Political divisions of Taiwan (1895–1945)

Taiwan was under Japanese rule after the First Sino-Japanese War, as per the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895. There were still several changes until the Japanese political system was adopted in 1920.


Administrative divisions of Taiwan by types and times. Like the administrative divisions in mainland Japan, most of them are translated to "prefectures" in English.

Number of divisions
Start date End date Timespan Summary Start date End date Timespan Summary
May 1895 Aug 1895 3 3 Ken, 1 Chō May 1901 Nov 1901 7 3 Ken, 4 Chō
Aug 1895 Mar 1896 7 1 Ken, 2 Minseishibu, 1 Chō Nov 1901 Oct 1909 95 20 Chō
Apr 1896 Jun 1897 15 3 Ken, 1 Chō Oct 1909 Aug 1920 130 12 Chō
Jun 1897 Jun 1898 12 6 Ken, 3 Chō Sep 1920 Jun 1926 70 5 Shū, 2 Chō
Jun 1898 Apr 1901 34 3 Ken, 3 Chō Jul 1926 Oct 1945 232 5 Shū, 3 Chō
Types of the divisions
Name Kanji Kana
Ken けん
Shū しゅう
Chō ちょう
Minseishibu 民政支部 みんせいしぶ

Early years (1895–1901)Edit

The political divisions changed frequently between 1895 and 1901.

Date May. 1895 – Aug. 1895 Aug. 1895 – Mar. 1896 Mar. 1896 – Jun. 1897
Names Taihoku Ken 臺北縣 たいほくけん Taihoku Ken 臺北縣 たいほくけん Taihoku Ken 臺北縣 たいほくけん
Taiwan Ken 臺灣縣 たいわんけん Taiwan Minseishibu 臺灣民政支部 たいわんみんせいしぶ Taichū Ken 臺中縣 たいちゅうけん
Tainan Ken 臺南縣 たいなんけん Tainan Minseishibu 臺南民政支部 たいなんみんせいしぶ Tainan Ken 臺南縣 たいなんけん
Hōkotō Chō 澎湖島廳 ほうことうちょう Hōkotō Chō 澎湖島廳 ほうことうちょう Hōkotō Chō 澎湖島廳 ほうことうちょう
Div. No. 3 Ken, 1 Chō 1 Ken, 2 Minseishibu, 1 Chō 3 Ken, 1 Chō
Date Jun. 1897 – Jun. 1898 Jun. 1898 – Apr. 1901 May. 1901 – Nov. 1901
Names Taihoku Ken 臺北縣 たいほくけん Taihoku Ken 臺北縣 たいほくけん Taihoku Ken 臺北縣 たいほくけん
Shinchiku Ken 新竹縣 しんちくけん
Taichū Ken 臺中縣 たいちゅうけん Taichū Ken 臺中縣 たいちゅうけん Taichū Ken 臺中縣 たいちゅうけん
Kagi Ken 嘉義縣 かぎけん
Tainan Ken 臺南縣 たいなんけん Tainan Ken 臺南縣 たいなんけん Tainan Ken 臺南縣 たいなんけん
Hōzan Ken 鳳山縣 ほうざんけん Kōshun Chō 恆春廳 こうしゅんちょう
Giran Chō 宜蘭廳 ぎらんちょう Giran Chō 宜蘭廳 ぎらんちょう Giran Chō 宜蘭廳 ぎらんちょう
Taitō Chō 臺東廳 たいとうちょう Taitō Chō 臺東廳 たいとうちょう Taitō Chō 臺東廳 たいとうちょう
Hōko Chō 澎湖廳 ほうこちょう Hōko Chō 澎湖廳 ほうこちょう Hōko Chō 澎湖廳 ほうこちょう
Div. No. 6 Ken, 3 Chō 3 Ken, 3 Chō 3 Ken, 4 Chō

Chō (1901–1920)Edit

The former system was abolished 11 November 1901, and twenty local administrative offices (chō) were established.[1] Usage of Ken divisions was discontinued.

Structural hierarchyEdit

Administrative divisions of Taiwan in 1901.[2] The red line marks the approximate boundary separating savage district and territories under actual Japanese administration.
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
支廳 shichō


Nov. 1901 – Oct. 1909 Oct. 1909 – Aug. 1920
Taihoku Chō 臺北廳 たいほくちょう Taihoku Chō 臺北廳 たいほくちょう
Kīrun Chō 基隆廳 きいるんちょう
Shinkō Chō 深坑廳 しんこうちょう
Giran Chō 宜蘭廳 ぎらんちょう
Giran Chō 宜蘭廳 ぎらんちょう
Tōshien Chō 桃仔園廳 とうしえんちょう Tōen Chō 桃園廳 とうえんちょう
Shinchiku Chō 新竹廳 しんちくちょう Shinchiku Chō 新竹廳 しんちくちょう
Byōritsu Chō 苗栗廳 びょうりつちょう
Taichū Chō 臺中廳 たいちゅうちょう
Taichū Chō 臺中廳 たいちゅうちょう
Shōka Chō 彰化廳 しょうかちょう
Nantō Chō 南投廳 なんとうちょう Nantō Chō 南投廳 なんとうちょう
Toroku Chō 斗六廳 とろくちょう
Kagi Chō 嘉義廳 かぎちょう
Kagi Chō 嘉義廳 かぎちょう
Ensuikō Chō 鹽水港廳 えんすいこうちょう
Tainan Chō 臺南廳 たいなんちょう
Tainan Chō 臺南廳 たいなんちょう
Hōzan Chō 鳳山廳 ほうざんちょう
Banshoryō Chō 蕃薯寮廳 ばんしょりょうちょう Akō Chō 阿緱廳 あこうちょう
Akō Chō 阿猴廳 あこうちょう
Kōshun Chō 恆春廳 こうしゅんちょう
Taitō Chō 臺東廳 たいとうちょう Taitō Chō 臺東廳 たいとうちょう
Karenkō Chō 花蓮港廳 かれんこうちょう
Hōko Chō 澎湖廳 ほうこちょう Hōko Chō 澎湖廳 ほうこちょう
20 Chō 12 Chō
  • Shinkō, Byōritsu, Toroku, Ensuikō were split and merge with the two Chō in the right.


Population of Formosa according to census taken 31 December 1904, arranged by district.[3]

Shū and Chō (1920–1945)Edit

Political division of Taiwan
Second level political division of Taiwan
  Cities / (shi, chhī)
  Districts / (gun, kūn)
  Subprefectures / 支廳 (shichō, chi-thiaⁿ)

Under a "Dōka policy" (同化) in which the Japanese considered the Taiwanese to be separate but equal, the political divisions in Taiwan became similar to the system used in mainland Japan in 1920.

Structural hierarchyEdit

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
shū (5)
chō (3)
shi (11)
大字 ōaza 小字 koaza
gun (51)
支廳 shichō (2)
gai (67)
Aboriginal Area
蕃地 banchi


Name Kanji Kana No. of Subdivisions Wade–Giles
City District Subp.
Taihoku Prefecture 臺北州 たいほくしゅう 3 9 Taipei
Shinchiku Prefecture 新竹州 しんちくしゅう 1 8 Hsinchu
Taichū Prefecture 臺中州 たいちゅうしゅう 2 11 Taichung
Tainan Prefecture 臺南州 たいなんしゅう 2 10 Tainan
Takao Prefecture 高雄州 たかおしゅう 2 7 Kaohsiung
Karenkō Prefecture 花蓮港廳 かれんこうちょう 1 3 Hualien Port
Taitō Prefecture 臺東廳 たいとうちょう 3 Taitung
Hōko Prefecture 澎湖廳 ほうこちょう 2 Penghu
  • Hōko Prefecture was divided from Takao Prefecture in 1926


There were 11 cities in Taiwan in 1945. Most of them are still the most populous municipalities in the country today. The ōaza (大字) in the city center may be named chō (町).

Prefecture Name Kanji Kana Wade–Giles Prefecture Name Kanji Kana Wade–Giles
Taihoku Taihoku City 臺北市 たいほくし Taipei Tainan Tainan City 臺南市 たいなんし Tainan
Kīrun City 基隆市 きいるんし Keelung Kagi City 嘉義市 かぎし Chiayi
Giran City 宜蘭市 ぎらんし Yilan Takao Takao City 高雄市 たかおし Kaohsiung
Shinchiku Shinchiku City 新竹市 しんちくし Hsinchu Heitō City 屏東市 へいとうし Pingtung
Taichū Taichū City 臺中市 たいちゅうし Taichung Karenkō Karenkō City 花蓮港市 かれんこうし Hualien
Shōka City 彰化市 しょうかし Changhua


The 1941 (Shōwa 16) census of Taiwan was 6,249,468. 93.33% of the population were Taiwanese which consisted of both Han Chinese and "civilized" Taiwanese aborigines. Tainan had the largest population followed by Taichū and Taihoku. The largest concentration of ethnic Japanese were in Taihoku followed by Takao and Tainan.

Area Japanese Taiwanese Korean Other Total
Taihoku Prefecture 153,928 1,053,372 1,051 25,531 1,233,882
Shinchiku Prefecture 20,693 815,274 150 1,894 838,011
Taichū Prefecture 46,371 1,329,620 333 3,863 1,380,187
Tainan Prefecture 53,446 1,489,621 253 7,375 1,550,695
Takao Prefecture 59,633 863,313 598 6,839 930,383
Karenkō Prefecture 20,914 130,720 119 2,032 153,785
Taitō Prefecture 7,078 85,068 35 957 93,138
Hōko Prefecture 3,619 65,694   74 69,387
Total 365,682 5,832,682 2,539 48,565 6,249,468
Percentage 5.85% 93.33% 0.04% 0.78% 100%

Changes in 1945Edit

When the Republic of China began to rule Taiwan in 1945, the government simply changed the names of the divisions, and named the Aboriginal areas.

Before After
Level Name Character Japanese
Name Character Mandarin
1 Prefecture shū chiu County xiàn koān 1
chō thiaⁿ
2 City shi chhī Provincial city shì chhī
County-administered city 縣轄市 xiànxiáshì koān-hat-chhī 2
District gun kūn County-controlled district [zh] 縣轄區 xiànxiáqū koān-hat-khu
Subprefecture 支廳 shichō chi-thiaⁿ
3 Town gai ke Urban township zhèn tìn 3
Village tsng Rural township xiāng hiong
Aboriginal areas 蕃地 banchi huan-tē Mountain indigenous township [zh] 山地鄕 shāndì xiāng suaⁿ-tē hiong

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Davidson (1903), pp. 597–8: "In place of the former system, which divided the island into 3 prefectures and 3 prefectures of second class, and which was abolished November 11th, 1901, local administrative offices known as "Cho" have been established at the following points: Taihoku, Kelung, Giran (Gilan), Shinko (Chim-hua), Toshien (Tao-hong), Shinchiku (Teck-cham), Bioritsu (Maoli), Taichu, Shoka (Chang-wha), Nanto (Nam-tau), Toroku (Tau-lak), Kagi, Yensuiko (Kiam-tsui kang), Tainan, Banshorio (Han-chu-liao), Hozan (Fang-shan), Ako (A-kau), Koshun (Heng-chun), Taito (Tai-tong), and Boko (Pang-hoo). The Administrative or District Offices (Cho) are in charge of chiefs of Sonin rank, who are assisted by clerks, police inspectors, assistant experts, interpreters, and assistant police, all of Hannin rank. These officers of Hannin rank number 1230 for the whole island. The administration of Formosa, under the direction and superintendence of the Governor General, is entrusted to these district offices."
  2. ^ Davidson (1903), map.
  3. ^ Takekoshi (1907), p. 199.


  • Davidson, James W. (1903). "Chapter XXXI: Formosa of To-day". The Island of Formosa, Past and Present : history, people, resources, and commercial prospects : tea, camphor, sugar, gold, coal, sulphur, economical plants, and other productions. London and New York: Macmillan. OCLC 1887893. OL 6931635M.
  • Takekoshi, Yosaburō (1907). "Chapter XIII: Population and future development of the island resources". Japanese rule in Formosa. London, New York, Bombay and Calcutta: Longmans, Green, and co. OCLC 753129. OL 6986981M.