Goto Shinpei

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  • Birth: 1857
  • Death: 1929
  • Japanese: 後藤新平 (Gotou Shinpei)

Gotô Shinpei was the third Chief of Home Affairs on Taiwan. Along with Governor-General of Taiwan Kodama Gentarô, he helped oversee the first colonial administration of Taiwan that set organized policies.

A medical doctor trained in Germany and well-read in scholarly literature on colonialism, Gotô advocated colonial administration based on scientific principles and extensive research, e.g. into local customs and conditions. He explicitly described Taiwan as a colonial laboratory, and the Governor-General's office as a sort of research university, and saw much of what he and his administration did as experiments in social engineering, and in controlling the political and economic environment of the colony.

He also took examples of British colonialism as models for rule, building up Taipei into a grand European-style capital, with impressive Western-style government buildings. This, he said would help serve to display Japanese power and authority, and to inspire awe in the Taiwanese. He also established an elite British-style "character-building" prep school in Taipei for Japanese, but this project did not last.[1]

Among Gotô's many reforms was the revival of a traditional Chinese village system known as bǎojiǎ (保甲, J: hokô), which was used to maintain the peace alongside the official police system, as well as for a variety of local administrative tasks, including information gathering, the search and seizure of those suspected of planning uprisings, and as militias. While this was not expanded to other parts of the empire, Japanese officials drew upon the experiment with the baojia system in Taiwan to later appropriate or make use of traditional leadership structures in other regions.[2]

By 1908, Gotô was no longer in Taiwan, and now served as president of the South Manchuria Railway Company.[3]

In 1911-1912, three statues of Gotô, by sculptor Ôkuma Ujihiro, were erected in Taipei, Taichung, and Tainan.[4]


  • Mark Peattie, "Japanese Attitudes toward Colonialism, 1895-1945," in Peattie and Ramon Myers (eds.), The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945, Princeton University Press (1984), 83-85.
  1. Peattie, 88.
  2. Peattie, 27-28.
  3. Peattie, 86.
  4. Suzuki Eka, "Building Statues of Japanese Governors: Monumental Bronze Sculptures and Colonial Cooperation in Taiwan under Japanese Rule," presentation at 2013 UCSB International Conference on Taiwan Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, 7 Dec 2013.