- HOME >
- About the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 >
- 5.Fighting in Taiwan : Establishment of Office of Governor-General of Taiwan and Republic of Formosa – Conclusion of the war
5.Fighting in Taiwan : Establishment of Office of Governor-General of Taiwan and Republic of Formosa – Conclusion of the war
The Japanese forces land on Penghu Island
On 23 March 1895 units of the Japanese army began to land on Penghu Island, the largest of the Pescadores Islands, located 50 km west of Taiwan. This was three days after the peace conference between representatives of the Japanese and Qing governments began in Shimonoseki.
Japanese Imperial General Headquarters had been preparing to despatch forces to Penghu Island since the middle of January. It had been decided that an army contingent as well as the navy's Combined Fleet would be sent and on 1 February a Mixed Detachment was established (Document 1). The main part of this Mixed Detachment left Ujina Harbour in Hiroshima on 8 March and joined up with the rest of the force in Shimonoseki the following day. At the port of Sasebo they came under the command of Vice Admiral Itō Sukeyuki, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, and together headed for Taiwan. The fleet arrived off Penghu Island on 20 March and, after reconnaissance, decided on a landing site in the south-east of the island. On 23 March the Combined Fleet opened fire on the coastal forts and the army units started to come ashore.
As soon as they landed the Japanese troops headed for Ma-kung (Magong) in the centre of the island. The defending Chinese forces intercepted them and fierce fighting ensued. On 24 March, under covering fire from the fleet, the Japanese launched their attack on Ma-kung. Late that night the Chinese surrendered and Ma-kung fell (Document 2).
During the fighting at Ma-kung Japanese troops began to fall ill with cholera one after another. Soldiers and porters who had been healthy when they landed on Penghu suddenly developed cholera once the fighting started. The disease spread rapidly among the troops and with insufficient personnel and medicine to treat them many died each day (Document 3). Even after the fall of Ma-kung and the occupation of the islands the virulence of the disease showed no sign of diminishing and it was not until the middle of April that it began to abate. By this stage the total number affected was 1,700 of whom around 1,000 died (Document 4). Thereafter the Japanese army continued to suffer from diseases such as malaria, dysentery and beriberi with the result that many times more succumbed to disease (11,900 officers and men) than had died in all the fighting since the start of the Sino-Japanese War (around 1,400 officers and men) (see Harada Keiichi, Sensō no Nihon shi 19 : Nisshin sensō [Military history of Japan. 19 : Sino-Japanese War], Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2008, pp.279, 283).
The popular movement in Taiwan and the 'Republic of Formosa'
At this time Taiwan was a territory of Qing China (under the jurisdiction of Fujian Province) and was inhabited by large numbers of Han Chinese who had come across from the Chinese mainland – chiefly from Fujian and Guangdong Provinces – and by indigenous Taiwanese peoples. From the mid 19th century, as a result, of British and French demands for the opening of the port of Tainan during the Arrow War (Second Opium War) (1856-1860), the influence of Western powers in Taiwan began to increase. In response, in 1885 the Qing government established 'Taiwan Province' and a system of control by Han Chinese governors or xunfu (Document 5).
As the progress of the Sino-Japanese War revealed the weakness of the Chinese army, the Qing government came to realize there was a strong possibility that Japan would demand the cession of Taiwan as a condition of peace. Opinion within the government was divided over whether to accept this demand or not. Knowing this, Tang Ching-sung (Tang Jingsong), the governor of Taiwan, petitioned the government to reject any such Japanese demand for cession (Xu Shikai (Koh Se-kai), Nihon tōchika no Taiwan : teikō to dan'atsu [Formosa under the Japanese rule : resistance and suppression], Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 1972, p.14). However, on 17 April 1895 the 'Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty' ('Treaty of Shimonoseki') was signed between the Chinese and Japanese governments which included the cession of Taiwan and the Pescadores, formally acknowledging that Taiwan was Japanese territory.
In Taiwan there was strong opposition to the cession of the island to Japan both among the Chinese officials sent over by the Qing government and the leaders of the resident Han Chinese population. On 23 May these individuals proclaimed Taiwan an independent state known in English as the 'Republic of Formosa'. Subsequently Tang Ching-sung was appointed President of the new state (25 May), a new era name (Yongqing, literally 'Forever Qing') and flag were adopted and various other national structures and institutions established. Its army was composed of units of the former Qing army under the leadership of Chinese officials and generals but later it was the volunteer militia organised by the local Chinese who came to bear the brunt of the fighting with the Japanese (Ōtani Tadashi, Nisshin sensō : kindai Nihon hatsu no taigai sensō no jitsuzō [The Sino-Japanese War : the real image of modern Japan's first overseas war], Chūō Kōronsha, 2014, p.226).
The Western nations did not intervene in the cession of Taiwan to Japan nor did they recognise the independence movement of the Republic of Formosa. As a result the Republic of Formosa came to war with Japan without the support of the international community.
The start of fighting in Taiwan
Having acquired Taiwan under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Japanese government set up new structures to rule the island. On 10 May 1895, Admiral Kabayama Sukenori (promoted on this occasion from Vice Admiral to full Admiral) was appointed Governor-General, the head of the Japanese ruling authority in Taiwan. Under the Governor-General was the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan (Japanese: Taiwan Sōtokufu), established in Taipei in the north of the island which formed the centre of Japanese control of Taiwan.
On 24 May Governor-General Kabayama and his staff set sail from Ujina and rendezvoused with the Imperial Guards in Okinawa. On 29 May they landed on Samtiao (Sandiao) Point, a headland in the north-east of Taiwan, known in English as Cape Santiago. In view of the intense opposition to the cession, the Japanese judged that military force would be necessary to gain control of the island.
On 2 June the Imperial Commissioner Li Jingfang, who had been one of the Chinese representatives at the Shimonoseki Peace Conference, arrived off Keelung (Jilong) to act as China's plenipotentiary. The same day Governor-General Kabayama and Commissioner Li met on board ship and concluded the formal handover of Taiwan to Japan. On 5 June, the Japanese army occupied Keelung and the following day entered Taipei. On 17 June the Office of the Governor-General carried out an official 'Inauguration Ceremony' and proclaimed Taiwan to be Japanese territory (Document 6).
The army of the Republic of Formosa launched repeated attacks on the Japanese troops at Cape Santiago and Keelung but were unable to stop their advance. Faced with this situation, on 6 June President Tang, commanding the army in the north of Taiwan, and a succession of other leaders of the Republic, escaped to the Chinese mainland. As a result, Chinese control of the Republic's army broke down and the Japanese were able to march unopposed into Taipei (Document 7).
From then on the fighting continued between the Japanese and local militia (Xu Shikai (Koh Se-kai), Nihon tōchika no Taiwan : teikō to dan'atsu [Formosa under the Japanese rule : resistance and suppression], Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 1972, p.49). President Tang's replacement as leader of the Republic of Formosa and its armed forces was Liu Yung-fu (Liu Yongfu), previously General of the Formosan army, who enjoyed strong popular support thanks to his actions during the Sino-French war of 1884-1885. General Liu himself maintained his base in Tainan on the south-west coast of Taiwan and from there directed fighting against the Japanese across the island.
The battle front moves south
Although Governor-General Kabayama had occupied Taipei and established systematic control by means of the Office of the Governor-General, there was still great opposition from the Taiwanese people. Kabayama requested reinforcements from Japan and continued to fight his way south towards Tainan, the stronghold of the Republic of Formosa.
At Hsinchu, located south-west of Taipei on the west coast of northern Taiwan, units of the former Chinese army as well as large numbers of volunteer militia had assembled and on 20 June they joined battle with the advancing Japanese. On 22 June the Japanese entered Hsinchu but were surrounded by the militia and fierce fighting continued for some time in the region from Taipei to Hsinchu (Document 8). However, on 25 June the Japanese managed to recapture Hsinchu.
The Japanese continued their advance south, fighting actions in various locations. On 29 August Changhua, a city on the west coast of Taiwan, one of the key military bases in the centre of the Republic, also came under Japanese occupation (Document 9). The Formosans committed a great deal of military force to the Battle of Changhua in an effort to halt the Japanese advance. This resulted in heavy casualties and the remaining Formosan troops had no choice but to retreat. The succession of battles also took a heavy toll on the Japanese and after the Battle of Changhua, they had to pause their advance to allow time for the soldiers to recuperate and for the arrival of reinforcements.
The fall of Tainan and the collapse of the Republic of Formosa
The units of the Formosan army which had retreated during the Battle of Changhua established their next stronghold at Chiayi, further south and inland, roughly halfway between Changhua and Tainan. From there they linked up with militia from the surrounding regions and launched repeated attacks on the Japanese forces still in Changhua (see Harada Keiichi, Sensō no Nihon shi 19 : Nisshin sensō [Military history of Japan. 19 : Sino-Japanese War], Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2008, p.279).
Meanwhile the Japanese army continued its advance south and on 16 September Governor-General Kabayama ordered the formation of the Southern Expeditionary Army (Japanese: Nanshingun) with the aim of attacking and capturing Tainan, the base for the Formosan army and General Liu Yung-fu. The Southern Expeditionary Army was composed of the Imperial Guards, who had been continually involved in the fighting up to this point, the 4th Mixed Brigade which was in the area around Keelung, and the 2nd Division from the Liaodong Peninsula (Document 10) on the Chinese mainland.
On 9 October the Japanese Imperial Guards, who had marched south from Changhua, launched an attack on Chiayi, the Formosan army's stronghold, and the city fell before the day was out (Document 11).
On 10 and 11 October the Mixed 4th Brigade began to come ashore at a harbour called Po-te-chui to the north-west of Tainan (opposite Penghu Island) while the 2nd Division landed on the coast to the west of Fangliao, south-east of Tainan. Fierce fighting ensued as the Formosan forces bombarded the Japanese from the batteries at the landing sites while the Japanese responded with fire from their warships. The Formosan units later fell back and the two Japanese detachments were able to complete their landings. At the same time the Imperial Guards in Chiayi resumed their advance southwards and so the Japanese forces were able to approach Tainan from three different directions (Document 12).
Before the Japanese attack on Tainan began, General Liu Yung-fu, leader of the Republic of Formosa and its army, who was staying in the city, escaped during the night of the 19 October and the next day crossed to Xiamen on the Chinese mainland. As a result the detachments of the former Chinese army lost their cohesion and so on 21 October part of the Japanese 2nd Division was able to enter Tainan without a shot being fired.
The next day, 22 October, the headquarters of the Southern Expeditionary Army also entered Tainan and the area came under Japanese military occupation. The remaining units of the former Chinese army surrendered and were sent back to the Chinese mainland soon afterwards (Harada Keiichi, Sensō no Nihon shi 19 : Nisshin sensō [Military history of Japan. 19 : Sino-Japanese War], Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2008, p.280), (Xu Shikai (Koh Se-kai), Nihon tōchika no Taiwan : teikō to dan'atsu [Formosa under the Japanese rule : resistance and suppression], Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 1972, p.56). With the fall of its stronghold and the loss of its leader, the Republic of Formosa effectively collapsed and all organised activity ceased. On 18 November Governor-General Kabayama reported the pacification of Taiwan (Document 13).
On 1 November 1897 the 'Regulations of Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan' came into force and reorganised the Office of the Governor-General (Document 14). For the next 50 years Taiwan would be under Japanese rule.
- Document 1
- Reference Code： C06021921300 Title： From Imperial General Headquarters. Implementation of 4 tables giving order of battle, composition of headquarters etc. of the Mixed Detachments
- This document from 1 February 1895 relates to the Imperial General Headquarters' creation of the Mixed Detachment. Image 15 is a table showing the order of battle (i.e. the formation during military action). Image 16 onwards shows organisational tables of the headquarters and the individual units making up the Mixed Detachments.
- Document 2
- Reference Code： C06062210400 Title： Detailed battle report of the Mixed Detachment on Penghu Island 23-24 March 1895
- Record by the Mixed Detachment of the fighting on Penghu Island from 23 to 24 March 1895.
- Document 3
- Reference Code： C11080826800 Title： March 27, 1895 Telegraph Cholera outbreak in 3 steamships from Kagoshima, Jinzhou and Shibata
- A report dated 27 March 1895 sent by Senior Army Surgeon (Second Class) Yamauchi Seisen in Ma-kung (Magong) on Penghu Island to Ishiguro Tadanori, Chief Field Medical Officer, in Japan, informing him of an outbreak of cholera-like symptoms among troops en route to the island.
- Document 4
- Reference Code： C06060321000 Title： April 13, From Hishijima Yoshiteru, commander of the Mixed Detachment, to Prince Akihito, Chief of General Staff Office, on the need for soldiers and coolies to restore fighting strength
- A report dated 13 April 1895 sent by Colonel Hishijima Yoshiteru, commander of the Mixed Detachment, to Prince Akihito, Chief of Staff in Japan. It describes the casualties caused by cholera and requests reinforcements of soldiers and porters.
- Document 5
- Reference Code： C13110328000 Title： The topography of Taiwan / History of Taiwan
- Part of a report compiled in May 1896 by the surgeon of the Imperial Guards describing the climate and population of Taiwan. Image 1 shows the section entitled 'History of Taiwan' which explained the various institutional and industrial changes that had occurred in Taiwan in recent years.
- Document 6
- Reference Code： C11081224800 Title： Taiwanese Navy News 7th Issue 8th Issue
- Naval reports on activities of Japanese forces in Taiwan. Image 11 is a report of 17 June 1895 stating that on this day the Office of the Governor-General planned to hold the official inauguration ceremony.
- Document 7
- Reference Code： C06062210700 Title： Governor-General Kabayama to Prime Minister Itō. 6 June. Landed. Set up Office of Governor-General in former Customs House
- Telegram dated 6 June (presumably 1895 judging from surrounding documents) sent by the Governor-General of Taiwan Kabayama Sukenori in Keelung to Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi in Japan. He reports that there was no sign of Taiwanese forces in Taipei and the Japanese army had entered the city that morning.
- Document 8
- Reference Code： C06062210700 Title： Detailed battle report of the Imperial Guards stationed in northern Taiwan for 10-23 July 1895
- Record by the Imperial Guards giving details of the series of military engagements fought in the north of Taiwan from 10 to 23 July including battles around Hsinchu on 10 and 23 July.
- Document 9
- Reference Code： C06060458300 Title： August 29, from Tsujimura Kusuzō, Deputy Chief, Supervision Department, Imperial Guard, to Baron Noda Hiromichi, Director of Field Operations. Interim report of Supervision Department, Imperial Guard
- Reports sent by Tsujimura Kusuzō, Deputy Chief, Supervision Department, Imperial Guard in Changhua, to Noda Hiromichi, Inspector of Field Operations. From the end of August to the beginning of September 1895. Image 1 onwards shows the report sent on 29 August which describes the state of the Imperial Guards' food supplies and other provisions after the Battle of Changhua. Image 4 onwards shows the report sent on 1 September giving the movements of the Imperial Guards from before the Battle of Changhua.
- Document 10
- Reference Code： C11080843200 Title： Daisan no. 111. 1 October 1895. Telegram. Southern Expeditionary Army plan of operations
- Telegram sent on 1 October 1895 by Major General Ōshima Hisanao, Chief of Staff of the Southern Expeditionary Army, to Lieutenant General Kawakami Sōroku of the General Staff at Imperial General Headquarters in Japan. It sets out the plan of operations whereby the Imperial Guards, the Mixed 4th Brigade and the 2nd Division, which together made up the Southern Expeditionary Army, would attack Tainan from three different directions.
- Document 11
- Reference Code： C06061983100 Title： October 12. Interim report on the supply situation of the Imperial Guards. Chief, Supervision Department, Imperial Guard
- Report sent on 16 October 1895 by Kurokawa Hideyuki, Head of the Inspection Department of the Imperial Guards, after their capture of Chiayi, to Noda Hiromichi, Inspector of Field Operations. It contains details of the situation of the Imperial Guards following their entry into Chiayi, in particular the state of supplies and provisions.
- Document 12
- Reference Code： C06061982500 Title： October 19. Southern Expeditionary Army Headquarters. Plans for landing at Po-te-chui and attack on Tainan. Governor-General Kabayama
- Telegram sent on 19 October 1895 by the Governor-General of Taiwan, Kabayama Sukenori, to the Chief of the Army General Staff, Imperial General Headquarters in Japan. It gives the current situation of the various components of the Southern Expeditionary Army, the Imperial Guards, Mixed 4th Brigade and 2nd Division, in the planned attack on Tainan.
- Document 13
- Reference Code： C11080779700 Title： November 18, 1895 Telegram Report of Governor General Kabayama
- Telegram dated 18 November 1895 sent by the Governor-General of Taiwan, Kabayama Sukenori, to the Chief of the Army General Staff, Imperial General Headquarters in Japan. With the sentence 'Peace has been restored throughout the island' he reports the end of hostilities and the pacification of Taiwan.
- Document 14
- Reference Code： A03020310400 Title： Original script signed by the Emperor and 1897 Imperial Ordinance No.362 Enacting the Government Organization of Government General of Taiwan, and abolition of the Bylaw of the Government General of Taiwan, the Government Organization of the Welfare Bureau of the Government General of Taiwan, the Government Organization of the Military Affairs Bureau of the Government General of Taiwan and the Government Organization of the Civil Engineering Bureau of the Government General of Taiwan
- Text of the 'Regulations of Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan' which were established on 13 October and came into force on 1 November 1897.