Seoul / Regional difference of Japanese colonialism – Kominka Movement

Both Korea and Taiwan were the closest and largest colonies of Japan in the 19th century. However there were some significant differences in these two colonial places. The colonial policy varied from their geographical and cultural circumstances. These can be seen in Kominka Movement, the campaign launched in both place.

kominka movement
kominka movement (皇民化運動)


With the expansion of Japanese imperialism, the burden and cost of the warfare were increasing. Therefore Kominka Movement was purposed in order to shift the burden and obligations of the Japanese to the people from the colonial places.

“Altogether, Japanese colonizers advanced remarkably similar rationales in each of Japan’s two biggest colonies. The early emphasis on association and a gradual merger of each colonial populace into the empire was replaced due to the vicissitudes of the changing international situation and Japan’s place within it. Such changes disrupted the slow process of colonial maturation to the ideal of the metropole. The change was exemplified by the urgency inherent in the aims for quick cultural parity between Japan and the colonies and an increased need for colonial assistance in war, found in kominka pronouncements nearing the end of the Empire.

 Specific changes in Japanese governance occurred in each colony, both as a result of each locale’s pre-colonial history – which predisposed each colony for either relative docility or obstinacy toward Japanese rule – and the colonial authorities’ reaction to it. Though certain policies carried out were virtually identical in intent, and even in name, their application was substantially different due to the colonial peoples’ cultural and historical make-up, Japanese responses, and different concerns regarding each colony among political leaders in the home islands.”

By Gunnar Abramson

The Kominka movement led to different influences in tow places. Of course, people from two places reacted customarily differently, including historical cultural cohesion and the memory of an equally cohesive indigenous precolonial political order.

In the national language movement, Korean was supplanted into Japanese in a more compulsory manner than that in Taiwan. As the Japanese authority had expected this kind of method which lowered the social and national status of Korean would be strongly resisted by Korean than people in Taiwan due to the cultural and political background. Consequently a more gentle, persuasive policy was leading to certain failure and only sufficient force could guarantee compliance.


Reference reading:

Gunnar Abramson (2005), Comparative Colonialsims: Variations in Japanese Colonial Policy in Taiwan and Korea, 1895 ‐ 1945, Portland State University Press

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.