Problems of Law in Taiwan during the
Japanese Rule(1895-1945)
by Toichi ASHIDA
 When thinking of the law and the systems of Taiwan during the Japanese rule(1895-1945), it is a
rudimentary mistake to understannd it to be a part of modern Japanese law.
 This mistake is caused by a lack of basic understanding that that Law is one of the norms of 
human relations and power relations specific to the society. It is established on the basis of
various conditions. Without this point of view, it is impossible to search laws and systems of the
real society.
 Nevertheless, a lot of people claim this wrong understanding without hesitation. It is because
it is backed by popular political recognition.This understanding was trapped in a popular concept
without looking at the actual situation and legal basis of the real world.
 Since the concept is based on a popular sense, they rarely suffer criticism and so it is
widespread. This misconception that ignores the activities of real people, is a major problem. This
comes to incapability of understanding the activities of people who faced really serious problems.  
 We cannot call 'a research' the wrong recognition based on the vulgar political ideas. Since
Taiwan(1895-1945) was part of Japan territory or Japanese colony, laws enacted in Taiwan were
part of Japan Law. Such a simple logic, as I said above, is not acceptable. They have to notice
that this simple thinking insults people and society of Tawan. A base of the misunderstanding is
"mainland extension principle内地延長主義" that must be recognized as a rustic ideology of
invaders in the Taisho era(大正時代).
 Sometimes strict rules and regulations were actually enforced. It is to be understood that it was
established in dominance in the society. No one saiys that law itself, namely an idea, was
introduced from outside. However, naive idealism is still rampant.Then, it leads us to a place where
we cannot analyze all the laws in context of the time, under what conditions the law was
established, and what problem it has. If you consider the law or the systems of Korea and Taiwan
to be part of Japanese laws or Japanese systems, the analysis is not possible at all. Somehow,
people who say so are indifferent to it. This may be the reason why they are sometimes called
 Without knowing anything about real problems of the society, we must not depend on the idea of
popular political history irresponsibly. However, I must reflect that such false recognition is
rampant, as a result of my research delay.

 Such misconception may have been caused by the situation of Taiwan in 1895-1945. Taiwan was
transferred from Qing清to Japan in1895, and ruled by the Taiwan Governor's Office 台湾總督府
staffed mostly by Japanese bureaucrats. In addition, the laws in force in Taiwan were written in
Japanese. Consequuantly, a lot of people believe that they are part of Japanese law. It seems
they're thinking rather, they should say that the law of Taiwan (also law of Korea)was the law of
 It is as if there were the laws of the Greater East Empire. There was the annoying absurd illusion
namely the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere world 大東亜共栄圏. It was a disaster
outrageous for the people of East Asia.
 As mentioned earlier, this mistake of the recognition is made by people who do not know the laws,
people who do not understand what the laws are. As already mentioned, it is a simple and basic
mistake. It is rustic essentially therefore, is also a mistake quite stubborn and cumbersome.
 Naturally, if only there is basic recognition that law is an expression of power relations concrete,
and also an expression of human relations, immediately, it should be able to escape from the
illusion. In fact, in order to deepen the recognition, analysis of human relations and theorizing over
the typical power relations have been made through the history.
 From the nature of things, the law cannot exist alone. It is only a manifestation of one of society.
The laws of Taiwan under the rule of Japan, were Laws of Taiwan society of the time, nothing else,
for example, there was no such thing as law of Japan.
 Sometimes people use the term “colonial law.” What that expression means is only laws of the
land(Taiwan) or the society dominated by Japan. Problems caused by the words would be
conparatively less serious. However, speaking of colonial law, it could be seen from the colonial
suzerain, and considerd to be the laws of the subordinate land. To be specific, it could be engraved
as the Taiwan region version of the Japanese law. In fact, they described the laws in Korea and
Taiwan, often rather than the actual situation, as manifestations representing imperialist ideology
of Japanese Empire*.Such an idea, because of assumption of a vacuous Greater East Asia
Co-Prosperity Sphere world ideology, would be able to overlook the reality itself of the imperialist
invasion of pre-war Japan.
 From the Greater East Asia Empire View of the World, there is no sense in the first place in
doing research itself. At the same time, reality of domination and aggression could also be lost sight
 Only by approaching the reality of society specifically, issues of society and age, the footsteps of
people that we must recognize, can be found.

"Legal Structure of the Colonial Empire Japan" edited by Toyomi Asano,Toshihiko Matsuda (Shin-Zan-Sha, March 2004),  
   "Legal Development of the Colonial Empire Japan" edited by Toyomi Asano and Toshihiko Matuda(Shin-Zan-Sha,June 2004).
 The titles themselves are strange enough.
 We do not consider Taiwan and Korea to be only part of state named "Empire of Japan" or"Empire." With "Empire", we
 associate the imperialism historical. We think empire and colony are inseparable. So, I think people who use the word “colonial
 empire”, do not understand the imperialism. Because they have no awareness of the imprialism, on the contrary, they cannnot
 understand nothing of the actual situation in Korea and Taiwan. They have now covered it with a net of rough ideology only.
  They incorporate the specific state of the land as one part of "Legal Structure of the Colonial Empire Japan" and "Legal
  For example, in "Legal Structure of the Colonial Empire Japan", is there 'Customary law and colonial issues surrounding the
 girl deal of Taiwan society' written by Hong Yu Ju 洪郁如. Hong presented "養女・媳婦仔・査()某(媒)嫺,”and discussed  
 human trafficking and the issue of prostitution. Hong argues about the correspondence of the Qing government and also about
 the correspondence also Taiwan governor Office 臺湾總督府. Whether or not bring this together as part of the law structure of
 imperial Japan, it is necessary to discuss as a problem in Taiwan of Japan governance era. However, it is not only a problem of
 the legal structure of imperial Japan but, it is also a problem that the Qing government was also struggling.
  This is an example that shows a thing called Greater East Asia Empire Law understanding is strange.

 Before the Japanese army landing, many people imigrated to Taiwan from other regions, and it
had also experienced occupation by other countries. The Japanese troops landed Taiwan ceded
to Japan from the Qing based on Shimonoseki Peace Treaty. Taiwan was the territory of the Qing
until then, although in some areas Chinese language was not much used. 
 After Japanese troops landing, ‘the Temporary Taiwan Social Customs Research Council(臨時台
湾旧慣調査会)’ was organized. Two representative reports, "The Administrative Law of Qing清国
行政法 (all six volumes)" by Yorozu ODA 織田萬(chief), ​​Naoki KANO狩野直喜, Shigeru KATO加藤
繁,and "Taiwan Private Law台湾私法" by Santaro OKAMATSU岡松参太郎are well known. These
were kept as a source of law after the Court of Taiwan thought they were useful. That is why
these works represent considerably the legal reality of Taiwan at the time now. Recently I have
seen many of the studies on the East Asian region. I have the impression that those recent studies
are, with some exceptions, more recessive than the research in the Meiji era, both in attitude and
in accuracy. It seems to be caused by the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere ideology.

 * However, in the case of "Taiwan Private Law," by definition there are some legal reconstruction. It is a point that we should
  be aware of.

 August 1992, I took part in Taiwan Governor's Office Document Investigating Comission台湾總督
府文書調査団(headed by Professor Yukio HIYAMA檜山幸夫) for the first time. It was planned
in Institute of Social Science, Chukyo University 中京大学社会科学研究所(director Professor
Kotaku ISHIDO 石堂功卓 at the time). Professor Toshizo UENO上野利三(Matsuzaka University at
the time)and Lecturer Shiro UENO上野史朗(Nagoya College of Business at the time) introduced
me to the Comission. We are members of Japan Legal History Association.
 Subject of the research study was documents of the Governor's Office of Taiwan most of which
were made by the Japanese bureaucracy, at Taiwan Province Literature Commission (current
Presidential Office Literature Hall). I was puzzled when I saw a part of the books. Because it was
titled "Criminal Registration 刑事登記." I have never seen thouse words in criminal proceedings of
Japan. It was a document that would never appear in the government of Japan, and I felt
uncomfortable with the type of offense,named "Brigand 匪徒". It was a crime stated by the
special law of Taiwan "Punishment Brigando Ordinance匪徒刑罰令". As I saw the execution record
goes on and on, I felt as if my feet were floating. Still, this is a thing that has been left as a record
of the Taiwan Governor-General.
 There was a crime of collecting ruffians 兇徒聚衆の罪 in the Japanese Criminal Law at the time.
This was later revised to the riot crime. Not a special law. In Taiwan, the riot crime both in the
Criminal Code and in "Punishment Brigando Ordinance匪徒刑罰令" co-existed. In addition, as
Lawyer Xie Bi Ren 謝碧連律師pointed out, special procedural law related to "Punishment Brigando
Ordinance匪徒刑罰令" was promulgated and enforced.
 By having these special statutes acts were present, Taiwan criminal law system was different
system from the criminal law system of Japan at the time. Profesor Hiyama showed me a
document titled "About Instruction Préparatoire of Crime of the Taiwanese and Chinese 「本島人
及清国人の犯罪予審に関する件」"at the Taiwan Province Literature Committee台湾省文献委員
会(at the time).
 It was a draft and enacted as The Ordinance No.9 in 1899(32.Meiji). The draft was bound up into
the book no.362(document no.6). When I saw it for the first time, I considered that I must tackle it
as "Taiwan" law finally.
 In Taiwan(1895-1945), though written in Japanese, its criminal law system was completely
different from that of Japan. However, as a matter of course, I noticed, things such as family
relationships specially, were not to be easily changed, even if Taiwan was ruled by Japan. Further,
in the field of property law, the presence of "Property of Rituals Public Sector祭祀公業" is big.
Moreover, in the Governor-General Court, it was one of the things about which many lawsuits
were filed.
 Although its publication was delayed somewhat, "Taiwan criminal law in the first half of the
Japanese occupation period" ("Law Journal " 74, it was in 2003-10) was the work that had
organized the study of Taiwan law history even though as gropingly, to some extent.
 After that, I was able to receive support and teaching from many people.such as Ms.Yang Xiao
Wen 楊孝文, Judge Xie Rui Long謝瑞龍法官, Lawyer Xie Bi Ren 謝碧連律師. For use in it, with a
delaymy research has not proceeded much, but I want to post the material and current situation
for the promotion of my reserch in the future.. (2012.12.30)

                               蘆 田 東 一



* 浅野豊美・松田利彦編『植民地帝国日本の法的構造』(信山社、2004年3月)、同編『植民地帝国日本の法的展開』
  例えば、その『植民地帝国日本の法的構造』には、洪郁如「植民地の法と慣習 -台湾社会の女児取引をめぐる諸問題」
 として論じる必要はある。 しかし、帝国日本の法的構造に、それが成るのか、清朝政府も苦慮した問題なのである。


* しかし、『台湾私法』の場合、当然と言えば当然であるが、一部法的再構成があることは否めない。注意すべき

したのが、刊行がやや遅れた「日本統治時代前期の台湾刑事法」(『法学ジャーナル』74, 2003-10)

  ○日本統治時代前期の台湾刑事法 (『法学ジャーナル』 74, 1-54, 2003-10 )     
        Taiwan-criminal-law-1895-1922.pdf へのリンク




        precedents-about-family-property.pdf へのリンク

        precedents-about-family-law.pdf へのリンク

  ◎ 謝碧連律師にお聞きした台湾現代史と法
        lawyer-xie-interview.pdf へのリンク