Sun, Aug 16, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Ceremony marks 70th anniversary of end of WWII

TAIWAN 815 PEACE FORUM:The alliance “hopes to re-present Taiwan’s history during World War II, establish Taiwan’s own perspective on the war, and reflect on the role that Taiwan can play for justice and peace in East Asia”

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

A ceremony co-launched by dozens of groups to commemorate the end of World War II and call for official memorials dedicated to Taiwanese servicemen and people who lost their lives during the war took place in Taipei yesterday.

The Taiwan 815 Peace Forum, an alliance formed by more than 30 groups of “old, middle-aged and young people who care about the land and the history of Taiwan,” held a ceremony yesterday marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

“[We] hope to re-present Taiwan’s history during World War II, establish Taiwan’s own perspective on the war, and reflect on the role that Taiwan can play for justice and peace in East Asia,” the alliance said.

An end-of-war peace declaration was read in six languages — Hokklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), Mandarin, Hakka, Truku, English and Japanese — which said that Taiwanese had failed to enjoy the peace and well-being they deserved since 1945, when the world was immersed in the joy of the war’s end, “as the island was later dragged into the Chinese Civil War” and “for the following four decades lived under an authoritarian regime that robbed the people of their right to pursue democracy.”

“The military threat has not ceased to hover above Taiwan even now, 70 years after the end of World War II. Following the surrender of Japan, Taiwanese had to live on the front line of the Cold War, and now, is once again caught in China’s dream of territorial expansion,” the declaration said.

“The peace desired by Taiwanese is peace with dignity and justice, not that temporarily obtained by succumbing to enemies. As Martin Luther King Jr said: ‘Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice,’” it added.

Five former Taiwanese servicemen in the Imperial Japanese Navy and one former army nurse were honored at the ceremony, during which their unrecognized suffering was acknowledged.

“No war anymore, for peace,” a nonagenarian veteran said in Japanese.

“Of more than 200,000 Taiwanese who fought in the Imperial Japanese Army, more than 30,000 died on foreign soil, not to mention those civilians who were killed in air raids by allied forces on the island,” said Chen Li-fu (陳俐甫), a professor at Aletheia University and a board director of the Taiwan Association of University Professors, one of the organizing groups for the event.

“There are martyrs’ shrines on the island, which were built for [Republic of China soldiers], but no official memorials, ceremonies or monuments, have been held or established for them. They were our relatives, elders, friends and neighbors, and if we do not remember them, their sacrifice would become a mirage, forgotten in history. This is historical injustice,” Chen said.

The alliance urged the government to erect memorial monuments for Taiwan’s war victims and hold a commemorative ceremony every year on Aug. 15.

The venue for yesterday’s ceremony, in front of the 228 Peace Memorial Museum, was the Taipei Broadcasting Station during the Japanese colonial era, which was responsible for broadcasting the “Imperial Rescript of Surrender” on Aug. 15, 1945.

The event finished with the participants signing a three-point statement, calling for “peace with dignity across the Taiwan Strait, not a peace agreement that tramples on Taiwan’s sovereignty and identity, peace with public justice in Asia, not a truce maintained by caving in to superpowers’ strong-arming, and eternal peace in the world, not an order kept by overlooking human rights, denying diversity, perpetrating class oppression and depriving the future generations of their resources.”

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