I've heard that Japanese is spoken by some Taiwanese people who were old enough to have lived during Japanese rule, along with some people who've learnt it for other reasons. For younger people, I've been told Mandarin or English would be the best means of communication, but I have a tendency to socialize a lot with retirees.

How similar is the Japanese spoken in Taiwan by native speakers to the Japanese used in Japan? Did the two diverge after 1945? Are words that entered Japanese after 1945 also used in the Japanese spoken in Taiwan?

  • 1
    Note that Taiwanese, a dialect of the Chinese language [family?], is not really Mandarin. Some Taiwanese are fluent in English but I don't think any Taiwanese family speak English at home. They are not like English-speaking Singaporean.
    – nodakai
    Mar 19, 2016 at 18:55
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    "I've been told Mandarin or English would be the best means of communication, but I have a tendency to socialize a lot with retirees." For older folks, depending on how old and which part of Taiwan they live in, you are likely to find that Southern Min, aka Taiwanese, is a better language to use. As you travel south from Taipei the use of Taiwanese becomes more common especially among the older people. Not sure how much longer that will be true though.
    – Readin
    Jul 29, 2021 at 4:51

3 Answers 3


As far as I know, there is no difference, because Japanese is mainly used as a language to talk to people in Japan which is right close by, and to enjoy media and products from Japan. Japanese is still widely studied in Korea for the same reasons. Japanese textbooks in Taiwan seem to demonstrate an eagerness for fluency and avoiding confusion in business conversation.

Taiwan was under Japanese administration until 1945 and the language has not changed significantly since then.

On the other hand, the Japanese used in Hawaii and Brazil, among the lower-class immigrant Japanese communities there, may preserve some older forms. That immigration happened around 1900.

  • I have also heard that many of the immigrants to Hawai'i came from the south (or west, depending on how you look at it) of Japan, biasing the selection of dialects there. Dec 30, 2013 at 3:17

I've heard that Japanese spoken by old Taiwanese people would sounds more like the dialects from Kyushu and surrounded areas. It's partially because people from these areas was a major makeup of the ethnic Japanese population in the pre-war Taiwan.

But for younger people who've learnt Japanese after 1970s or the old people who've got higher education levels (in Japanese speaking environment) would speak with standard Tokyo accent.


My grandma, who was born in Taiwan around the 1930s, speaks Japanese as her first language. Apparently she says that although the language hasn’t changed much, there has been many new colloquial words introduced which she doesn’t understand. But still, it’s probably just like talking to any Japanese grandmas. As to accents, I don’t know.

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