Japan rules Taiwan under a constitutional monarchy, but as a colony the statutes enacted by the Japanese legislature do not apply to Taiwan. The major laws ruling Taiwan are administrative orders of governor-general. This changes somewhat in 1921, but the people of Taiwan never have equal legal status with the Japanese. After World War II, Japan resigns and forsakes governance of Taiwan.
The Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC) is adopted. It guarantees human rights and freedoms and establishes a centralized government with five branches, or yuans: executive, legislative, judicial, examination, and control. The judicial system has three tiers: the Supreme Court, the High Courts, and the District Courts.
The ROC constitution is promulgated on mainland and applies to Taiwan as a territory of China. It protects human rights and provides independent judiciary and democratic legislation. But when the Nationalists lose China and retreat to Taiwan, they declare martial law. All rights are suspended, including the right to reelect legislature. Those in office retain their seats for the next 40 years.
Nationalists establish an authoritarian regime that tolerates no freedom of expression and association, and also controls legislature, administration, and the judiciary with party organization that penetrates all levels of state and society. A constitution exists, but in the name of "taking back the mainland," it is merely a skeleton, with no life in reality.
Martial law is lifted. The National Security Law is put in place.
The constitution, amended in 1991, '92, and '94 in preparation for 1996's direct elections, legalizes the formation of opposition parties and declares the "lifetime" member system unconstitutional. PRC rule of the mainland is recognized, and the constitution is restricted to Taiwan. With a reelected legislature, Taiwan finally enjoys the democracy and rule-of-law system the constitution mandates.
Constitutional amendments in 1997, 1999, and 2000 restructure the government and redefine the roles of every branch, effectively resulting in a new constitution. In March 2000, the Democratic Progressive Party victory marks an end to nearly a half century of Nationalist rule. The DPP introduces legislation to force parties to shed their business holdings, which targets the Nationalists.
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