A program dedicated to prisoners of war (POWs) during World War II will be held next week in Taipei to mark the Far East Prisoner of War (FEPOW) Day that falls on Aug. 15, the organizer said recently.
The event will take place on Aug. 11 to remember military personnel and civilians who suffered imprisonment at the hands of Japanese forces during the global conflict, said Michael Hurst, founder and director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society.
This will be the fifth FEPOW Day event organized by the group in the capital, after the memorial was created in 2007 in the UK to remember those who were enslaved in East and Southeast Asia by Japanese troops during the war years, Hurst said.
The main purpose of the event “is to create an awareness of the suffering endured by all the former POWs and civilian internees,” Hurst said.
However, the memorial service is being held especially to remind people about those who suffered and died in the 14 POW camps which were based around Taiwan, he added.
The event, which is scheduled to take place at SPOT-Taipei Film House, is to feature an exhibition of World War II military and prisoner-of-war artefacts collected by the society, including military uniforms and personal items used by Japanese soldiers and Allied POWs, Hurst said.
There will also be a showing of the documentary The True Story of the Bridge on the River Kwai, which portrays the experience of the POWs who constructed the “Railway of Death” in Burma and Thailand, he said.
In addition to holding regular memorial services, Hurst, who established the society in 1999, has played an integral part in setting up monuments and other memorials at former POW camps around Taiwan.
For example, a sculpture named Mates was unveiled last November at the POW Memorial Park in Jinguashih (金瓜石), New Taipei City (新北市), on the former site of one of the most notorious Japanese camps, known as Kinkaseki.
Designed by Hurst, the object symbolizes the importance of the POWs’ support for one another during their gruelling imprisonment within a series of internment camps.
A black granite wall, inscribed with the names of the 4,363 former POWs kept at different camps around Taiwan between 1942 and 1945 — the last four years of Japanese colonial rule over the island that began in 1895 — was also erected last year.
In the same year, Taiwan’s eighth POW monument, set up in Taipei’s Dazhi (大直), area near the former camp of Taihoku, was inaugurated.