munsterhjelm on corporations and taiwan


Mark Munsterhjelm, ‘Corporate protectors of state sovereignty: Mitsubishi’s and a Taiwan affiliate’s accounts of relations with Taiwan Aborigines’, Asian Ethnicity 15, 3 (2014).

This paper compares two related corporations’ accounts of enacting sovereignty with Taiwan Aborigines. First, Mitsubishi corporate webpage histories constitute mythic origin narratives about how their patriotic founder, Yataro Iwasaki, helped the Japanese government transport munitions and troops to Taiwan in 1874 and the government rewarded him with 30 ships, starting their close relationship. These narratives about this state-centred assemblage omit why Japan sent the military expedition, which ostensibly was a punitive expedition against Paiwan Aborigines for the 1871 massacre of 54 Ryukyu Islanders, but was actually part of the new Meiji state’s annexation of the Ryukyu Islands. Second, it analyses the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines which was founded in 1994 by the wealthy chair of the Shung Ye Group, a Taiwan-based Mitsubishi-affiliated conglomerate. The museum is a private assemblage organized around hero narratives in which the chair demonstrates his patriotism by rescuing Taiwan Aborigines and their cultures. The museum contributes to the Taiwan-centred identity project which challenges One-China sovereignty claims over Taiwan.

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