Tue, Oct 03, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Pingtung investigates Japanese bunkers

CULTURAL ASSETS:The county’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs considers the structures used by kamikaze pilots valuable monuments and aims to convert them to tourist uses

By Chiu Chi-jou, Tsai Tsung-hsien and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Officials from the Pingtung County Government on Thursday last week enter a recently discovered munitions storage bunker near the Guanshan Scenic Trail in Pingtung County’s Neipu Township. The bunker is thought to have been used by kamikaze pilots of the Imperial Japanese Army’s Special Attack Units.

Photo: Chiu Chih-jou, Taipei Times

The Pingtung County Government last week asked culture and history experts to inspect a former munitions depot in Neipu Township’s (內埔) Laopi Village (老埤), after it was recently discovered.

The munitions storage once served to supply ammunition to the kamikaze pilots of the Special Attack Units of the Imperial Japanese Army, the experts said, adding that it was not only well-preserved, but also of considerable size.

Near the end of World War II in the Pacific theater, the Japanese Empire built up a string of defensive positions stretching from the north to the south of Pingtung to prevent a potential landing by US troops in the south of the island, experts said.

There were about 20 ammunition depots along the defense line, they said, adding that many of the bunkers had not been found yet.

The experts said they would continue investigating the forgotten bunker cluster of Pingtung with funding provided by the Bureau of Cultural Heritage.

National Pingtung University of Technology and Science secretary-general Yeh Kui-chun (葉桂君) said the university had been given the plot of land by the National Property Administration in 2011 and it had discovered the bunker while inspecting the land with the aim of building an entrepreneurship campus.

The campus will help locals and students study and establish their own businesses, Yeh said, adding that the university had complied with all of the bureau’s demands to make arrangements for the bunker.

The county government said it is also mulling nominating the Guanshan area in Hengchun Township (恆春) as a cultural asset due to a fortified artillery bunker in the area.

Not as well-known as the Guanshan Scenic Area and the local Earth God Temple, the artillery bunker is located underground next to the Guanshan Scenic Trail.

While visiting the site on Thursday, Pingtung County Bureau of Cultural Affairs Director Wu Chin-fa (吳錦發) said he was amazed at the extensive network of underground tunnels, which the county has said is the largest artillery complex on the island from the Japanese colonial era.

The Republic of China Army took over the complex after World War II and it was eventually abandoned after the army relocated its troops, the county government said.

The structural integrity of the tunnel is still intact and the site was largely devoid of trash due to its relatively hidden location, the county said, adding that some bats had moved in.

Experts surmised that the artillery complex had been constructed after the Japanese forces retreated from Batan Island in the Philippines.

The county government has also visited other abandoned military facilities behind Pingan Temple in Fangshan Township (枋山).

A cultural asset meeting is to be held to discuss the preservation of the “precious relics,” it said.

The county government said it would work with local townships to hopefully repurpose the sites and turn them into tourist attractions.

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