Sunday, June 20, 2010

Museum of the War of 1895

For Taiwanese, the key term of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the Sino-Japanese War of 1894—95, was the ceding to the Japanese Empire of Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. Japanese rule lasted half a century.

Tens of thousands of Taiwanese took up arms when Japan tried to take possession of their new colony; a Republic of Formosa was declared on May 23 1895. Six days later, Japanese forces landed east of Keelung. Between early June and late August major battles were fought in Sanxia, Hsinchu, Dajia and, decisively, at Changhua.

The Museum of the War of 1895, located inside a Cold War bomb shelter on Changhua Mount Bagua, tells the story of Japan's military takeover and the resistance they faced. Unfortunately, the museum is entirely in Chinese with the exception of the official English-language version of Japan's official proclamation that it was taking control of Taiwan (it promises "all inhabitants of the ceded territory peacefully fully pursuing their ordinary and lawful avocations will receive full and constant protection"). There are very few artifacts from the era; even the Republic of Formosa postage stamps are reproductions (as of a decade ago, originals could be bought from stamp dealers in Taipei).

People who don't read Chinese can pick up a useful English-language leaflet.

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