By the end of World War II, hundreds of thousands of young men in colonial Taiwan had expressed their loyalty to the empire by volunteering to join the army. Why and how did so many colonial youth become passionate supporters of Japanese imperial nationalism? This talk will discuss shifting socioeconomic conditions, aspirations, and emotions experienced by village youth in Xinzhu Province to examine the process of mobilization. Through carefully reading and interpreting village and personal sources and oral interviews, it shows how the global rise of youth and agrarian ideals, Japan's imperial drive for assimilation, and local social tensions shaped these youth's worldviews and experiences. This process reveals Japan's ambition to build an empire-wide nation (or what I call nation-empire), and the local receptions of that imperial endeavor.
Sayaka Chatani is Associate Professor at the Department of History, the National University of Singapore. Her works concern social and emotional histories of ideological mobilization in modern East Asia.