Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chen gives POWs warm welcome on their return

MEMORIAL SOCIETY The president greeted the WWII veterans on their return to Taiwan and told them about the grave threat that China poses to its democracy

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, center, shakes hands yesterday with allied soldiers who were imprisoned by the Japanese on Taiwan. He is accompanied by Yu Shyi-kun, secretary-general of the Presidential Office, right.

PHOTO: CNA

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that in the face of China's growing military forces and its ceaseless ambition to invade Taiwan, the nation has to defend itself to prevent the universal values of democracy, freedom and peace from being destroyed.

Chen made the remarks while receiving members of the "Taiwan POW [prisoner of war] Camps Memorial Society," who gathered in Taiwan to attend an annual Remembrance Weekend. The event is scheduled for today and tomorrow and will honor veterans and prisoners of war interned in Taiwan during World War II.

During the meeting, Chen expressed his respect for the visitors, some of whom had traveled from as far afield as Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

More than 1,000 servicemen from the allied forces operating in Asia were captured by Japan during the war, and imprisoned in 15 prisoner-of-war camps around Taiwan.

Noting their miserable lives as prisoners in Taiwan, Chen said Taiwan now has the determination to be a contributor to promoting the values of freedom and peace in the international community.

"I will appeal to the international community to take the threat to Taiwan's national security seriously," he said.

The Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society is a private group established with the aim of conducting research into all the former Japanese POW camps on Taiwan, and trying to locate them and the POWs who were interned there.

Most importantly, the group wants to ensure that the survivors of these camps know that they and their friends have not been forgotten, the society said in a statement.

The society set up a memorial dedicated to POWs in the village of Chinguashi (金瓜石), located on the northeast coast of Taiwan, in 1997. A second memorial was set up in the village of Linluo (麟洛鄉), Pingtung County, last year by the director and main co-ordinator of the society, Michael Hurst.

The society will hold a banquet tonight in honor of the POWs and provide an opportunity for those in the community to meet and talk with them and to listen to their stories. It will then hold a Remembrance Service at the Taiwan POW Memorial in the village of Chinguashi, near Jiufen (九份), tomorrow.

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