Sun, Sep 08, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan in Time: The rejected and disappointed patriots

Lin Hsien-tang was honored to attend the Japanese surrender ceremony in Nanjing in 1945, but he soon grew disillusioned with KMT misrule and left Taiwan

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Lin Hsien-tang was one of six Taiwanese invited to the Japanese surrender ceremony in Nanjing on Sept. 9, 1945.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sept. 9 to Sept. 15

At 9am on Sept. 9, 1945, military representatives from the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China (ROC) assembled at the ROC Military Academy auditorium in Nanjing. During the 15-minute ceremony, the generals Yasuji Okamura and Ho Ying-chin (何應欽) signed the documents that marked Japan’s unconditional surrender to China after eight years of war.

But six people were missing from the ceremony: the delegation from Taiwan, which was technically still under Japanese control.

Led by Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂), head of the influential Wufeng Lin family (霧峰林家), the group of six Taiwanese intellectuals and social elites were already in Shanghai when they received the green light to attend the ceremony on Sept. 6.

However, the group was somehow “misled” by the Japanese and didn’t make it in time, according to a document held at Academia Historica (國史館). Kao Chen Shuang-shih (高陳雙適), daughter of delegation member Chen Hsin (陳炘) writes in her memoir that the Japanese officers who were in charge of their transportation stalled until they missed the ceremony, but she also mentions another version of the story where a Japanese official told the group the day before the ceremony not to attend.

The five were obviously dejected to miss such an important moment, as this was a time when Taiwanese were still excited to be rid of colonial rule and return to the “motherland” of China. The next day, Ho showed them the surrender documents, took them to the auditorium and described the ceremony.

However, this optimism would not last long.

A REASSURING INVITATION

Japan surrendered to the Allies on Aug. 15, 1945, ending World War II. After an independence attempt that never materialized, the Taiwanese population anxiously awaited their fate.

According to the book The Hundred Year Quest (百年追求), by historian Chen Tsui-lien (陳翠蓮), although most Taiwanese were happy to see the Japanese go and the war end, they were wary of celebrating. Nearly 200,000 Japanese troops were still stationed in Taiwan, and it was hard to tell if they were determined to resist to the end.

“Even if Taiwan was to fall under Chinese control, it was unclear when they would arrive and under what circumstances. Nobody could predict what the Chinese government would do with the Taiwanese either,” Chen writes.

Indeed, there was much animosity by Chinese toward Taiwanese as they supported the enemy during the war as Japanese citizens.

In this climate, Taiwanese leaders decided to send a group to China to connect with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Led by Lin, they headed to Shanghai and met with local officials and Taiwanese expatriates, but on Sept. 6 they received a direct invitation to the surrender ceremony from KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) via Ho.

The formal invitation had a reassuring effect on the population. Chen writes that the KMT did so to show good will towards Taiwan and to indicate that they would be taking over the former Japanese colony soon.

Novelist Wu Cho-liu (吳濁流) writes in his autobiographical novel The Fig (無花果), “On Sept. 6, Lin Hsien-tang and five others who had long been resisting colonial rule, finally had their efforts recognized by the central government and received an invitation to attend the surrender ceremony in Nanjing. The news spread quickly, and it was as if Lin’s honor represented the honor of the 6 million Taiwanese. Everyone was beyond excited.”

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