A temple in Taitung has filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of National Defense, seeking the return of a piece of land it loaned to the ministry six decades ago.
The loan agreement was signed in 1950 between the ministry and Taitung Tian Ho Temple (台東天后宮), which is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Matsu.
Under the terms of the written contract, it was agreed that the ministry would use the land to build a field hospital and living quarters for families of military personnel.
The contract stated that the land would be returned to the temple if the ministry no longer needed it or when “mainland China is reclaimed by the Republic of China.”
However, a lawyer representing the ministry said that the contract had an expiry date, which was Dec. 31, 1979.
“Since the temple didn’t bother to request the return of the land in the 35 years since the contract expired, it lost its claim to the property based on the 15-year statute of limitations,” the lawyer said.
The ministry also said that mainland China does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Republic of China.
The buildings on the land, which were converted into offices for a unit of the Combined Service Force, but eventually fell into disuse, will be torn down and a new barracks will be built for military use, the ministry said.
However, the plan prompted the temple to file a lawsuit against the ministry, on the grounds that the current detente between Taiwan and China amounts to a sort of “reclaiming of mainland China.”
The ministry should therefore honor its promise to return the land, the temple said.
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