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A Multi-Perspective Analysis of the Japanese Factor in the Taiwan Issue


Xiu Chunping, a Taiwan scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argues that China-Japan relations will deteriorate in the foreseeable future as a result of Tokyo’s growing interest in regional security, particularly in and around the Taiwan Strait. She argues that Japan is increasingly willing to provide greater and more explicit economic, diplomatic, and military support for Taiwan, and draws on a complex mix of historical, geopolitical, and domestic political factors to explain this perceived shift – including Japan’s colonial legacy in Taiwan, power shifts between Japan and China, and the work of “Taiwan independence forces.”

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The Taiwan issue is a domestic issue with a complex international context. It is precisely because of the complex international context and the disturbance of several external factors that the Taiwan issue, a matter of China’s unification, has been delayed to this day without being completely resolved. Among the external factors affecting the final resolution of the Taiwan issue, the United States is the largest and most important factor, followed by Japan. Compared to the United States’ involvement in China’s civil war based on building a worldwide hegemonic system, and the extension of that involvement to the Taiwan issue, Japan’s influence on the Taiwan issue has been more complex and special. For historical, geopolitical, and practical reasons, the Japanese factor has been present in the Taiwan issue in its own unique form and goes deeply into many political, economic, and social fields in Taiwan. Since 1949, the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue has evolved in terms of the forms it takes, the roles it plays, and the influence it exerts in different temporal and spatial contexts. Since the start of the twenty-first century, with the rapid rise of China and the intensification of Sino-Japanese competition, Japan’s inclination to intervene in the Taiwan issue has increased significantly, and the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue has become increasingly conspicuous. The question of how to comprehensively and accurately understand the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue and its influence on the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and the promotion of the process of peaceful national reunification is a topic worth exploring. This article will take a multifaceted look at the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue from three dimensions—historical, geopolitical, and practical—and analyze how the evolution of various elements refract on the Japanese factor and the synthetic effects produced, in an effort to make a more comprehensive, objective, and realistic analysis of the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue.

台湾问题是一个有着复杂国际背景的内政问题。正是囿于复杂的国际背景和若干外部因素的扰动, 事关中国统一的台湾问题才一直延宕至今未能得到彻底解决。在影响最终解决台湾问题的外部因素中, 美国是最大、最主要的因子,日本则次之。相较于美国基于建构全球霸权体系介入中国内战进而延伸到台湾问题,日本对台湾问题的影响则显得更为复杂和特殊。出于历史、地缘、现实等原因,日本因素以其特有的形式存在于台湾问题之中,并深入到台湾政治、经济、社会等诸多领域。1949 年以来, 台湾问题中的日本因素在不同的时空背景下,其存在形式、扮演的角色以及发挥的影响在不断演变。进入 21 世纪以来,随着中国快速崛起、中日竞争态势加剧,日本介入台湾问题的意向明显上升,台湾问题中的日本因素日益凸显。如何全面、准确认识台湾问题中的日本因素及其对两岸关系和平发展、推进国家和平统一进程的影响,是一个值得探讨的课题。本文将从历史、地缘以及现实三个维度,对台湾问题中的日本因素进行多方位观察,分析各种要素的演化在日本因素上的折射及产生的综合作用, 力求对台湾问题中的日本因素作出一个较全面、客观,更切近现实的分析。

I. Historical Perspective


Looking at the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue from a historical perspective will help us trace its roots and understand, recognize, and explain the various manifestations of the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue today and their underlying reasons. Modern Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule for half a century. Although this history ended more than sixty years ago, Japan’s influence on Taiwanese society has not disappeared, but has been artificially activated and amplified after half a century, and the history of Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan has been affirmed and glorified. At the same time, the “Taiwan complex” of some Japanese people has been gradually “aroused,” and the right-wingers who worry about China’s rapid rise have begun to focus on Taiwan, which was once occupied by Japan. They have glorified the history of Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan, “discovered” and “uncovered” a lost “Japanese spirit” in Taiwan, and worked with the island’s separatist forces to rebuild the historical links between Japan and Taiwan. These phenomena, which emerged after the 1990s, have gradually revealed the previously hidden Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue. The long-standing presence of the Japanese factor in Taiwanese society and its growing visibility after the 1990s have its historical origin, but there is also the distinctive feature of the historically relevant Japanese factor being utilized and manipulated in a specific political atmosphere.

在历史视角下观察台湾问题中的日本因素,将有助于我们追根求源,了解、认识和解释当今台湾 问题中日本因素各种表象及其背后的原因。近代台湾曾经被日本殖民统治长达半个世纪。这段历史虽 然早在 60 多年前就已结束,但日本对台湾社会的影响并未消失,而且在半个世纪之后又被人为地激活、放大,日本殖民统治台湾的历史更是出现了被肯定和美化的现象。与此同时,日本一些人的“台湾情结” 也渐次被“唤起”,那些焦虑于中国快速崛起的右翼人士,开始聚焦于曾被日本占领过的台湾。他们 美化日本对台殖民统治史,在台湾“发现”、“挖掘”失落的“日本精神”,与岛内分裂势力共同重 建日台之间的历史连结。这些出现在 20 世纪 90 年代后的现象,将隐形于台湾问题中的日本因素逐渐显性化出来。日本因素在台湾社会长期存在并在上世纪 90 年代后显性化发展,有其历史渊源,更有在特定政治氛围下,与历史相关的日本因素被利用和操作的显著特点。

The history of Japan’s half-century-long colonial rule in Taiwan is a record of the Japanese invaders’ brutal suppression of the popular resistance movement in Taiwan, of colonial construction for the purpose of plundering, and of the “kominka” (Japanization or imperialization) campaign to strengthen the colonial rule.


Colonial construction. After the Sino-Japanese War [1894-1895], Japan forcibly occupied Taiwan. During its fifty-year-long colonial rule, Japan carried out predatory development and construction in Taiwan. After the occupation of Taiwan, Japan forcibly confiscated land and forests and systematically migrated Japan’s surplus rural population to Taiwan, while using the reparations forcibly taken from the Qing [dynasty] government and the high taxes collected from Taiwan for colonial construction. At the beginning of the occupation, Japan used “12 million yen of China’s 360 million yen in reparations” after the Sino-Japanese war “as Taiwan operating expenses.”1 Besides the war reparations, more of Japan’s costs of operating and building the colony came from extraction and plundering in Taiwan. Taking taxation alone as an example, the amount of tax levied [per capita] by the Japanese colonial authorities in Taiwan was 33% more than in Japan (3 yen, 34 sen, 3 rin in Japan vs. 4 yen, 45 sen, 4 rin in Taiwan).2 Japan used these taxes in Taiwan to build roads and lay railroad lines, construct ports, dams, and irrigation and drainage facilities, and carry out crop variety improvement and fertilization. This construction objectively increased agricultural productivity, and established and improved the island’s transportation system.

殖民地建设。中日甲午战后,日本强行占领台湾。在长达 50 年的殖民统治中,日本对台湾进行了 掠夺式的开发建设。日本占领台湾后,强制没收土地、森林,有组织地将日本剩余农村人口向台湾移民, 同时利用从清政府强取的赔款以及从台湾征收的高额税金,进行殖民地建设。占领初期,日本将中日 战后“中国的 3 亿 6 千万日元赔款中的 1200 万日元,用作‘台湾经营费’”。除战争赔款外,日本在台湾经营建设殖民地的费用,更多的是来自对台湾的榨取和掠夺。仅以税收为例,日本殖民当局在 台湾的征税额,比日本国内要多出 33%(日本国内的税赋为 3 円 34 钱 3 厘,台湾为 4 円 45 钱 4 厘)。日本用这些税收在台湾修筑道路、铺设铁路、修建港口;修建水坝、灌溉、排水设施,进行农作物的 品种改良、施肥。这些建设客观上提高了农业生产力,建立和改善了岛内的交通运输体系。

However, the purpose of all Japanese investment and construction in Taiwan was to consolidate its colonial rule and to carry out colonial plunder. During the Japanese rule period, Japan built several water conservancy facilities in Taiwan, among the more well-known of which is the Chianan Irrigation Waterway, i.e., Wushantou Reservoir, completed in 1930. After the completion of the reservoir, crop production in the Chianan Plain began to increase in 1933 to 1934, but most of the increased crop production was shipped to Japan at low prices. The agricultural products shipped from Taiwan to Japan accounted for 51.8% of the island’s crop production in 1939, and that year, Yochi Hatta, the Japanese who presided over and designed the Chianan Irrigation Waterway, was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Fourth Class by the Emperor of Japan for the increase in agricultural products shipped from Taiwan to Japan.3 During the Japanese occupation, Japan built roads, railroads, and ports in Taiwan, with the most direct purpose being to transport tea, rice, sugar, and timber from northern, central, and southern Taiwan back to Japan to meet Japan’s needs for industrialization and foreign wars of aggression.

但是,日本在台所有投入和建设的目的,在于巩固其殖民统治和进行殖民掠夺。日据时期,日本曾在台湾修建了若干水利设施,其中知名的有于 1930 年完工的乌头山水库——“嘉南大圳”。水库建成后,1933-1934 年嘉南平原农作物开始增产,但增产的农作物大多低价运往了日本。1939 年,台湾运往日本的农作物占到岛内农作物产量的 51.8%,也就在这一年,主持和设计“嘉南大圳”的日本人八田与一,因台湾运往日本的农作物增加而获得日本天皇的四等瑞宝勋章。日据时期,日本在台修建道路、铺设铁路、建设港口等,最直接的目的就是要将台湾北、中、南部的茶、米、糖以及木材等物资,运回日本,满足日本进行工业化和对外侵略战争的需要。

Today, the Japanese colonial oppression of Taiwan has become history, but many of the facilities and buildings built to reinforce colonial rule are still standing. Some people in Japan and Taiwan have deliberately covered up the colonial history that was accompanied by repression, plunder, and exploitation, making some uninformed young people incapable of smelling the blood that remains on these constructions, and creating the illusion that Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan contributed to Taiwan’s economic development and modernization.

时至今日,日本对台湾的殖民压榨已成为历史,但为强化殖民统治而修建的许多设施和建筑还在, 日本和台湾一些人刻意掩盖那段伴随着镇压、掠夺与榨取的殖民历史,让一些不明就里的年轻人嗅不到这些建设存留上的血腥,并形成日本对台湾的殖民统治促进了台湾的经济发展和现代化的错觉。

The assimilation policy and Japanization / Kominka movement. After 1895, the Japanese colonialists brutally suppressed the continuous popular revolt in Taiwan, but the Taiwanese compatriots did not succumb, and their successive armed protests still inflicted heavy blows on Japanese colonial rule. For this reason, Japan began to adopt “conciliatory policies,” and at the same time implemented the so-called “assimilation” policy on the island. In November 1919, the eighth governor-general, Kenjiro Den, clearly indicated in his policy priorities that “the policy of rule (over) Taiwan should be based on the Japanese spirit, treating the people of Taiwan as subjects of the empire and making them loyal to the emperor, and it is necessary to cultivate a sense of duty to the nation. Therefore, we must devote ourselves to indoctrination and inducement,”4 and “assimilate and integrate” through the expansion and popularization of higher education in Taiwan. However, thanks to the efforts of Lin Hsien-tang, Chiang Wei-shui, and other anti-Japanese leaders, “the Japanese imperial policy of ‘assimilation’ was not only ineffective, but also aroused the national consciousness and resistance of Taiwan’s compatriots.”5

“同化”政策与“皇民化运动”。1895 年以后,日本殖民者对连绵不断的台湾人民反抗运动进行了残酷镇压,但台湾同胞并未屈服,此起彼伏的武装抗暴仍给予日本殖民统治以重创。为此,日本开始采取 “怀柔政策”,同时在岛内推行所谓“同化”方针。1919 年 11 月,第八任总督田健治郎在其施政重点中明确表示,“(对)台湾的统治方针,要以日本精神为出发点,把台湾的民众当作帝国的臣民,使其效忠天皇,又需要培养对国家的义务观念,因此要致力于教化与诱导”,通过扩充与普及台湾的高等教育等,加以“同化融合”。但在林献堂、蒋渭水等抗日领袖的努力下,“日帝的‘同化’政策不但无效,而且更激起了台湾同胞的民族意识和反抗”。

In 1937, Japan launched a full-scale war of aggression against China, and at the same time included Taiwan in its war of aggression system, “asking all of the island’s residents to support the war.” In order to make Taiwanese people serve Japan’s war of aggression, “the colonizers launched the Kominka campaign that attempted to make the people and land of Taiwan ‘a true part of the imperial state'” and instill Yamato culture and a mindset of “loyalty (to the emperor) and patriotism (toward Japan).”6 The main points were: “abolishing Chinese columns in newspapers; promoting the common use of the national language; worshiping at Shinto shrines; abolishing or banning lunar calendar rituals, and abolishing Buddhist and Taoist temples.”7 After 1940, the Japanese rulers increased their efforts to promote the Kominka campaign by forcing Taiwanese to adopt Japanese names, implementing a system to identify “families that commonly use the national language,” and forcing the Japanization of Taiwanese people’s daily lives. They attempted to completely Japanize the Taiwanese in all aspects, from ideology and religious beliefs to language and living habits. The Japanese colonialists’ imperialization campaign was widely and persistently resisted by the Taiwanese people. “Most of the Taiwanese people pretended to support Japanization, while in private they maintained their traditional habits and actually did not change very much.” 8 Faced with the psychological resistance of the Taiwanese people, the Japanese colonial rulers focused on Japanizing the youth. They forced students to undergo Japanese national training, carried out activities to revere the emperor and the Japanese flag, and strengthened “imperial ideological education.”

1937 年,日本发动全面侵华战争,同时将台湾纳入其侵略战争体系中,“要求全岛居民支援战争”。为使台湾人为日本侵略战争效力,“殖民者推出了一个企图使台湾的人和地‘都成为皇国的真正一环’ 的皇民化运动”,灌输大和文化及“忠君(天皇)爱国(日本)”的思想。其重点有:“废止报纸上的汉文栏;推行常用国语运动;参拜神社;废止或禁止旧历年的礼俗;废止寺庙”。1940  年以后, 日本统治者加大推动“皇民化运动”力度,强迫台湾人改用日式姓名,推行“国语常用家庭”认定制度, 强迫台湾人的日常生活日本化,试图从思想、宗教信仰,到语言、生活习惯等各方面对台湾人进行彻 底的日本化改造。日本殖民者的“皇民化运动”遭到台湾民众的广泛持久的抵制,“大部分台湾人表 现上假装支持皇民化,而私底下还是保持着传统的生活习惯,实际上并没有多大改变。” 面对台湾民众的心理反抗,日本殖民统治者将“皇民化”的重点放到青少年身上。他们强迫学生接受日本国民训练,进行敬仰天皇、崇敬日本国旗活动,强化“皇民思想教育”。

From the assimilation policy to the Japanization campaign, Japan spent more than 20 years transforming the people of Taiwan into “true Japanese” in terms of self-identification. Over time, it cultivated a group of people who had a favorable view of Japan and were willing to serve Japanese colonial rule, and for some of the people who grew up with Japanese education, it weakened their identification with the motherland and their own national consciousness, and made them “consider themselves to be Japanese.”

从“同化”政策到“皇民化运动”,日本对台湾人民进行了 20 多年在认知上“成为真正的日本人” 的改造,久而久之也培养出一批对日本抱有好感,愿意为日本殖民统治效力的人,并使得一部分从小 接受日本教育的人弱化了对祖国的认知和自身的民族意识,“自认为是日本人”。

Taiwan’s return and “decolonization.” When Taiwan was restored in October 1945, Japan’s fifty-year colonial rule over Taiwan came to an end, and the 450,000 or so Japanese in Taiwan, including 150,000 military personnel and their families, were repatriated to Japan. The Nationalist (KMT) government then carried out “decolonization” in Taiwan. After the KMT regime retreated to Taiwan in 1949, it further intensified its efforts to remove the influence of Japanese colonialism and eliminate colonial culture, including removing bronze statues of Japanese rulers such as Kobayama and Kodama, as well as stone monuments and Shinto shrines symbolizing Japanese colonial rule, and “banning the use of Japanese language teaching in schools, banning banned books that promoted Japanese colonial cultural ideas, and removing Japanese editions of various newspapers and magazines,”9 renaming administrative divisions and street names, converting some buildings that once symbolized the colonial regime to other uses, etc. However, under the special historical conditions of that time, the decolonization by Chiang Kai-shek’s administration had its limitations. Not only were the tangible traces of colonialism visible everywhere, but Japanese habits in people’s lives, Japanese ways of thinking, and a Japanese complex in their consciousness still existed widely in Taiwanese society. This was especially so in the daily life of the central and southern regions, where Japanese elements, including Japanese furnishings and habits, were ubiquitous, and Japanese words such as ojisan, obasan, and yu (hot spring) were interspersed in conversation. Colonial culture lingered in the subconscious of certain people in tangible and intangible ways. In a sense, these were the social foundations for the revitalization of Japanese elements in Taiwan and the gradual manifestation of the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue after the mid-1990s.

台湾回归与“去殖民化”。1945 年 10 月台湾光复,日本对台 50 年殖民统治终结,在台湾的 45万左右的日本人包括 15 万军人及其家属被遣返回国。国民政府随即在台湾进行“去殖民化”行动。1949  年国民党政权退踞台湾后,进一步加大了清除日本殖民主义影响、摒除殖民文化的力度,包括拆除桦山、儿玉等日本统治者铜像及象征日本殖民统治的石碑、神社等,“禁止在学校使用日语教学、取缔宣传日本殖民文化思想的图书、撤除各种报刊杂志的日本版”,以及重新命名行政区划和街道名称, 一些曾经象征着殖民政权的建筑被转为他用等。但在当时特殊历史条件下,蒋介石当局的“去殖民化” 有其局限性,不仅有形的殖民地痕迹四处可见,人们生活中的日式习惯、思想中的日本方式、意识中 的日本情结仍广泛地存在于台湾社会,尤其是中南部地区的日常生活中日本元素比比皆是,包括日式 陈设和生活习性,在会话中夹杂着诸如欧吉桑、欧巴桑、汤(温泉)等日语等。殖民地文化以有形和 无形的方式残留在某些特定人群的潜意识中。从某种意义上说,这些都是上世纪 90 年代中期以后,日本元素在台湾活化、日本因素在台湾问题中逐渐显性化的社会基础。

Sunken dregs rise to the surface. As the island’s political ecology has changed since the start of the twenty-first century, the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue has gradually become apparent. As to the reasons for this, at least three forces are at work simultaneously. First, there are some people who grew up during the Japanese colonial period and were deeply influenced by Japan’s assimilation policy and Japanization campaign. Most of them were born in upper-class families and received Japanese education from a young age, so their identification with their motherland and nationality was weakened and they had a special favorable feeling for Japan. After the KMT authorities moved to Taiwan, some of these people were employed by the authorities or received assistance and support, but they were discontented and resentful of the KMT authorities’ handling of provincial issues and KMT’s distrust of and lack of reliance on local people, such as Lee Teng-hui. After gaining social status and even power, these people have unabashedly shown their pro-Japanese attitude, and tried to bring the Japanese factor into Taiwan, seeking external support for their confrontation with the mainland. Second, there are “Taiwan independence” forces of various kinds. The older generation of “Taiwan independence” activists, who earlier used Japan as their stronghold for carrying out “Taiwan independence” activities. Since the mid-1990s, these “Taiwan independence” elements living in Japan became active under the stimulus of the changing political environment on the island, and have pushed for Japan’s involvement in the Taiwan issue. On the island, the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in order to seek Japan’s assistance and support, have tried their best to curry favor with Japan and draw it in. They distort and prettify the history of Japanese colonial rule, preach the “glorious achievements” of Japanese colonial rule, white-wash the evils of Japanese colonial rule, selectively reconstruct Taiwan society’s historical memory of Japanese colonial rule, and deliberately try to instill a wrong view of history in the younger generation. Third, there are right-wing pro-Taiwan forces in Japan. Japan has long had pro-Taiwan forces, some of whom have a strong “Taiwan complex.” They were relatively reticent and low-key on Taiwan-related matters for a period of time in the past, constrained by the overall atmosphere of friendly Sino-Japanese relations. But after the mid-1990s, against the background of changes in the international environment, in Sino-Japanese relations, and the island’s political situation, their “Taiwan complex” was activated and their enthusiasm for participating in Taiwan affairs increased greatly. Feeling lost due to Japan’s growth stagnation and the loss of their sense of superiority, they seek from Taiwan, a former colony, “the qualities that Japan once possessed but has now lost, and a reshaping of Japan’s life,” and hope that Taiwan will play a role in restraining China’s rise. 10 They noisily advocate a “Japan-Taiwan with a shared future,” closely connect with the island’s separatist forces, and support and participate in “Taiwan independence” activities.

沉渣泛起。进入 21 世纪以来,随着岛内政治生态的变化,台湾问题中的日本因素逐渐显性化。究其原因,至少有三股力量在同时发挥作用:一是成长于日本殖民时期,深受日本“同化”政策、“皇民化运动”影响的一部分人。他们多出生于上层社会家庭,从小接受日本教育,对祖国和民族的认同弱化, 对日本抱有特殊好感。国民党当局迁台后,其中一些人虽然或为当局所用,或得到协助与支持,但对国民党当局处理省籍问题,及不信任、不重用当地人心怀不满与怨恨,如李登辉等。这些人在取得社会地位甚至掌握大权后,不加掩饰地表现出其亲日态度,力图将日本因素引入台湾,为其对抗大陆寻求外力支持。二是形形色色的“台独”势力。老一代的“台独”分子,早前是以日本为大本营进行“台独”活动,上世纪 90 年代中期以后,这些居住在日本的“台独”分子在岛内政治环境变化的刺激下活跃起来, 力推日本介入台湾问题。在岛内,以民进党为首的“台独”分裂势力,为寻求日本的协助与支持,竭力讨好、拉拢日本,不惜歪曲、美化日本殖民统治史,鼓吹日本殖民统治的“辉煌成就”,抹灭日本殖民统治的恶行,选择性重建台湾社会对日本殖民统治的历史记忆,处心积虑地向年轻一代灌输错误史观。三是日本右翼亲台势力。日本长期存在着亲台势力,其中一些人具有相当浓厚的“台湾情结”,受中日关系友好整体氛围的限制,过去一段时期在涉台事务上表现得较为隐忍、低调。但上世纪90 年代中期以后, 在国际环境、中日关系以及岛内政局发生变化的背景下,他们的“台湾情结”被激活,关注参与台湾事务的热度大升。他们因日本发展停滞、优势感丧失而备感失落,试图从台湾这个前殖民地寻求“日本曾经拥有,目前却已失去的特质,重塑日本的生命”,寄望于台湾在牵制中国崛起中发挥作用。他们鼓吹“日台命运共同体”,密切与岛内分裂势力的联系,支持、参与“台独”活动。

In the past decade or so, the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue has increased significantly. This is directly related to the fact that the above three factors have floated to the surface to exert their influences simultaneously in a specific temporal and spatial context. Moreover, all of these factors are directly or indirectly entangled with the history of Japan’s colonial rule of Taiwan.

近十多年来,台湾问题中的日本因素明显增多,与上述三方面因素在特定时空环境下浮上水面, 同时发生作用与影响有着直接关系。而这些因素与日本对台殖民统治史都有着直接或间接的纠葛。

II. Geopolitical perspective


Geopolitics is simply the phenomena of international politics or international relations from a spatial or geographical perspective. Since Swedish political scientist Rudolf Kjellén first introduced the concept of geopolitics in 1899, people have defined it from different angles, with different focuses and points of emphasis. However, most people would agree with the definition that “as a field of study, geopolitics views geography as a fundamental factor that influences and even determines the political behavior of states.”11 According to American political geographer Saul Bernard Cohen, “the real value of modern geopolitics is the scholarly analysis of the geographical factors that underlie international relations and influence political interactions.”12

地缘政治简单地说是空间或地理视角下的国际政治或国际关系现象。1899  年瑞典政治学家鲁道夫•契伦(Rudolf Kjellén)首先提出地缘政治学概念以来,不同时代的人们从不同的角度对它给出各自的定义,人们的关注点不同,强调的重点也有所不同。不过,多数人同意这样的定义,即“地缘政治学把地理因素视为影响甚至决定国家政治行为的一个基本因素”。美国政治地理学家索尔 • 伯纳德 • 科恩(Saul Bernard Cohen)认为,“现代地缘政治学的真正价值是对构成国际关系基础和影响政治互动的地理因素的学术分析。”

When we take a multidimensional look at the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue, geopolitics is an indispensable and important perspective. The emergence of the Taiwan issue and the failure to resolve it so far, as well as the long-term presence of external factors, including Japan, are closely related to Taiwan’s special geographical location and geostrategic value.


Taiwan’s geographical location and geopolitical role The island of Taiwan is located on the continental shelf of the southeast coast of mainland China, 75 to 200 nautical miles away from land, facing the vast Pacific Ocean. To the northeast are the Ryukyu Islands, with Okinawa about 335 nautical miles away; and the distance between it and the Philippines is 195 nautical miles. Located right in the center of the Western Pacific region, Taiwan is an important north-south hub connecting East Asia and the Pacific region. For China, Taiwan is an important barrier against maritime invasion and an important passage to the oceans. From a geopolitical perspective, it is the meeting point where land power and sea power collide in East Asia. This geographical feature has made it a bridgehead for Eastern and Western powers to enter and contain China for more than a hundred years, and thus it has become an object of their coveting and encroachment.

台湾的地理位置与地缘政治角色。台湾岛位于中国大陆东南沿海的大陆架上,距陆地 75 至 200 海里,东面是浩瀚的太平洋;东北方向是琉球群岛,距冲绳岛约 335 海里;南面是巴士海峡,与菲律宾吕宋岛相距约 195 海里,正处于西太平洋地区的中心位置,是连结东亚和太平洋地区的南北重要枢纽。台湾于中国是防御海上来犯的重要屏障,也是进入海洋的重要通道。在地缘政治视角下,是陆权与海权在东亚地区碰撞的交汇点。这一地理特点,使得东西方列强百余年来一直将其作为进入和遏制中国的桥头堡,从而成为他们觊觎、侵占的对象。

As early as the 17th century, when the Netherlands, Spain, and other Western sea powers expanded from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, they believed that Taiwan’s “west side faced two important maritime trading ports at the time in the southeast of the mainland—Yuegang and Nan’ao Port. By occupying Taiwan and Penghu, one could control the supply of Chinese goods and open the door for trade with China. From Taiwan and Penghu, one could sail north to Japan and Korea, and could sail south to reach various places in Southeast Asia. It is the ‘throat’ of the Pacific West Coast Passage.” 13 In the mid-seventeenth century, during the Toyotomi Hideyoshi period, Japan included Taiwan in its sights of foreign expansion. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan even viewed Taiwan as a springboard for expansion to the mainland. At that time, some people regarded China as “a place that must be contested in Asia,” and “a place that, if not gotten, you will be in danger, but if gotten, the circumstances will be formed for occupying Asia.”14 In Japan’s expansion road map, Taiwan, dubbed China’s “fence of the seven southeastern provinces,” became the first important place it would seize. Former Japanese Prime Minister Masayoshi Matsukata once said, “Taiwan to our country is like the key to the southern gate. If I want to advance south and expand the territory of the Japanese empire, I must pass through this gate.”15 In 1874, Japan sent troops to invade Taiwan. In 1894, Japan deliberately provoked the Sino-Japanese War. One year later, it forced the defeated Qing government to cede Taiwan, making Taiwan a colony of Japan, and then a base for Japan to invade China and Southeast Asia. It was not until Japan’s defeat in World War II that Taiwan was finally returned to Chinese territory.

早在 17 世纪,荷兰、西班牙等西方海权国家在由大西洋向印度洋、太平洋殖民扩张时,就认为台湾“西面正对着当年大陆东南两个重要海上贸易商港——月港和南澳港,占领台、澎(澎湖)就可以控制中国商品的货源,打开对华贸易的大门。台、澎向北可航行到日本、朝鲜各国,向南可抵达南洋各地, 是太平洋西海岸航道的咽喉”。日本在 17 世纪中叶丰臣秀吉时期便将台湾纳入了其对外扩张的视线。明治维新后的日本,更将台湾视为向大陆扩张的跳板。当时就有人将中国视为“亚洲必争之地”,“不得此地则危,苟得此地则形成占据亚洲之形势”。而在日本扩张的路线图中,有着中国“东南七省之藩篱”之称的台湾,成为其首先要夺取的要地。日本前首相松方正义曾称,“台湾之于我国,正如南门之锁钥,我欲向南发展,以扩大日本帝国之版图,非闯过此一门户不可”。1874 年,日本出兵侵犯台湾。1894 年,日本蓄意挑起甲午战争,一年后逼迫战败的清政府割让台湾,致使台湾成为日本的殖民地,进而成为日本侵略中国、南进东南亚的基地,直到第二次世界大战日本战败,台湾才终于回归中国版图。

The Second World War broke down the old world configuration, and after the post-war reorganization, a geopolitical map was eventually formed in which two camps, East and West, confronted each other, and the East-West Cold War began. In East Asia, Japan, being a defeated country, was occupied by the United States and eventually incorporated into the U.S.-led Western camp. The Chiang Kai-shek regime, defeated in the civil war, retreated to Taiwan and used it as a base for a “counter-attack on the mainland,” and it too was included in the Western camp. During the Cold War, the U.S.-led Western countries constructed the First Island Chain, on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean, to blockade and encircle the socialist countries in the East. From south to north, this island chain includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, and the Korean Peninsula, with Taiwan playing a special role in the U.S. East Asian strategy as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” It is worth mentioning that around the 1970s, with the improvement of Sino-American relations and the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, the geopolitical environment in East Asia changed, as the tensions on the west coast of the Pacific under the East-West Cold War posture eased, and the value of Taiwan’s use in the U.S. East Asia strategy weakened, but its geostrategic value did not change. From Japan’s cooperation with the United States in the United Nations in 1970 on engaging in “dual recognition” and persuading the Chiang Kai-shek administration to accept “two Chinas,” to Japan’s position on and attitude toward Taiwan during the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, the importance Japan attaches to Taiwan’s strategic position is clearly reflected. Documents declassified by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs show that, on the eve of the restoration of the People’s Republic of China government’s lawful seat in the United Nations, [Prime Minister Eisaku] Sato’s cabinet had persuaded Chiang Kai-shek’s authorities to accept the “two Chinas” arrangement. This is consistent with Japan’s long-standing idea of attempting to dismember China to remove the security threat.

第二次世界大战打破了世界旧有格局,战后经过重组,最终形成了东西两大阵营对抗的地缘政治 版图,并开启了东西方冷战。在东亚,日本作为战败国,被美国占领,最终被纳入以美国为首的西方阵营。而在内战中失败的蒋介石政权退踞台湾,将其作为“反攻大陆”的基地,也被纳入西方阵营。冷战时期, 美国为首的西方国家在太平洋西岸构筑起的封锁、围堵东方社会主义国家的第一岛链。这条岛链,从 南到北,包括印度尼西亚、菲律宾、台湾、琉球群岛、日本、朝鲜半岛,台湾作为一艘“永不沉没的 航空母舰”,在美国东亚战略中扮演特殊角色。值得一提的是,上世纪 70 年代前后,随着中美关系改善、中日邦交正常化,东亚地区的地缘政治环境发生改变,东西方冷战态势下的太平洋西岸紧张局势 有所缓解,台湾在美国东亚战略中的使用价值有所弱化,但地缘战略价值并未发生变化。从 1970 年日本配合美国在联合国搞“双重承认”,劝说蒋介石当局接受“两个中国”,到中日邦交正常化过程中 日本在台湾问题上的立场与态度,都可以清晰反映出日本对台湾战略地位的重视。日本外务省已经解 密的文件显示,联合国恢复中华人民共和国政府合法席位前夕,佐藤内阁就曾劝说蒋介石当局接受“两个中国”的安排。这与日本长期以来企图肢解中国,解除来自中国的安全威胁的思维是一致的。

The Neighbors That Can’t Move Away—China and Japan. China and Japan are two of Asia’s important countries, and are geographically close neighbors. They are also the two main protagonists in the geopolitics of East Asia, and natural rivals. China is a continental country. According to British scholar Halford Mackinder, one of the founders of geopolitics, continental states derive their power from the territories they occupy, and the magnitude of their power is proportional to the number of territories they occupy. In the eyes of geopolitical scientists, China, located on the Asian continent, with its vast land mass, rich resources, and the ability to provide energy, raw materials, and food, has all the potential of a land power state. In his 1919 book Democratic Ideals and Reality, Mackinder wrote that China, as the largest land power state in Eurasia, with a coastline spanning both tropical and temperate zones, would therefore occupy the most advantageous position in the world. He also predicted that China would be on a par with the United States and Great Britain and would eventually lead the world in building, for a quarter of humanity, a new civilization that was “neither Eastern nor wholly Westernized.”16 As an Asian continental country with a vast territory, China historically has created a splendid Chinese civilization whose influence radiated to neighboring countries in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and even as far as Iran and Europe.

搬不走的邻居——中国与日本。中日是亚洲的两个重要国家,是地理上的近邻,更是东亚地缘政治中的两大主角和天然对手。中国是大陆国家。地缘政治学创立人之一的英国学家哈尔福德• 麦金德认为,大陆国家从它们所占领的领土来获取力量,其力量的大小与其所占领的领土的数量成比例。处于亚洲大陆的中国,有着辽阔土地、丰富资源,能够提供能源、原材料和食物,在地缘政治学家眼中, 具有陆权国家的一切潜力。麦金德在其 1919 年的著作《民主的理想与现实》中写到,中国作为欧亚大陆上最大的陆权国家,海岸线兼跨热带和温带,将因此占据全球最有利的位置。并预言,中国将与美国和英国并驾齐驱,最终引导世界,为人类四分之一的人口建设一种“既非东方的,也不是全盘西化” 的新文明。历史上,中国作为一个幅员辽阔的亚洲大陆国家,创造了辉煌灿烂的中华文明,影响辐射到东北亚、东南亚、中亚等周边国家,甚至远至伊朗、欧洲。

Japan is located in the northern part of the western Pacific Ocean on the periphery of the Eurasian continental plate, and is separated from China by a narrow strip of water. It is an arc-shaped island nation extending from the northeast to the southwest, with a narrow, mostly mountainous land area of about 377,000 square kilometers. Japan has many bays and good harbors and is rich in fishing resources, but at the same time it is a country with a narrow land area, scarce energy resources, and frequent natural disasters. In the view of geopolitics scholars, the behavior of states is largely influenced by “spatial factors such as geographic region, natural resources, ecological status, territorial area, and population size.”17 The completely different natural geographical environments of China and Japan have not only shaped the different traits of the two peoples, but also determined the geopolitical ideologies and policy choices of the two states, which have in turn profoundly affected their relationship. In the thousands of years-long relationship between China and Japan, there has been a history of Japan learning and taking lessons from a powerful China, and there is also the experience of an aggressively expanding Japan invading a declining China. Geographic location is a constant, but the geopolitical pattern is changing because “both geographical settings and political processes are dynamic, and each influences and is influenced by the other.”18 In the changing geopolitical environment, the relationship between China and Japan is changing, and it also affects the geopolitical landscape of East Asia.

日本位于西太平洋的北部,亚欧大陆板块的边缘,与中国一衣带水,是一个由东北向西南延伸的弧型岛国,陆地面积狭小,约 37.7 万平方公里,且以山地为主。日本有着诸多海湾和良港,渔类资源丰富,但同时又是一个国土面积狭窄、能源资源匮乏、自然灾害频发的国家。在地缘政治学家看来, 国家的行为在很大程度上受到“地理区域、自然资源、生态状况、领土面积和人口数量等空间因素的影响”。大陆中国和海洋日本,完全不同的自然地理环境,不仅塑造了两个民族的不同特性,也决定了两个国家大相径庭的地缘政治思想和政策选择,更深刻影响到两国关系。在中日长达数千年的关系中,曾经有过日本向强盛的中国学习、取经的历史,也有过积极对外扩张的日本侵略衰落的中国的经验。地理位置是不变的,但地缘政治格局却是变化的,因为“地缘环境与政治过程都是动态的,每一方影响着另一方,又被另一方影响”。中日两国关系在变化的地缘环境中发生着改变,同时也影响着东亚地区的地缘政治格局。

The emergence of the juxtaposition of two powers, China and Japan. In the 1990s, the Soviet Union was dismantled overnight, ending the East-West Cold War that had lasted for more than 40 years. The bipolar pattern collapsed, leaving the United States as the sole superpower to dominate the world. This was followed by the release of the political energies of major strategic forces that had been kept in check under the Cold War pattern, driving the reorganization of geopolitics in the new world. A prominent feature of the geopolitics of East Asia is the juxtaposition of the two powers, China and Japan. Post-war Japan began its full economic recovery and take-off around the mid-1950s with the help of massive U.S. purchases due to the Korean War. After less than 20 years of rapid economic development, Japan by 1968 became the second largest economic power in the world after the United States, and for a long time it played a “lead goose” role in the economic development of East Asia. Since the reform and opening up of China in the late 1970s, China has entered the fast lane of rapid economic development, with an average annual growth rate of about 10% for several decades. With its economic growth greatly boosted, it overtook Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy after the United States in 2010. At the same time, China’s foreign exchanges and interactions have been expanding, its international status and influence have been rising, and it has begun to play an increasingly important role in international affairs, especially in regional affairs. East Asia is witnessing the juxtaposition of two powers as never before.

中日两强并立局面的出现。上世纪 90 年代前后,苏联一夜之间解体,持续了 40 多年的东西方冷战结束,两极格局瓦解,美国作为唯一超级大国称霸世界。随之而来的是冷战格局下被束缚的各主要战略力量的政治能量得到释放,推动着新世界地缘政治的重组。东亚地区地缘政治呈现出的突出特点之一,是中日两强的并立。战后的日本在上世纪 50 年代中期前后,借助美国因朝鲜战争的大量采购,开始了经济的全面复兴和起飞,经过不到 20 年的经济高速发展,到 1968 年日本已然成为仅次于美国的世界第二经济大国,并长时间在东亚地区经济发展中扮演着“领头雁”的角色。中国自上世纪 70 年代末实行改革开放后,进入了经济高速发展的快车道,持续数十年的年均 10% 左右的高速增长,极大地推动了经济的发展, 2010 年超过日本成为仅次于美国的世界第二大经济体。与此同时,中国对外交流交往不断扩大,国际地位与国际影响力日益提升,在国际事务尤其是在地区事务中开始扮演越来越重要的角色。东亚地区前所未有地出现了两强并立的局面。

Increasingly open and connected to the world, China, in the eyes of geopolitics scholars, “as the center of East Asia, has gradually developed a strong ocean-oriented economic base, which, combined with its continental nature, has enabled it to carve out a separate jurisdiction for geopolitical warfare with both continental and maritime dimensions.” 19 Japan, which in the recent past prided itself on being the only modern nation in Asia, is entirely incapable of adapting to China’s rapid rise. In the view of some Japanese, the effects of China’s rise not only challenge Japan’s position in East Asia, but may even threaten Japan’s strategic security. In fact, Japan’s strategic suspicions of China have been evident for more than a decade, whether in the increasingly blatant treatment of China as an imaginary enemy in official Japanese public documents or in the shift of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ defense focus from the north to the southwest. Sino-Japanese relations are beginning to enter a phase of rising mutual distrust and intensifying competition. In this context, Taiwan’s geostrategic importance for Japan has become even more conspicuous. Or, as the noted geographer Robert D. Kaplan argues, with regard to the First Island Chain which contained China and continued to play a role in guarding against China’s rise after the end of the Cold War, “of all the guard towers in the First Island Chain—a sort of maritime ‘Great Wall in reverse,’ Taiwan is in the highest and most central position. Once Taiwan returns to mainland China’s embrace, its role as a great maritime wall and fortress will come to an abrupt end, and the Chinese navy will immediately be in a much more advantageous strategic position. Its national energy, especially military energy, will be projected dramatically outward to an extent that is currently unimaginable.”20 Japan is highly dependent on imports and exports, and sea passages are Japan’s lifeline. Taiwan is on the route Japan must take going south to Southeast Asia and on to the Persian Gulf, and is thus key to Japan’s maritime lifeline. As a result, some people in Japan claim that “if Taiwan were controlled by a country other than Japan, it would be like putting a noose around Japan’s neck that could be tightened at any time.”21 Maintaining a state of separation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is not only a requirement for Japan’s security interests, but also a strategic need for holding China’s development in check. Taiwan is an important gateway to the Pacific Ocean for China, and Japan, which has had a naval power consciousness for more than a century, naturally attaches great value to Taiwan as an important means of preventing China’s seaward development and growth. This is precisely the reason why Japan’s willingness to intervene in Taiwan Strait has increased since the twenty-first century, and thus why the Taiwan issue, which had existed relatively implicitly in Sino-Japanese relations for some time after the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, is becoming increasingly visible. The advent of the globalization era has largely changed the geopolitical structure, but in East Asia, the geopolitical friction present between the two powers, China and Japan, is intensifying. While it is uncertain how the future competition and friction between China and Japan will evolve, what is certain is that the contest between China and Japan over Taiwan will not stop, and may even escalate.

越来越开放、与世界联系越来越密切的中国,在地缘政治学家眼中,“作为东亚的中心,已经逐 渐形成了一个强大的以海洋为导向的经济基础,其与它的大陆性质结合在一起,使它能够开辟出一个 单独的大陆海洋兼具的地缘战辖区”。而近代以来一直以亚洲地区唯一现代化国家自居的日本,全然不能适应中国的快速崛起。在一些日本人看来,中国崛起所带来的影响,不仅挑战了日本在东亚地 区的地位,甚至可能威胁到日本的战略安全。事实上,近十多年来,无论是日本官方公开的文件中越 来越露骨地将中国视为假想敌,还是日本自卫队将防卫重心从北方转向西南方向,都可以看出其对中 国的战略猜忌。中日关系开始进入相互不信任度上升、竞争加剧的阶段。在此背景下,台湾对于日本 而言,在地缘战略上的重要性更加突出。或如著名的地理学者罗伯特 •D. 卡普兰所言,遏制中国的第一岛链,冷战结束后在防范中国崛起中继续发挥作用,“在第一岛链这个海上‘反向长城’的所有守 卫塔中,台湾处于最高和最核心的位置。一旦台湾回到中国大陆怀抱,它所扮演的海上长城和要塞的 作用就戛然而止,而中国海军就会立刻处于更有利的战略地位,其国家的能量,特别是军事方面的能量, 将急剧地向外投射,达到现在不可想象的程度”。日本对进出口依赖度很高,海上通道是日本的生命线。而台湾是日本南下东南亚、进入波斯湾的必经之路,正扼日本海上生命线的要冲。因此,日本 有人声称,“台湾如被日本以外的国家控制,就等于给日本的脖子套上一条可以随时勒紧的绳索”。维持台海两岸分隔状态,不仅是日本的安全利益需求,而且是牵制中国发展的战略需要。台湾是中国 进出太平洋的重要门户,早在 100 多年前就已具有海权意识的日本,当然会看重台湾在阻止中国走向海洋、发展壮大的重要价值。这正是进入 21 世纪以来,日本插手台海事务的意愿增大,进而使得中日邦交正常化后一段时期中日关系中相对隐性存在的台湾问题日益显性化的重要原因。全球化时代的到来,在很大程度上改变了地缘政治结构,但在东亚地区,中日两个强国的地缘政治摩擦却在加剧。虽然中日未来的竞争与摩擦将如何演化尚无法确定,但可以确定的是,中日间在台湾问题上的较量不会停止,甚至可能升级。

III. The Taiwan Strait from a Practical Perspective


In addition to the historical and geopolitical contexts, the Japanese factor has long been present and influential in the Taiwan issue, due to many practical realities within the island of Taiwan and around the Taiwan Strait.


Taiwan’s internal forces have assisted and wooed Japan. Since the separation of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait in 1949, the political positions on confronting the mainland—from Chiang Kai-shek and his son, who aimed to “counterattack the mainland” and “oppose the communists and recover the country,” to the governments of Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, and Tsai Ing-wen, who have sought “Taiwan independence,” as well as Ma Ying-jeou, who advocated for “no independence, no unification, and no military force”— were very different and had vastly different policy goals, but they were nonetheless unanimous in seeking support from external forces, especially the United States and Japan, for resisting the mainland. In fact, with regard to the contrast in power between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, at no time since 1949 would the Taiwan authorities have been able to stop the Chinese government’s efforts to unify all of China without the intervention of the United States and other external forces, and the Taiwan issue would not have remained unresolved to this day. In other words, the Taiwanese authorities have always had the desire to draw in and win over Japan to counterbalance the mainland, and this is the fundamental reason for the long-lingering Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue. However, because different ruling authorities on the island have had different basic positions on cross-Strait policies, there have been clear differences of emphasis in introducing and utilizing the Japanese factor. This has, to a large degree, affected the form and extent of the Japanese factor’s presence in the Taiwan issue. The regime of Chiang and his son, who regarded Japan as their helper against the mainland, made limited use of Japan and also limited the presence of the Japanese factor in Taiwan. The Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian administrations took Japan as an important external force in their “quest for independence and rejection of unification,” pursued pro-Japanese and Japan-friendly policies, and vigorously developed Taiwan-Japan relations, resulting in the full penetration of the Japanese factor into Taiwan’s politics, economy, and society. Against the backdrop of the growing contrast in power between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and the continuous economic and social integration across the Strait, the Tsai Ing-wen administration, which took office in 2016, has become more dependent on Japan in order to resist the pressure for reunification from the mainland and seek Taiwan’s “de facto independence.” It has made every effort to get Japan’s full support for its political policy of “de facto Taiwan independence,” its economic policy of alienation from the mainland, and its international policy of enhancing substantive relations and expanding its space for activity. By voluntarily casting their lot with Japan, the Taiwan authorities have undoubtedly provided more opportunities for Japan to intervene in the Taiwan issue.

台湾内部势力对日本的借助与拉拢。1949  年两岸分隔以来,为了与大陆对抗,无论是以“反攻大陆”、“反共复国”为目标的蒋氏父子政权,还是谋求“台独”的李登辉、陈水扁、蔡英文当局,以 及主张“不独、不统、不武”的马英九当局,虽然政治立场大相径庭,政策目标存在巨大差异,但是 在争取外部势力尤其是美国、日本的支持,以抗拒大陆这一点上是一致的。事实上,单就两岸力量对 比看,1949  年以来的任何时期,若没有美国等外力的介入,台湾当局根本无法阻挡中国政府统一全中国的步伐,台湾问题也不可能迟至今日未能解决。换言之,台湾当局一直存在拉拢、争取日本与大陆 抗衡的意愿,这是台湾问题中日本因素长期挥之不去的根本原因。不过,由于岛内不同执政当局在两 岸政策上的基本立场不同,引入并利用日本因素的侧重点有明显区别,这在很大程度上影响着日本因 素在台湾问题中的表现形式和存在程度。蒋氏父子当局,将日本视为其抗衡大陆的助力,对日本有限 利用,也限制了日本因素在台湾的存在。李登辉、陈水扁当局,将日本作为其“谋独拒统”的重要外力, 全面推行亲日、媚日政策,大力发展台日关系,造成了日本因素对台湾政治、经济、社会的全面渗入。在两岸实力对比继续拉大、两岸经济社会不断融合的大背景下,2016  年上台的蔡英文当局为抗拒来自大陆的统一压力、谋求台湾的“事实独立”,对日本的依赖更重,竭力争取日本对其政治上“事实台独” 政策、经济上疏离大陆政策、国际上提升实质关系与拓展活动空间政策等给予全面支持。台湾当局主 动投靠日本,无疑给日本介入台湾问题提供了更多机会。

In addition, the gradual spread of a consciousness of separation in the island’s society has also provided conditions for the Japanese factor to penetrate into Taiwan. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been separated for more than 60 years, and during this period, the two sides have followed different development paths. Significant differences in their lifestyles exist as well, which objectively tend to cause mutual estrangement and alienation. However, the main thing that has led to varying degrees of misunderstanding and distrust of the mainland among the majority of Taiwan’s population, especially the growth of a consciousness of separation in Taiwanese society, has been the result of the deliberate guidance of the Taiwanese authorities. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, who were in power for 20 years, vigorously pursued secessionist policies and promoted “de-sinicization,” especially among young people, creating a sense of local opposition to the mainland, and thus causing some people, especially young people, to have a confused national identity and a more or less “Taiwanese subject consciousness” and a consciousness of separation. Faced with the further widening of the power disparity between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and the increasingly strong dominance of the mainland in the direction of cross-Strait relations, some Taiwanese people, including young people, have doubts about the growing closeness between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and even fear that their current lives may change as a result. Given this social atmosphere, both the “independence seekers” and the “unification rejectionists” are in dire need of external support and reliance, and Japan, which has special ties with Taiwan and shares a common interest in fearing the rise of mainland China, has become an important target for them. Having cast their lot with Japan, they cater to the Japanese right-wing’s position in favor of dismembering China, take the initiative to introduce the Japanese factor into the island’s political, economic and social life and cross-Strait relations, and seek backing and moral support for their “quest for independence and rejection of unification.” This is one of the reasons why the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue has emerged and grown.

此外,岛内社会逐渐蔓延的分离意识也为日本因素渗入台湾提供了条件。台海两岸分隔长达 60 多年,在此期间,两岸走过不同的发展道路,生活方式也存在不小差异,客观上容易造成相互间的隔阂和疏离。但导致台湾多数民众对大陆产生不同程度的误解和不信任,特别是台湾社会的分离意识增长, 更主要的是台湾当局的刻意引导。李登辉、陈水扁相继主政 20 年,大力推行分裂国家政策、推动“去中国化”,尤其在青年人中制造与大陆对立的本土意识,从而使一些人特别是年轻人国家认同错乱, 具有或多或少的“台湾主体意识”、分离意识。面对两岸力量悬殊对比进一步扩大,大陆越来越强有力地主导两岸关系发展方向,一些台湾民众包括年轻人对两岸日益接近抱有疑虑,甚至恐惧现有生活可能因此而发生改变。在此社会氛围下,无论是“谋独”还是“拒统”,都迫切需要获得外力的支持与依靠,而与台湾有着特殊关系且在担心中国大陆崛起有共同利益的日本成了他们的重要目标。他们投靠日本,迎合日本右翼肢解中国等的主张,主动将日本因素引入岛内政治经济社会生活及两岸关系之中,为“谋独拒统”寻求靠山和精神支持。这也是台湾问题中日本因素显现并有所增加的原因之一。

Competition between China and Japan has intensified. China and Japan are natural geopolitical rivals, and the history of Sino-Japanese relations in recent times has deeply planted seeds of mutual distrust between the two countries. After the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, although both governments have emphasized the development of friendly relations, some issues and conflicts, such as the issue of history, the Diaoyu Islands issue, and the Taiwan issue, have not been properly resolved. The Taiwan issue in particular has been an important bargaining chip for Japan in dealing with China, and how it uses this bargaining chip depends on the status of Sino-Japanese relations and what kind of policy the Japanese government adopts toward China.

中日竞争态势加剧。中日两国是地缘上的天然对手,而近代以来的中日关系史,又在两国间深深埋下了互不信任的种子。中日邦交正常化以后,虽然两国政府都强调发展友好关系,但是一些问题和矛盾诸, 如历史问题、钓鱼岛问题以及台湾问题等,并未得到妥善解决。其中,台湾问题一直是日本处理对华关系的重要筹码,而如何使用这个筹码则取决于中日关系状况以及日本政府采取何种对华政策。

During the nearly two decades of China’s rapid rise, Japan has also been making efforts to successfully “become a normal nation,” and the two different demands have begun to meet head-on in the twenty-first century. On the one hand, after more than a decade of economic stagnation, Japan has increased its efforts to “become a normal major power” and enhance its international status; on the other hand, China is rising at a faster and faster pace, and playing an increasingly important role in the East Asian region and on the world stage. China’s GDP reached $6.5 trillion in 2010, surpassing Japan’s $5.4 trillion and making it the second largest economy after the United States. China is still accelerating, with its GDP reaching $11 trillion in 2016, compared to $4.38 trillion for Japan. The reversal of the power contrast between China and Japan has triggered subtle changes in their mutual relations. The main theme of Sino-Japanese friendship that followed the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan has begun to change its tune, and Sino-Japanese relations have taken a turn for the worse. Japanese scholars assess that “this is a reflection of the rising status of China relative to Japan. Japan is under the impact from China, and the essence of the impact it feels lies in the fact that Japan has not yet left behind the ‘Japan = superior, China = inferior’ construct.”22 This merely reveals Japan’s discomfort with China’s rise on a psychological level. But on a practical level, it manifests itself in Japan’s increasingly obvious strategic suspicions and precautions directed toward China. These strategic suspicions and precautions toward China, intertwined with Japan’s foreign policy of maintaining its established strategic interests in East Asia, have pushed the friction and competition between China and Japan higher.

在中国快速崛起的近 20 年时间里,日本也在进行实现“正常国家化”的努力,两种不同的诉求进入 21 世纪后开始正面遭遇。一方面,日本在经过 10 多年的经济停滞之后,推动“正常大国化”、提升日本国际地位的力度加大;另一方面,中国崛起的步伐越来越快,在东亚地区乃至世界舞台上扮演 的角色日愈重要。2010 年中国 GDP 达到 6.5 万亿美元,超过日本的 5.4 万亿美元,成为仅次于美国的第二大经济体,而中国还在加速,2016 年中国 GDP 达到 11 万亿美元,日本为 4.38 亿美元。中日实力对比的逆转,引发了相互关系的微妙变化,中日邦交正常化后的中日友好主旋律开始变调,中日关系 出现了向坏的趋向。对此,日本学者分析认为,“这是中国相对于日本地位上升局面出现后的表现。 日本受到来自中国的冲击,而感到冲击的实质在于日本至今未跳脱‘日本= 优者,中国= 劣者的构图’”。这仅仅只是揭示了日本对于中国崛起的心理层面的不适应,而在现实层面上则表现为日本对中国越来越明显的战略猜忌和防范。这种对华的战略猜忌和防范,与日本维持在东亚地区既有战略利益的对外政策交织在一起,推高了中日之间的摩擦与竞争。

In this context, the status and value of the “Taiwan card” in Japan’s strategy for containing China are rising rapidly. Japanese political and academic circles are gradually heating up over rhetoric such as “Taiwan is Japan’s lifeline,” “Taiwan’s existence is very important to Japan’s security,” and “once China is unified and controls the western Pacific Ocean, China will have a clear advantage over Japan strategically.” According to Fujii Itsuki, a visiting professor at Takushoku University, “from the perspective of Japan’s own national interests, in order to maintain Japan’s prosperity, an independent and free Taiwan is quite important. If China threatens the status quo of Taiwan’s independence, it will affect Japan. Taiwan and Japan can be called a community of life.”23 Changing from its previous cautious approach to Taiwan relations, the Japanese government has become more proactive and aggressive in Taiwan affairs and cross-Strait relations. Since the Koizumi administration, the Japanese government has changed hands several times, but its involvement in the Taiwan issue has continued unabatedly. After the Abe administration took office for the second time, given the context of increased Sino-Japanese competition and Japan’s more assertive policy toward China, it was inevitable that the value of Taiwan in Japan’s China containment strategy would rise further. In fact, the Abe administration had increased its efforts to adjust its policy toward Taiwan, with Japan-Taiwan relations warming rapidly and Japan’s influence in Taiwan gradually growing. It can be expected that the Sino-Japanese competitive dynamic will continue for a period of time. This means that Japan’s emphasis on the strategic value of Taiwan will remain at a high level, and Japan will further step up its involvement in Taiwan affairs, increase its influence on Taiwan issues, and strengthen its ability to obstruct the development of cross-Strait relations in order to ensure that the strategic pattern in the Taiwan Strait remains favorable to Japan.


The role of the United States. In the postwar period, the United States dominated the Western Pacific region as a superpower, strongly influencing East Asian affairs. Japan is the United States’ most important ally in East Asia. Japan has long followed the United States diplomatically and played an important role in the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy of maintaining the strategic pattern in East Asia and containing China. Before World War II had ended and while the United States and Japan were still engaged in a vicious battle for islands in the Pacific, geographer Nicholas J. Spykman recommended that the United States “build a postwar alliance with Japan to deal with continental powers such as the Soviet Union, and especially with a rising China. For the United States, this powerful East Asian maritime island nation could play the same role in the Far East as Britain did in Europe.”24 In fact, after the end of World War II, Japan, which was occupied by the U.S. military, was soon incorporated into the U.S. strategic layout for East Asia, becoming the strategic pivot point of the United States for encircling the Far East strongholds of the Communist camp and containing China.

美国角色。战后以来,美国作为超级大国一直在西太平洋地区占据主导地位,强势影响东亚事务。日本是美国在东亚地区的最重要盟国。长期以来日本在外交上追随美国,在美国维持东亚战略格局、 牵制中国的亚太战略中扮演重要角色。地理学家尼古拉斯•J. 斯皮克曼在第二次世界大战尚未结束、美国和日本还在太平洋上进行夺岛恶战之际,就已建议美国“与日本结成战后联盟,以对付苏联等大 陆强权,特别是正在崛起的中国。对美国来说,这个强大的东亚海上岛国在远东可以发挥同英国在欧 洲一样的作用。” 事实上,二战结束后,被美军占领的日本很快就被纳入美国的东亚战略布局之中, 变成美国围堵东方共产主义阵营的远东大本营,遏制中国的战略支点。

The United States is the biggest external factor influencing the Taiwan issue, and it has also been the instigator and manipulator of Japan’s involvement in the Taiwan issue. The San Francisco Treaty of Peace with Japan, which was manipulated by the United States, stipulated that Japan “renounced” rather than “returned” all rights and claims to Taiwan and the Penghu Islands, laying the groundwork for the so-called “undetermined status of Taiwan.” It also became an important excuse for successive Japanese governments to refuse to explicitly recognize that Taiwan is part of China. That was just the beginning, however. After the San Francisco Treaty of Peace with Japan, the Japanese government of Yoshida Shigeru signed the so-called Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan with the retreating KMT authorities in Taiwan, recognizing Chiang Kai-shek’s regime. In the 1970s, Japan cooperated with the United States to promote the so-called “dual representation” proposal in the United Nations, whereby China would obtain a permanent seat in the UN and the Security Council while the Taiwan authorities remained in the UN as an ordinary member, in an attempt to create “two Chinas,” all under the control and arrangement of the United States. In addition, since the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan in September 1951, which established the Japan-U.S. alliance, Taiwan has been included in the scope of the joint defense of the United States and Japan, either openly or implicitly.

美国是影响台湾问题的最大外部因素,也是日本介入台湾问题的始作俑者和操纵者。由美国一手操纵的《旧金山对日和约》,规定日本“放弃”而不是“归还”对台湾、澎湖列岛的一切权利和要求,为所谓“台湾地位未定”埋下伏笔,也成为日本历届政府拒不明确承认台湾是中国一部分的重要借口。而这只是开始,《旧金山对日和约》之后,日本吉田茂政府与退踞台湾的国民党当局签订所谓“日华和平条约”,承认蒋介石政权;上世纪 70 年代前后,日本在联合国配合美国推动所谓“双重代表权”提案, 即中国取得在联合国及安理会常任理事国的席位,台湾当局仍以一般会员国的身份继续留在联合国内, 企图制造“两个中国”等活动都是在美国的操控、安排下进行的。此外,自 1951 年 9 月日美签署《日美安全保障条约》确立日美同盟关系以来,台湾地区一直被公开或隐晦地纳入美日共同防卫的范围之内。

For a period of time after China and Japan normalized diplomatic relations, Japan remained unchanged in its cooperation with the U.S. policy on the Taiwan Strait, but was relatively cautious on Taiwan-related issues and was more concerned about the position and attitude of the Chinese government. After 2000, as the United States stepped up its efforts to contain China, Japan’s involvement in Taiwan Strait affairs also increased. In 2005, for the first time, the United States and Japan publicly included the “peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Strait issue” as a “common strategic goal” of both sides. In this regard, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said, “The United States is strongly concerned about this matter, and there is nothing particularly new about it for Japan,” implying that it was at the insistence of the United States.25 Since Japan’s national interests and strategic considerations do not fully coincide with those of the United States on the Taiwan issue, and it is also constrained by the Sino-Japanese relationship, Japan sometimes is not entirely in lockstep with the United States. After the improvement of Sino-U.S. relations in the early 1970s, Japan preceded the United States in severing official relations with Taiwan and resuming normal diplomatic relations with China. During Chen Shui-bian’s administration, his adventurous “Taiwan independence” behavior led to high tensions in the Taiwan Strait and harmed U.S. interests there, causing serious dissatisfaction in the Bush administration. Although the U.S. government repeatedly issued stern warnings against Chen Shui-bian’s “Taiwan independence” provocations, the Japanese government never made a clear statement on the “Taiwan independence” issue. However, it is worth noting that in recent years, as competition between China and Japan has intensified, the value of Taiwan in Japan’s strategy toward China has risen, and Japan has shown a tendency to actively cooperate with the U.S. Taiwan Strait policy, sometimes taking the initiative to use U.S. power, and even secretly pushing the United States to increase its involvement in Taiwan affairs and strengthen its influence over Taiwan. The United States will continue to play a rather important role in Japan’s involvement in the Taiwan issue for the foreseeable future.

中日邦交正常化以后的一段时期,日本虽然在配合美国台海政策方面保持不变,但在涉台问题上相对谨慎,较为顾忌中国政府的立场与态度。2000 年以后,随着美国加大对华牵制力度,推动日本介入台海事务的力度也不断增加。2005 年,美日首次公开将“和平解决台湾海峡问题”列入双方“共同战略目标”。对此,日本内阁官房长官细田博之称,“美国强烈关切此事,对日本而言,其中并无特别新的成分”,暗示是美国的坚持。由于在台湾问题上,日本的国家利益、战略考虑与美国并不完全一致,并且还受到中日关系的牵制,日本有时也不完全与美国保持同一步调。上世纪 70 年代初中美关系改善之后, 日本在与台湾断绝官方关系,恢复与中国邦交正常化就走了在美国前面。陈水扁主政时期,进行“台独” 冒险行为,造成台海局势高度紧张,损害到美国台海利益,引起小布什政府严重不满,美国政府多次对陈水扁的“台独”挑衅发出严厉警告,但日本政府却始终不对“台独”问题做明确表态。不过,值得重视的动向是,近年来,随着中日竞争加剧,台湾在日本对华战略中的使用价值上升,日本表现出积极配合美国台海政策,有时主动借助美国力量,甚至暗地里推动美国加大介入台湾事务,加强对台湾影响力的趋向。可预见的未来,美国在日本介入台湾问题方面仍将扮演相当重要的角色。

By examining the issue from multiple perspectives, three major qualities of the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue can be broadly summarized.


Complexity. Due to the combined effects of various factors, Japan is more likely to infiltrate all aspects of Taiwan society than any other foreign factor, including the United States, and it is more likely to form links with Taiwan’s politics, economy, society, and even culture. As a result, Japan’s influence on Taiwan is also relatively extensive and deep.


Long-term nature. Fundamentally, external factors including Japan will exist as long as the Taiwan issue remains unresolved, and Taiwan will be a bargaining chip in Japan’s hands against China. In terms of Sino-Japanese relations, it will take some time to go through mutual adaptation to each other’s changes, reduce strategic suspicion and competition, and then establish a healthy, stable, and mutually trusting relationship between the two countries. During this period, due to its own interests, Japan’s subjective desire to intervene in the Taiwan issue, influence Taiwan affairs, and interfere with cross-Strait reunification will only grow stronger, not weaker, and there will be no reduction in relevant measures. In this sense, the Japanese factor in the Taiwan issue will accompany the whole cross-Strait reunification process.


Diminishing influence. This is determined by the increasing ability of mainland China to lead and shape the direction of cross-Strait relations. As China’s comprehensive national power continues to grow, as the policy measures for promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations become more and more effective, and as the economic and social integration of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait continues, it is inevitable that the influence of the Japanese factor on the Taiwan issue will gradually diminish.


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修春萍 (Xiu Chunping) (2023). "A Multi-Perspective Analysis of the Japanese Factor in the Taiwan Issue [多视角下台湾问题中的日本因素解析]". Interpret: China, Original work published April 20, 2018, https://interpret.csis.org/translations/a-multi-perspective-analysis-of-the-japanese-factor-in-the-taiwan-issue/

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