Examining the plight of the Taiwanese, who were pawns in the larger conflict of World War Two, helps us to understand the complicated process of the breakdown of the Japanese empire. The postwar legal adjudication of BC class Japanese war crimes in East Asia is a key element in unwinding the historical complexity of postwar power shifts, the formation of a Taiwanese identity, and its connection to Japan’s postwar foreign relations goals. This paper considers three inter-related issues – analyzing how Japanese rule was restructured in the postwar former colonies, dissecting the prosecution of lower-level Japanese war crimes, and resolving the conundrum of collaboration within the former empire. These problems are tied intimately together due to the transformation of postwar identity and colonial politics.
This article will also appear in a Routledge published volume of the same special issue, entitled "Statecraft and Spectacle in East Asia Studies in Taiwan-Japan Relations," in Adam Clulow, ed., Statecraft and Spectacle in East Asia (Studies in Taiwan-Japan Relations), London: Routledge, 2010, p. 108 -130.
Statecraft and Spectacle in East Asia is a multidisciplinary collection of essays that explores the intertwined histories of Taiwan and Japan across the long sweep of the early modern and modern periods. Drawing on new research by scholars from Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, it moves beyond the conventional focus on the mechanics of the Japanese colonial state to provide new perspectives on a highly significant relationship that shaped the nature of the modern East Asian political landscape. Ranging from the seventeenth century to the chaotic aftermath of empire, the papers collected here consider Tokugawa Japan’s halting engagement with Taiwan as a key world historical moment that illuminates changing attitudes towards maritime expansion; the ways in which the colonial project was packaged and sold in print as well as image; and the complex legal discourses surrounding the making and unmaking of empire. Together they show how influence flowed both ways between Taiwan and Japan and the importance of inter-Asian interactions.