Colonization of Taipei (1895-1905) – Scheme 2. Prioritized interests of Japanese Rulers and extended influence to citizens: Comparison between Taipei and Seoul (Narrative 5)
Both Taipei and Seoul were ceded to Japanese rules for a certain period of time in the 20th century. As the first and second Japanese colonized countries, both territories were heavily impacted by Japanese modern urbanization to a large extent. The colonized rules were almost copied from Taipei to Seoul to establish a new order (Lee 2020, p3). The high degree of similarity between these rules can reveal how the colonizers prioritize their interests from some comparative aspects.
The most prominent feature shared by these two cities is the formation of mixed residential areas. Before the occupation, both cities were in a mode influenced by Chinese traditional cities, surrounded by city walls for defensive purposes. Only one specific race was taking charge of the cities before the Japanese ruling, but as the colonizers moving in, the diversity of races living in both cities was enriched. The populations faced incredible increases after the colonization in 1895 and 1910 respectively. Taipei’s population ascended from 46, 710 in 1896 to 99, 479 in 1905, Japanese proportion soared from 9.1% to 29.6% in mere 10 years. Across the Ocean, the percentage of Japanese in Seoul met a growth from 15.8% in 1911 to 21.6% in 1913. More than half of the Yongsan residents were Japanese (Lee 2020, p7). As Japanese immigrants flooded into the colonial cities, they were not scattered evenly in the city. Instead, they would occupy a more isolated and well-preserved area in order to develop their own district. A similar thing was happening in Seoul as well as the Japanese occupied Yongsan.
Another comparison is drawn to the urban plans implemented in both cities. In Taipei, Taihoku City Municipal Reform Project (台北市区改正计划) issued in 1905 aimed to conduct a new civic center based on Inner-city for colonizers, while the west of Taipei city was saved for local Taiwanese. Seoul was introduced to Keijo Urban Improvement Plan (京城市区改修) which created a network to link Japanese communities to the Korean ones (Lee 2020, p14). The details and regulations in both plans were based on the conditions of both cities which were very individual. However, both projects incorporated orthogonal road networks for both cities as well as brought integrities to the cities. Engineers enhanced the streets by extending the width of the streets and installing sewage systems. To achieve similar goals, the Japanese government shared the same officials between these colonies such as Mochiji Rokusabuto (Lee 2020, p14). These plans provided a better system both in urban fabrics and transportation networks.
As a conclusion, we can gain a vision of Japanese colonial modern cities of Taipei and Seoul, which differs from the traditional western colonial cities. The modernization of both cities was accelerated with the aid of modern urbanization systems, however, on the other hand, the Japanese colonial government catered more to some of their own interests such as district allocation to the ethnic groups and multi-core urban structures. The comparative study had unearthed the value of colonial remnants to prove the prioritized interests of colonizers.
Lee, Yeonkyung. 2020. “Taipei and Seoul’s Modern Urbanization under Japanese Colonial Rule: A Comparative Study from the Present-Day Context.” Sustainability (Basel, Switzerland) 12, no. 11 (2020): 4772.