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)