Japan’s incoming Prime Minister and his Taiwan connection

Keelung City Mayor Lin Yu-chang was proud to point out today that Fumio Kishida, who is set to become Japan’s 100th prime minister October 4, has an ancestral family connection with the port city.

Fumio Kishida’s great-grandfather established two stores in Keelung City in 1895 and the buildings not only survive, but are well preserved.

Democratic Progressive Party legislator Tsai Shih-ying pointed out the connection in a Facebook post yesterday, explaining that Kitaro Kishida established a Kimono store and a tea shop adjacent to each other at the junction of Xin 2nd Road and Yi 2nd Road in what was known during the Japanese colonial period as Yoshiju Town or “Keelung’s Little Ginza.”

Although Kishida’s great-grandfather returned to Japan in 1899, it is believed that ownership remained in the family as postcards from the 1930s show the stores retained the Kishida family’s name at that time.

The development of Keelung City was powered by the relationship with Japan, as it was the closest port to the rising Asian power. A significant part of the port city’s built cultural heritage is reflective of the period between 1895 and 1945.

The buildings currently house a restaurant and a bookstore.

Both Mayor Lin and legislator Tsai expressed hopes for continuing and closer relations between Japan and Taiwan under the leadership of Japan’s new prime minister.

Japanese colonial era building in Keelung City, Taiwan.
Building today: Picture: Google Maps.
Postcard from 1930s. Picture:  National Cultural Database of the Ministry of Culture

Cover Picture: Lee Teng-hui and Fumio Kishida in 1994 (National History Museum/Academia Historica).

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