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Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium$
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Susan L. Burns and Barbara J. Brooks

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824837150

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824837150.001.0001

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Sim-pua under the Colonial Gaze

Sim-pua under the Colonial Gaze

Gender, “Old Customs,” and the Law in Taiwan under Japanese Imperialism

(p.189) Chapter 7 Sim-pua under the Colonial Gaze
Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium

Chen Chao-ju

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines tensions in Japanese colonial legal policy toward the widespread Taiwanese custom of sim-pua marriage, whereby a girl was adopted at a very young age and raised in the family of her intended husband and then married in her teens to that adoptive brother. It contextualizes colonial policy toward this practice within the debate on whether the Japanese civil code should be extended to Taiwan. In the aftermath of the 1923 decision to continue to use customary law to rule on family matters, courts struggled to reconcile the “civilizing mission” that authorized Japanese colonial rule with the requirement to respect custom. Through the careful reading of cases, this chapter explores how sim-pua, their natal families, and adoptive brothers/would-be husbands used the colonial courts to assert their agency.

Keywords:   sim-pua, Japanese colonial legal policy, colonial courts, customary law, family matters

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