Planning of land and security system based on the “Biological principles”

Before Gotō Shimpei was appointed as the civil administrator, social instability and incomplete land ownership records were major problems faced by the government. Following the investigation of Provisional Bureau for Land Registration for systematic land surveying, and the Provisional Commission for the Investigation of Taiwanese Old Customs, Major land and security reforms were proposed.

Regarding the Social instability, Shimpei planned the security system based on the village scale and old systems that he learned from the “biological studies”. Before that, under the Jampanese colonial government rules, police forces are responsible for the village and city duty, while the military forces are protecting the city against the rebellion forces in the hills. The separated authorities were proved to be ineffective and cannot deal with either the city and village duty and the rebellion forces outside. To tackle the problems, Shimpei established a police office in every district during his planning of the outer city grid and the infrastructure, while combining the police forces with the local villages. From the report of the old custom studies, he adopted the “Bao-jia”(Ho-ko) system, in which one jia included ten housholds, and one Bao was made up of ten jia, these village systems were held accountable to their own security and were in collaboration with the police forces established (Chang and Ramon, 1967). Thanks to the village and human scale of these security forces derived from the extensive old custom research, these police forces can carry out more duties apart from law reinforcement and public protection. Many other policies, including sanitation, education, engineering and agricultural were helped carry out by these local authorities. The adoption of Bao-jia system provides a bridge for effective feedback loop between the government officials and the public.

Meanwhile, the extensive land survey revealed major problems. There were incomplete land records regarding the land ownership and registration. From the Ching management, the government received land tax from major landlords, who lease their land to another group of people who is called the Hsiao-tsu (Chang and Ramon, 1967). The land is then leased to smaller tenants and farmers. These levels of system deprived farmers from making profit, and government from collecting tax, thus reducing economic output of agricultural industries. To reform the land tax system, after the extensive land survey in 1901, Shimpei decided to first estimate the land value based on its actual productivity, and then to reclaim the land ownership from major landlords with the exchange for marketable bond. The real ownership was transferred to the Hsiao-tsu, making the rent payment much lower than the original tax burden. With the fixed tax rate, the farmers had more incentive to improve their productivity without the fear of soaring tax rate. As a result, all the land after the reform was taxed, which greatly improved the government revenue, while the tax system became lighter which favored the development of the local farming industries.

To sum up, the land and security reforms were all linked extensively from the scientific research. All the institutions were multi-functional, especially the “Bao-jia” system, which makes the running of the government efficient and effective, avoiding overlapping of power. These ideologies were rooted deeply in the planning of infrastructure of the city as well. In fact, the planning of Taihoku by Shimpei incorporated the sanitation, security, land ownership and economy with respect to the people lifestyles, making the city extremely efficient and favourable. This reminds us the importance of regarding urban planning as a framework containing social, security, economical and every aspect of life, but not just about infrastructure and construction.

Shiyung Liu, 2006. Building a strong and healthy empire: the critical period of building colonial medicine in Taiwan.

Jan van Bremen,Akitoshi Shimizu, 1999. Anthropology and Colonialism in Asia: Comparative and Historical Colonialism. Published by Routlege Curzon.

Joseph R. Allen, 2012. Taipei: City of Displacements. Published by the University of Washington Press.

Chang Han-Yu and Ramon H. Myers, 1963. Japanese Colonial Development Policy in Taiwan, 1895-1906: A Case of Bureaucratic Entrepreneurship. The Journal of Asian Studies. Published by Association of Asian Studies.

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