||During the Japanese colonisation period, the Taiwanese could never be accepted as one of the Japanese, while the confrontation between the Republic of China and Japan made it difficult for the Chinese to fully accept the Taiwanese as their compatriots. Such loss of identification placed the Taiwanese in a status called the “orphan of Asia.” Before 1895, Taiwan was a semi-feudal society under a Manchurian autocratic monarchy, Taiwanese people did not develop a modern concept of a nation-state. It was Japanese colonial administration which brought the modern concepts of nation and state to Taiwan, and which formulated a collective identity for Taiwanese people. Such Taiwanese identity was constructed as the colonised object and the supporting complement of the Japanese Empire. It was a part of the Japanese de-colonising efforts since the Meiji Restoration, as to win over an overseas colony was considered as a modernisation project to become a modern empire like other Western powers.
The 1910 Japan-British Exhibition in London was the stage on which Japan first declared to the West its modern status and imperial identity. In this exhibition, the Japanese authority systematically adopted western modern knowledge to re-organise and illustrate its history and identity. By doing this, Japan demonstrated its modernisation achievement and transformed the previous Orientalist discrimination of seeing Japanese traditions as the symbol of backwardness into rich cultural and historical heritages of a modern empire. Accurate surveys and statistics were the key modern knowledge that Japan used to present its ability to control and administrate a modern nation. In this context, Taiwan was represented as the colonised object which contained rich resources for colonial development. The subjectivities of the Taiwanese people and society were absent. The Taiwanese people were instead represented as wild aboriginal barbarians who needed to be cultivated by the modernised Japanese.
In this context, the Japanese colonial authority applied similar modern administrative techniques in ruling and developing Taiwan. By applying comprehensive geographical survey and population census, the Japanese colonial authority knew almost every individual and every inch of land on Taiwan. By installing a policing system, the Japanese colonial authority applied its power onto every Taiwanese individual and supervised popular activities of regional communities. The establishment of policing system, farmland and agricultural reforms, founding of regional agricultural associations, commodity competitions and exhibitions allowed the colonial power to penetrate traditional Taiwanese regional communities and to restructure local power systems. Furthermore, in order to promote Japanese patriotism and to transform Taiwanese people into Japanese citizens, the authority took a religious approach in promoting Japanese State Shinto to Taiwanese society. Through practicing religious ceremonies, the authority advocated Japanese nationalism and encouraged Taiwanese people to develop a national consciousness and identification with the Japanese Empire.
Although in the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition, the Japanese authority had intentionally promoted traditional Japanese architecture as its own cultural heritage and identity, as to establish a modern image of Japan, the colonial authority turned to European architectural historicism as the symbol of modernity. Several European historical style official buildings were built in Taipei in representing the modern identity of the colonial authority. In 1935, an exhibition was held in commemorating the 40 years of Japanese administration in Taiwan. Many Taiwanese people actively participated in organising events and regional pavilions of the exhibition. In the 1935 Taiwan Exhibition, the colonial authority allowed Taiwanese people to know rather than be known, and to become the subjects rather than the objects of knowledge. It allowed the Taiwanese to see themselves from the side of power, and internalising the colonial perspective as a part of their recognition and identification with Taiwan and the Japanese Empire.