Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Colonisation and Aboriginal Land Tenure: Taiwan during the Qing Period (1684-1895) and the Japanese Period (1895-1945)

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posted on 2021-11-22, 01:55 authored by Ruiping YeRuiping Ye

This thesis is concerned with the land rights of the aboriginal peoples of Taiwan. It explores how under the Qing (1684-1895) and Japanese (1895-1945) regimes, laws and policies regarding aboriginal land in Taiwan resulted in aboriginal land tenure changes and loss of land. The thesis also explores how the respective legal systems and legal cultures of the Qing and Japanese states influenced policy-making concerning aboriginal land.  The thesis examines the different effects of the Qing and Japanese administrations on aboriginal land tenure in Taiwan. It analyses Qing policies towards land settlement in Taiwan, the extent of the government’s recognition and protection of aboriginal land rights, the changes that the distinctive Qing property law regime, including the Chinese customary land practice, brought to aboriginal land tenure, and the aborigines’ interaction with the government and settlers regarding their land. To a lesser extent and as a comparison, the thesis then discusses the Japanese government’s attitudes towards the aborigines and aboriginal land tenure, and Japan’s reforms of land tenure in Taiwan.  The thesis puts the study of Taiwan aboriginal land policies into the wider framework of the administration of Taiwan by two governments whose legal systems were quite different: the Qing government, which in many respects was a traditional Chinese imperial regime, and Japan, which by the time it colonised Taiwan had reformed its law along European lines and which was considered to be a modern and European-style state. Ultimately, this thesis attempts to find out what role the Qing legal system played in shaping the policies and in the transformation of aboriginal land tenure, and how the Japanese legal system, largely westernised after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, influenced Japanese policies regarding aboriginal land in Taiwan. Thus a central concern of the thesis is the connection between law and colonial policy.  This thesis concludes that the Qing colonisation of Taiwan was different from the later Japanese colonisation of Taiwan and from Western styles of colonisation. Shaped by its legal culture, constitutional framework, administrative system and property law regime, the Qing government had very little or no intention and took little action to transform aboriginal land tenure. Rather the Qing legal tradition allowed for or enabled Chinese settlers to manipulate aboriginal land tenure and impose Chinese culture on the aborigines, an effect often unintended by the government. In contrast, Japan colonised Taiwan with a specific intention to exploit the resources of the island and thus the government played a strong role in changing aboriginal land tenure in Taiwan.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



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Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Boast, Richard; Angelo, Tony; Campbell, Duncan