Neo-colonialism or Cultural Infatuation? Japan as an Alternative Angle for Understanding Taiwan

November 24, 2017

As a historical legacy of the Chinese civil war, modern day Taiwan is arguably one of the most fascinating puzzles of our time. Despite the fact that mainstream historians and observers tend to identify Taiwan as a nation dominated by the Han ethnicity – a characteristic comparable to China – Taiwan remains unique and highly distinguishable from other Chinese societies in terms of the considerable level of Japanese culture embedded in its society. Since 2011, the Japanese atmosphere in Taiwan has greatly heightened, to the point that in certain locales, distinguishing between Taiwan and Japan may be difficult at times.

What is at the root of Japan’s burgeoning cultural influence in Taiwan? Is Japan re-commencing a charm offensive in Taiwan, or are the Taiwanese simply infatuated by Japanese culture?

Based on first hand observation of everyday life in current day Taiwan from restaurants to daily commodities, this talk explores the “Japanese-ness” of Taiwan and ponders over the possibility of understanding Taiwan from the somewhat curious perspective of Japan.


Dr. Tony Tai-Ting Liu is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Graduate Institute of International Politics, National Chung Hsing University. He completed both his master and doctoral studies at the same institute and earned a bachelor degree in International Relations at the University of British Columbia. He previously held visiting research positions at Keio University (Japan), Australian Catholic University (Australia), and the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan, University of Tuebingen (Germany). He is the lead translator of Playing with Fire: The Looming War with China over Taiwan (2017) by Taiwan specialist John F. Copper.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

3:30 - 5:00 pm

SFU Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings Street
2270 Sauder Industries Policy Room

Please register here.


  • David See-chai Lam Centre
  • Taiwan Studies Group
  • Department of History