activist who immolated himself in 1989. We then visited another branch of the National Human Rights Museum (at the former prison for political inmates in Jingmei), and enjoyed a dinner with representatives of the 228 Peace Foundation, including Mr. Tsai, a former political prisoner who guided the group around the museum.

Mr. Tsai guides students around the Jingmei Human Rights Museum

Mr. Tsai guides students around the Jingmei Human Rights Museum

On March 14-15, we visited various different sites and organisations in Taipei. This Taipei tour began early on the 14th with a lecture on Museums, heritage and the politics of identity in contemporary Taiwan, delivered by Prof. Vickers at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) – which aimed to provide some background and context to help the students understand and interpret some of the historical sites we were due to visit.

 Our itinerary on March 14 began with a visit to the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, where Dr. Ketty Chen and her colleagues introduced the activities of the TFD to students and engaged in a discussion with them about the meaning of democracy and differences between the democratic cultures of Taiwan and Japan.

Todai and Kyudai students visiting the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy

Todai and Kyudai students visiting the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy

This was followed by a visit to the New Frontier Foundation, a think-tank affiliated with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, where we discussed aspects of the government’s social policy relating especially to the elderly and women. Once again, the focus was on Taiwan-Japan comparisons.

 In the afternoon, the group visited the Ama Museum, dedicated to the experiences of Taiwan’s wartime ‘comfort women’, where they heard a lecture from a curator about the activities of the museum and the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, which runs it. The students then toured the museum, including its current special exhibition on Anne Frank.

Students visiting the Ama Museum in Taipei

Students visiting the Ama Museum in Taipei

The tour continued with a guided walk around the streets of the Gongguan District, led by Ms. SUMIKI Hikari, a Japanese resident of Taipei and expert on the architectural history of the city’s colonial period. This brought the students back to NTNU, where they listened to a talk from Mr. Makinoda, the Taiwan correspondent of the Yomiuri Shimbun. This focused mainly on Taiwan’s international relations, and the state of the relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Mr. Makinoda then took questions from students, before joining them for dinner.

With Ms. Sumiki Hikari in a park in an old district of central Taipei – Japanese era houses visible in the background.

With Ms. Sumiki Hikari in a park in an old district of central Taipei – Japanese era houses visible in the background.

On Friday, March 15, the day began with a visit to the Green Citizens Action Alliance, an environmentalist group especially dedicated to campaigning against nuclear power. Here, students learnt about the impact of Japan’s Fukushima disaster on public attitudes towards nuclear power in Taiwan. This was followed by a visit to the Chinese Christian Relief Association, a charity that engages in various activities aimed at relieving poverty – from running ‘food banks’ to providing after-school tuition and support for underprivileged children and their families. This culminated in a discussion that touched on the problems inherent in a reliance on charity to provide this kind of welfare.

 In the afternoon, the group split up – with Prof. Vickers leading one group on a visit to the National Taiwan Museum (Taiwan’s oldest museum, dating to the colonial period), while Dr. Ako led another group to the Lung Ying-tai Foundation (a think-tank that describes its mission as raising ‘global awareness’ amongst young people). We then reconvened at the Prospect Foundation, a government-affiliated think-tank devoted to foreign affairs, where we heard a lecture from the foundation’s president, Lai I-Chung, on the legal and political aspects of Taiwan’s international status, and a lecture from Dr. Liu Hsia-Ju on the Taiwanese-Japanese novelist Kyu Ei-kan (邱永漢).

At the Prospect Foundation with President I-Chung Lai, and Dr. Hsia-Ju Liu.

At the Prospect Foundation with President I-Chung Lai, and Dr. Hsia-Ju Liu.

In the evening, the Kyushu University students attended a dinner with staff and students from NTNU’s Dept of Taiwan Culture and College of Education, where they were joined by another group of Kyudai students who were studying Chinese at NTNU’s Mandarin training centre. The Kyudai students were given materials introducing NTNU, and encouraged to consider returning there on longer exchanges.

Dr. Maehara and Prof. Vickers with Prof. Nikky Lin, Prof. Ann Heylen and Dr. Lin Tzu-bin of NTNU.

Dr. Maehara and Prof. Vickers with Prof. Nikky Lin, Prof. Ann Heylen and Dr. Lin Tzu-bin of NTNU.

On the final full day of the trip (Saturday, March 16), Kyudai and Todai students spent the morning preparing for a colloquium at National Taiwan University (NTU) – involving presentations about what they had learnt during their time in Taiwan, followed by discussions with Japanese-speaking Taiwanese students from NTU and Tamkang University. The students gave some impressively thoughtful presentations, on topics ranging from gender and civic activism to foreign affairs, identity politics, and the situation of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples (the ‘aboriginal tribes’).

Students discussing at the NTU Colloquium.

Students discussing at the NTU Colloquium.

The tour ended on Saturday evening with a dinner for all colloquium participants at the former canteen of the Legislative Yuan (立法院), kindly arranged for us by Prof. Chang Yu-Hsin of Taipei Normal University.

Group photo following our final dinner in Taipei.

Group photo following our final dinner in Taipei.

International Symposium: 'Multiculturalism with Asian Characteristics?', January 26-27, 2019

On January 26-27, the Kyushu University Taiwan Program hosted an international symposium on the theme ‘Multiculturalism with Asian Characteristics? Interpreting multiculturalism in education and public / popular culture across Asia’. The event was funded by Kyushu University’s Progress 100 scheme.

The symposium featured presentations by scholars from National Taiwan Normal University, La Trobe University, the Education University of Hong Kong, and University College London, as well as by Kyushu University faculty and postgraduate students.

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Annual Symposium: Taiwan Today (台湾事情), December 15-16, 2018

On December 15-16, 2018, the Kyushu University Taiwan Program hosted Katakura Yoshifumi, Katakura Mari, and Dr. John Chuan-Tiong Lim for the second annual 台湾事情 symposium.

Mr. and Mrs. Katakura delivered lectures during the first day on the theme of ‘Taiwan’s history and diversity’. On the second day, Dr. Lim (of Academia Sinica) discussed identity issues in Okinawa, Taiwan and Hong Kong in comparative perspective.

Over 100 people attended the symposium over the two days, including both Kyushu University students and members of the public. The symposium was generously supported by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (branch) in Fukuoka.

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Kyushu Taiwan Program Taught Programs (Autumn-Winter Semester, 2018-19)

In the Autumn-Winter Semester of 2018-19, the Kyushu University Taiwan Studies Program is offering three credit-bearing interdisciplinary courses on Taiwan, aimed primarily at undergraduate students. (These courses are in addition to the class on ‘East Asian Images of Japan: the case of Taiwan in Comparative Perspective, taught by Prof. Vickers in this semester.)

The three courses are:

The annual two-day ‘Taiwan Today’ (台湾事情) Symposium (December 15-16)

An intensive course on ‘Contemporary Taiwan Through Film’, taught by Prof. Tomita Akira of Tamkang University (February 11-15)

The annual Taiwan Field Work for Kyushu University students (March 10-17)

The poster below provides details of these courses in Japanese.

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World Congress of Taiwan Studies and Taipei visit, September 2018

Dr. Maehara and Prof. Vickers attended the World Congress of Taiwan Studies at Academia Sinica in Taipei (September 6-8, 2018), where Dr. Maehara also presented her recent work on the politics of ‘comfort women’ commemoration in East Asia. On September 10, Prof. Vickers was interviewed about his work on Taiwan, Hong Kong and China by Dr. Yin C. Chuang on the Formosa TV show 台製日常 (click on the title to go to the recording of the show on Youtube).

Edward Vickers being interviewed by Change Chia-yin on Formosa TV, September 10, 2018

Edward Vickers being interviewed by Change Chia-yin on Formosa TV, September 10, 2018

Intensive course by Dr. Yin C. Chuang (莊佳穎) of National Taiwan Normal University

From September 3-5, 2018, Dr. Yin C. Chuang of NTNU visited Kyushu University to deliver a well-attended intensive course on ‘“Cuteness” and the reception of Japanese popular culture in Taiwan’. This was perhaps the last class ever to be delivered on Kyushu University’s old Hakozaki Campus - before all social science and humanities faculties moved to our new Ito Campus in September 2018.

Dr. Chuang with Prof. Vickers, Dr. Maehara and some of the students attending her class, September 2018.

Dr. Chuang with Prof. Vickers, Dr. Maehara and some of the students attending her class, September 2018.

Study tour to the Zheng Cheng-gong (鄭成功) festival, Hirado (Nagasaki Prefecture)

In July, 2018, Dr. Maehara and Prof. Vickers organised a study tour for students to the ‘Zheng Chenggong Festival’ (鄭成功祭り) in Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture. This festival is held annually at Hirado, the birthplace of Zheng Chenggong, and his mother’s hometown. Attending this event provided the students with interesting insights into the different interpretations (and political uses) of Zheng Chenggong’s legacy in contemporary Taiwan and East Asia.

Young drummers performing at the Zheng Cheng-gong festival in Hirado, July 14, 2018.

Young drummers performing at the Zheng Cheng-gong festival in Hirado, July 14, 2018.

The Inaugural Kyushu University Taiwan Studies Field Trip, March 11-18, 2018

From March 11-18, 2018, Prof. Vickers, Dr. Maehara and six Kyudai students (five undergraduates and one postgraduate) travelled to Taiwan for the first field trip organized under the auspices of our new program. The group was kindly hosted by three of our Taiwanese partner universities (Chinan University in Nantou County, and NTNU and NTU in Taipei), where we interacted with local students and scholars and explored prospects for future collaboration and exchange.

Kyudai and NTNU students pay their respects to the Sage, NTNU (Taipei) (Photo: Mervin Low)

Kyudai and NTNU students pay their respects to the Sage, NTNU (Taipei) (Photo: Mervin Low)

We began the trip with two days in the southern city of Tainan, visiting the National Museum of Taiwan History and local historical sites, before traveling to Taipei to team up with another group of visiting students from Tokyo University, led by Prof. Ako Tomoko.

Son of Kyushu and Taiwanese (or Chinese?) hero: Zheng Cheng-gong (born in Hirado, Kyushu) with his Japanese mother, Tainan, southern Taiwan (Photo: Edward Vickers)

Son of Kyushu and Taiwanese (or Chinese?) hero: Zheng Cheng-gong (born in Hirado, Kyushu) with his Japanese mother, Tainan, southern Taiwan (Photo: Edward Vickers)

The Kyudai and Todai groups together visited the Human Rights Museum in Jingmei (housed in the prison used for incarcerating political prisoners during Taiwan's Martial Law period), where they were guided by Tsai Kunlin, himself a former prisoner. They then heard eyewitness accounts from other former prisoners, who talked about the notorious `228 Massacre' of 1947 and the subsequent `White Terror`.

Mr Tsai Kunlin guides the students around the Jingmei Human Rights Museum

Mr Tsai Kunlin guides the students around the Jingmei Human Rights Museum

The Kyudai group also visited the National Taiwan Museum (originally established during the Japanese colonial period) and the National Palace Museum, giving us the opportunity to reflect on how different Taiwanese cultural institutions embody and promote rather different visions of the island`s identity. Another fascinating insight into Taiwanese history and culture was provided by Sumiki Hikari, who guided the Kyudai and Todai groups around the backstreets of Taipei's Guting district, drawing on the material in her recent book,『在台灣尋找Y字路/台湾、Y字路さがし』(2017年、玉山社).

The Todai and Kyudai groups were graciously hosted by officers at the headquarters of the Democratic Progressive Party, and at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, where we had the opportunity to learn about and discuss Taiwanese democracy (and the role of democracy promotion in ROC diplomacy) and the current political agenda on the island. We also had a discussion with the Taipei Bureau Chief of the Yomiuri Shimbun, Makinoda Toru, who talked about his extensive experience reporting from both Taiwan and mainland China.

The Todai and Kyudai groups with Dr. Ketty Chen at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy

The Todai and Kyudai groups with Dr. Ketty Chen at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy

The visit concluded with a symposium at National Taiwan University at which students from Todai, Kyudai, NTU and Tamkang University discussed `differences between Japan and Taiwan`. It emerged that one of the more striking differences between the Japanese and Taiwanese students related to their level political awareness and engagement - giving all concerned much cause for reflection.

The students found this trip an immensely rewarding experience, and it provides an excellent basis for planning field trips for future years, when we will be taking larger groups to Taiwan.

Students from Tokyo and Kyushu Universities with their counterparts from National Taiwan and Tamkang Universities at NTU in Taipei, March 17 (Prof.s Ako, Tomita and Vickers and Dr. Maehara in attendance). (Photo: Mervin Low)

Students from Tokyo and Kyushu Universities with their counterparts from National Taiwan and Tamkang Universities at NTU in Taipei, March 17 (Prof.s Ako, Tomita and Vickers and Dr. Maehara in attendance). (Photo: Mervin Low)

Intensive course on Contemporary Taiwanese Society and Politics by Naoya Yamazaki (山崎 直也)

From February 26 to March 2, 2018, Professor Naoya Yamazaki (山崎 直也) of Teikyo University (帝京大学) visited Kyushu University to deliver an intensive course on Contemporary Taiwanese Society and Politics to our students. Prof. Yamazaki discussed a range of significant and contentious aspects of Taiwan's current predicament - setting this in historical context, and paying particular attention to ongoing debates over culture and identity, and their political ramifications.