Fri, Oct 29, 2010 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: The KMT’s ‘victory’ over Japan

In recent weeks, on anniversaries marking the war of resistance against Japan and the Japanese defeat of Aboriginal fighters in the Wushe Incident, as well as in his Double Ten National Day address, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has not missed the opportunity to rub a little dirt in the wounds left by World War II. From the horse’s mouth, we heard how Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops defeated the Japanese. Ma touts the KMT “victory” over the Japanese as a turning point in history.

In what history book did the president read that the KMT defeated the Japanese? Yes, the Japanese lost World War II, but their defeat was brought about by the Allied Powers, and mainly the US. Chinese troops played a role against the Japanese, but as the KMT had retreated as far inland as they could go, there wasn’t much they could do to stop the bulk of the Japanese imperial army. Some academics even say the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in between skirmishes with the KMT, did more to resist the Japanese than the KMT, thus winning the hearts and minds of the Chinese populace.

So, why is Ma rewriting history?

Could it be because the enemy of your enemy is your friend? Many Chinese, and especially the CCP, have never forgiven the Japanese, in some cases rightfully, for the atrocities the imperial army brought down upon their country. The Rape of Nanking is just one horrible instance in which even Nazi officials stationed in the city were flabbergasted by the bloodshed.

It’s not uncommon in China to hear or see open hostility toward Japan. Many popular movies portray the Japanese as dogs. Just take a look at the Bruce Lee (李小龍) movie Fist of Fury for an example. However, in this type of popular portrayal, even worse than the Japanese themselves are the Chinese who work for them. They are considered traitors to their motherland, worse than worms and worthy of complete destruction.

That sentiment is alive and thriving in China.

In Taiwan, however, there is a much different view of the Japanese. Despite taking Taiwan as the spoils of war in 1895, Japan quickly worked to build the island’s infrastructure, seeking to turn it into an integral part of the Japanese empire. Even though Ma dismissed the Japanese building efforts in a speech at Taipei Zhongshan Hall on Monday to mark Retrocession Day — a day marking the end of Japanese rule in Taiwan — the rest of Taiwan remembers it differently.

The Japanese built roads, railroads, schools, hospitals, ports and government buildings. In fact, many of the KMT’s early development projects were simply continuations of work begun by the Japanese, such as the Central Cross-Island Highway. The Japanese unified the island, which had been divided by simmering conflict between Hoklo-speaking Taiwanese and Aborigines, established industries and educated the populace. This is something that the Chinese had never done for Taiwan. The Japanese brought modernity, even if it was at the point of a gun.

Ma wants to forget all this in the rush to cozy up with his anti-Japanese bedfellows, the CCP. But Taiwanese are smarter, and their memories go deeper than that. Some people here, especially the ones who identify themselves fully as Chinese, will jump onto that bandwagon and trumpet the Chinese “victory” over the Japanese. However, most will remember their grandparents singing Japanese songs, take their shoes off at the doors to their house and appreciate their Japanese connections.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top