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Date 2021-04-23


Overcoming “the Measure”: The Imperial Subject Literature and Sakaguchi Reiko’s “To shusen” and “the Te Family”


Takehisa Yasutaka

Associate Professor, Department of Languages and Culture, Hijiyam niversity


The measure” judging the values from superiority to inferiority existed in colonial Taiwan under Japanese ruling. Some Taiwanese gained the gaze of Japanese style through incorporating into this measure. The Imperial subject literature written by Taiwanese reminded them that “we are not Japanese” through the sense of blood. The imperial subject literature is the narrative about how they decided to become volunteer solider to shed the blood for becoming Japanese.

On the other hand, Sakaguchi Reiko, who was praised as “not gazing the islanders and the aborigines with the imperial eyes,” asserted that “the measure” was made by the fragile nerves of Taiwanese themselves in her “To Shusen”. Sakaguchi pointed out that “the measure” can be overcome by self-determination, however, this universal position not only made the reality of colonial rule based on the blood discourse invisible, but reinforced the discourse maintaining the exploited system of racial-discrimination. Besides, in “the Te Family”, “the measure” was based under “the spirits of the whole world under one roof.” Digesting and Japanizing everything with vitality, it not only made Japan swallow Taiwanese culture, but erased the differences between Taiwan and Japan.

It too reinforced the ruling discourse based on the blood with symbolic meaning. We can see how all the ways of overcoming “the measure” in Sakaguchi’s works function as the endorsement of maintaining the system of colonial ruling.

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature