Huashan Elementary School
The district in which the Executive Yuan now sits was originally named Huashan, or “Kabayama” in Japanese, after Kabayama Sukenori, the first Japanese governor-general of Taiwan. In the early colonial days, this district was set aside for use by the Fourth Elementary School, succeeded by the Chengbei Elementary School and then Huashan Elementary School in 1911.
During Japanese rule, national schools were categorized as elementary schools, public schools or educational institutions—the first two types under the jurisdiction of the education bureau and the third under the police bureau. The three systems had different curricula, buildings and facilities. Elementary schools accepted mostly Japanese students while the Taiwanese children attended public schools.
Huashan Elementary School was laid out like a military base with an outdoor drill area and several classroom buildings. Twenty meters to the front of the main building was a smaller two-story red-brick structure that originally housed classrooms and later became the first home of the ROC Government Information Office. The building was demolished in the 1970s.
1. Taipei Municipal Office (1940-1945)
On July 30, 1920, the Japanese governor-general of Taiwan declared an administrative division system for the island that would take effect October 1, 1920. On August 10 that year, the office also announced the locations and jurisdictions of the various prefectures, cities and districts. Taipei City was incorporated under Taipei Prefecture, and the Taipei Municipal Office was established September 1, 1920. According to colonialist records published in 1931, Taipei City covered 41.7177 square kilometers at the time with a population of 244,244.
Taipei Prefecture comprised the nine districts of Qixing, Tamsui, Keelung, Yilan, Luodong, Suao, Wenshan, Haishan and Xinzhuang, covering today’s Taipei City, New Taipei City, Yilan County and part of Taoyuan City. The Taipei Prefecture government operated in what is today the Control Yuan building.
The Taipei Municipal Office was the administrative center of the city. In the beginning, it borrowed space from the Huashan Elementary School and hung the sign “Taipei Municipal Office” at the school entrance.
The office gradually expanded to meet Taipei’s increasing administrative needs. Starting with only the general affairs and financial affairs sections in 1920, the organization by 1941 swelled to 17 sections: documents, accounting, general affairs, industrial development, military affairs, defense, tax affairs, academic affairs, social education, social welfare, business development, agriculture, civil engineering, public works, public health, water works and transportation.
In total, Taipei City saw 12 mayors under Japanese rule. Taketohari Goro was the first and longest-serving mayor at four years and three months. Construction of the city office building ran from 1937 through 1940, and the city government operated in the new building thereafter, under mayors Ishii Ryucho and Kihara Enji.
In the early days of colonialism, Taipei had no mayor as it was under direct jurisdiction of the Japanese governor-general of Taiwan. The mayorship was not established until 1920 when Taipei was upgraded to a city and the Taipei Municipal Office created. Taketohari Goro served as the inaugural mayor.
Origins of Taipei Municipal Office
The new Taipei Municipal Office comprised many sections including documents, accounting, general affairs, industrial development, military affairs, defense, tax affairs, academic affairs, social education and business development. It originally operated on the campus of Huashan Elementary School, but as needs expanded, construction began in 1937 on a new office building that would become today’s Executive Yuan Central Building.
Taipei’s most flourishing district during the Qing dynasty was Mengjia (now Wanhua), and later Dadaocheng following conflicts between Fujian and Guangdong immigrants and the opening of Tamsui Port. After Imperial Commissioner Shen Bao-zhen received permission in 1875 to establish Taipei Prefecture in northern Taiwan, builders hired by the Taiwan provincial government began constructing a walled city in 1882 and completed the Taipei Prefecture capital in 1884.
The Executive Yuan now spans Zhongxiao East Road, Zhongshan North Road, Beiping East Road and Tianjin Street, but this bustling area was bare of buildings back in the Qing dynasty. Located outside the northeast limits of the Taipei Prefecture capital, the area was part of Sanbanqiao (Dazhuwei) district, which was covered by ditches and water fields at the time. Nearby was the Taiwan railways headquarters, established by Taiwan’s first Qing governor, Liu Ming-chuan.
After Japan took control of Taiwan in 1895, the colonialists implemented their own urban plans for Taipei and demolished the city walls. In 1904, the colonial government built a three-lane road (now Zhongshan South Road), an imperial envoy road linking Yuanshan Shrine (now the Grand Hotel Taipei), and a three-lane road to Keelung running eastward from Taipei Railway Station (now Zhongxiao East Road). It also designated space inside and east of the city for public buildings, government agencies and schools.
The Japanese administration’s plans for public buildings in Taipei were implemented over several stages.
In the early 1900s, work began with demolition of the city wall. The colonialists then focused on the city’s central and eastern parts and built Taipei Station (1900, now Taipei Railway Station), the Japanese governor-general’s residence (1900, now Taipei Guest House), Taipei Post Office (1919, corner of today’s Boai Road), the Bank of Taiwan (1938) and local courthouses. Urban re-zoning plans were also implemented.
After 1911, the colonialists took to constructing government buildings, including the Central Research Institute of the Governor-General’s Office (1911, now a United Daily News office building), Taipei Prefecture Hall (1915, Control Yuan), a military command headquarters (Coast Guard Administration), the Governor-General Museum (1915, National Taiwan Museum), the Monopoly Bureau (1916, Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau), the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan (1919, Office of the President), the New Park (228 Peace Memorial Park) and Taipei Municipal Office (1937, Executive Yuan Central Building).
The site for the Taipei Municipal Office was determined in the second phase of urban planning. The building was completed in 1940 and the city administrators moved in in 1941. Two mayors, Ishii Ryucho and Kihara Enji, served in this building.
2. Office of the Taiwan Provincial Administration (1945-1947)
After Japan’s surrender to the Allies on August 14, 1945, the Nationalist government appointed Chen Yi as chief executive of Taiwan Province on August 29. On September 20, the government announced an organizational framework for the Office of the Taiwan Provincial Administration under the Executive Yuan. The office took over local administration duties and designed the local government structure. It operated in the original Taipei Municipal Office building.
3. Taiwan Provincial Government Office (1947-1957)
In 1947 following the February 28 Incident, the Office of the Taiwan Provincial Administration was dissolved on May 16 and replaced by the Taiwan Provincial Government. Five chairmen of the provincial government served in this building: Wei Tao-ming, Chen Cheng, Wu Kuo-chen, Yu Hung-chun and Yen Chia-kan.
On June 30, 1957, the Taiwan Provincial Government relocated to Nantou County in central Taiwan, and the building then passed hands to the Executive Yuan.
4. Executive Yuan (1957-Present)
Since the Taiwan Provincial Government moved to Nantou in 1957, the Central Building has been home to the Executive Yuan. As of 2014, a total of 18 premiers have served in the building: Chen Cheng, Yen Chia-kan, Chiang Ching-kuo, Sun Yun-suan, Yu Kuo-hwa, Lee Huan, Hau Pei-tsun, Lien Chan, Vincent Siew, Tang Fei, Chang Chun-hsiung, Yu Shyi-kun, Frank Hsieh, Su Tseng-chang, Liu Chao-shiuan, Wu Den-yih, Sean Chen and Jiang Yi-huah.