The Decision to Go to Taiwan
This chapter explains how debates over foreign policy—especially the dispute over whether to “chastise Korea” (Seikanron)—split the government at the end of 1873. The dispute over Korea disrupted plans for the expedition to Taiwan and sparked a rebellion against the government early in 1874, but despite the rebellion the government united, if narrowly, behind a new and more specific plan for the expedition. The plan envisioned carrying out the Japanese colonization of the indigenous territory of Taiwan in the name of bringing civilization to the “savages” who lived there. Ongoing disputes about what imperial authority meant and how it ought to be exercised, as well as unexpectedly strong Western opposition, complicated the dispatch of the expeditionary force late in the spring of 1874.