Russian Japanology Review

Advanced search

Historical Memory and Its Influence on Relations between Tokyo and Taipei under President Ma Ying-jeou (2008-2016)

Full Text:


Taiwan, a former colony of Japan (1895-1945), for a number of different factors still remains the only region in the world that does not place emphasis on the negative sides of a rather long period of Japanese colonial rule. Problems of the historical past do not directly affect the development of traditionally close relations between Japan and Taiwan, but they play an important role in forming the “Taiwanese identity” and are closely related to the current issues of the foreign and domestic policies of the Republic of China. The ongoing feud between Mainland China and Taiwan, coupled with the current international political situation, also has an effect on the assessment by the Taiwanese of their colonial past and the policies of the Japanese Empire in the first half of the 20th century, and the perception of contemporary Japan in Taiwan. The article discusses the approaches of Taiwanese authorities to problems of the historical past under President Ma Ying-jeou (2008-2016) - a period when the Kuomintang built up equally good relations with Japan and China on the basis of the new conception of “Taiwanese identity”. Making efforts to reconcile the pro-unification and pro-independence parties, the president tried to form in Taiwanese society a balanced approach to the understanding of the Japanese and Chinese periods of Taiwan’s history, as well as the role of Japan in the development of the modern Republic of China. Calling himself “the best friend of Japan”, Ma Ying-jeou continued to strengthen ties between Tokyo and Taipei, and at the same time took a hard-line stance on the territorial dispute with Japan - the issue of sovereignty over the Diaoyudao (釣魚島)/Senkaku islands (or Diaoyutai islands 釣魚臺 as they are called in Taiwan), which appeared again on the agenda of Japan-Taiwan relations. However, the issues of the historical past during the Ma Ying-jeou era did not hamper the development of cooperation between Tokyo and Taipei, and, in 2008-2016, the image of Japan in Taiwan remained constantly positive.

About the Author

V. A. Perminova
Institute of Oriental Studies of RAS; Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation
Russian Federation


1. Chen Mumin (2013). Balancing or Bandwagoning? Taiwan’s Role in Sino-Japan Relations, in Rose, C. & Teo, V. (eds.), The United States between China and Japan, New Castle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 320-344.

2. Gordeyeva, I. V. (2012). Ob osobennostyakh sovremennoy pozitsii YAponii v otnoshenii Tayvanya [About Japan’s contemporary attitude to Taiwan], Far Eastern Affairs, 1: 38-48. (In Russian)

3. Gordeyeva, I. V. (2015). Politika Yaponii v otnoshenii Tayvanya: istoriya i sovremennost’ [Japan’s policy toward Taiwan: history and present] / Diss. PhD (History). Moscow. (In Russian)

4. He Yinan (2014). Identity Politics and Foreign Policy: Taiwan’s Relations with China and Japan, 1895-2012, Political Science Quarterly, 129 (3): pp. 469-500.

5. Hoppens, R. (2018). Japan-Taiwan Relations under Abe and Tsai in Historical Context, in Arthur, A. (ed.), Expert Voices on Japan: Security, Economic, Social and Foreign Policy Recommendations, U.S.-Japan Network for the Future Cohort IV, Washington D. C.: The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation: pp. 49-64.

6. Jia Chaowei (2011). Ri tai guan xi de li shi he xian zhuang [Relations between Japan and Taiwan: history and present], Beijing: Hua yi chu ban she. (In Chinese)

7. Kireyeva, A. A. (2013). Yapono-kitayskiy spor: Senkaku ili Dyaoyuydao? [Sino-Japanese dispute: Senkaku or Diaoyudao?], Asia and Africa Today, 10: pp. 2-9.

8. Suzuki, S. (2011). The Competition to Attain Justice for Past Wrongs: The “Comfort Women” Issue in Taiwan, Pacific Affairs, 84(2): pp. 223-244.

9. Teng xun xin wen (2012). Tai wan bao diao chuan jin ru diao yu dao hai yu, xiang ri han hua: zhe shi tai wan ling tu [Taiwanese baodiao boat entered water area of Diaoyudao islands, claimed to Japanese: this is territory of Taiwan], September 25. Retrieved August 4, 2020, from (In Chinese)

10. (2013). The Implications of the Japan-Taiwan Fisheries Agreement, June 5. Retrieved August 4, 2020, from

11. Xin lang xin wen. (2012). Tai wan bao diao chuan jin ru diao yu dao hai yu [Taiwanese baodiao boats entered water area of Diaoyudao islands], July 5. Retrieved August 4, 2020, from (In Chinese)


For citations:

Perminova V.A. Historical Memory and Its Influence on Relations between Tokyo and Taipei under President Ma Ying-jeou (2008-2016). Russian Japanology Review. 2021;4(1):59-80. (In Russ.)

Views: 57

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ISSN 2658-6444 (Print)
ISSN 2658-6789 (Online)