Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Japan's first land survey in Taiwan

From Japanese Mapping of Asia-Pacific Areas, 1873–1945: An Overview, Shigeru Kobayashi, Osaka University, Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review E-Journal No. 2 (March 2012).

(Remarks on cadastral (agricultural land/land use) surveys in Japan's newly-acquired territories....)
....In each of these territories, the new Japanese colonial government saw the importance of establishing its financial base in order to build up the local economy. Each colonial government set up a land registration system, including a cadastral survey, which was indispensable for raising revenue from landed property. This kind of project in the colonies has been considered an extension of the Land Tax Reform in the Japanese mainland (1873–1881). Concerned researchers widely accept that the modern landholding system established by domestic reform was reproduced in the colonies. However, if one scrutinizes the cadastral surveys in Taiwan (1898–1905), Korea (1910–1918), and the Kwantung Leased Territory (1914–1924) along with that in Okinawa Prefecture (1898–1903), several distinctive features can be found (Kobayashi and Narumi 2008). First, these surveys were carried out by special provisional government offices with specialized equipment and instruments, in contrast to the Land Tax Reform, which depended heavily on local administrative offices and inhabitants. Second, as a result of the experience of the Land Tax Reform, the surveys were conducted systematically and efficiently. The provisional government offices investigated thoroughly traditional land systems, which were deemed incompatible with modern landownership, and developed policies to cope with them carefully. Cadastral maps based on modern surveying techniques, including triangulation, were made along with land registers.
Other sources indicate that this cadastral survey -- difficult in the mountains where survey teams were under constant threat from aborigines -- helped bring much land that had been hidden from Qing taxation into the Japanese tax and agricultural regimes. Liu Ming-chuan, the progressive governor late in the Qing period, conducted land tax surveys that also brought much land under Qing taxation, but was nowhere close to a realistic figure. Kerr observed in Licensed Revolution... that the Qing were taxing 867,000 acres, but the Japanese survey more than doubled the amount of land known to 1,866,000 acres. Liao and Wang, in Taiwan Under Japanese Colonial Rule, 1895-1945: History, Culture, Memory, point out that land revenue in 1903 was .92 million yen, but by 1905 it had tripled to over 2.8 million yen.

A presentation of Shigeru's on the net gives an example of the kind of maps the survey produced. The scale for the survey was 1:20,000 and 1,466 sheets were produced, according to Shigeru.

Liao and Wang observe that this was the first survey to map the island scientifically, and its explicit goal was to map each piece of land and assign a number to it. They also observe that the survey, in addition to its obvious purpose of increasing revenue and clarifying ownership and location, made the unknown known, making it more difficult for Taiwanese guerrilla bands to hide in what had previously been unmapped areas.

This kind of post is what happens when you are just randomly surfing the net...
Daily Links:
  • SPECIAL: Greenpeace ship Esperanza to be docked in Keelung 3/31-4/2, press conference Saturday for announcement on results of Pacific Fishing commission discussions on central pacific marine reserves 
  • Isn't it great to have Lien Chan out there? Because we need someone on the KMT side to balance Annette Lu....
  • Pingtan Experimental Zone, created by China to lure Taiwanese money and tech, is "somewhat political" says intelligence chief. No, ya think?
  • Commonwealth on the island's meat oversight by gov't. Great job.
  • Taiwan woman who killed self while chatting on Facebook makes international news.
  • China Reform Monitor:
    China and Russia are on the verge of concluding their biggest arms contract in a decade but it is being held up by Moscow’s insistence on new intellectual property rights protections to limit Chinese competition in third country markets. Beijing has agreed in principle to buy 48 Su-35 multi-role fighters for $4 billion (approximately $85 million each) but is reluctant to stop copying Russian fighter aircraft. Despite an existing Sino-Russian agreement concluded in 2008 on the protection of military and technological intellectual property, Moscow is demanding additional guarantees. Yet, even if Beijing agrees to formalize Russian intellectual ownership of the Su-35, tracking compliance would be impossible, Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reports. China’s share of Russian arms exports has declined steadily since 2007 and the two have not concluded a major contract since 2003.
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Anonymous said...

The Japanese colonial government conducted a program to "map" everything in Taiwan. Survey after survey on their newly acquired colony to, in essence, colonize by numbers. They wanted to know what Taiwan was all about and they believed graphs, charts, numbers and statistics would give them the greatest understanding to best govern.

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