On the morning of July 7, President Ma Ying-jeou attended the opening of the Exhibition Commemorating the 77th Anniversary of Victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and the Retrocession of Taiwan held by the Taipei City Government to memorialize the sacrifices and contributions of those who died for their country. The president expressed hope that the preservation of these documents and historical items from the war would enable people to face the facts of history so that society can move forward into the future.
After arriving, President Ma first listened to the master of ceremonies recite the inscription on a memorial to the War of Resistance Against Japan and the Retrocession of Taiwan. The president presented flowers in front of the memorial and delivered remarks, noting that July 7 marked the 77th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the 69th anniversary of ROC's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and the retrocession of Taiwan. The Taipei City Government decided to hold the commemorative activities at Taipei Zhongshan Hall, which, President Ma said, carries important historical meaning. He noted that next year will be the 70th anniversary of the victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan, and that he had already instructed the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, and the Ministry of National Defense to organize a series of commemorative activities in recognition of the importance of this historical event to the people of Taiwan.
The president commented that the War of Resistance Against Japan was the most protracted war in the history of the ROC. It also covered an area wider than any other conflict, and the number of persons involved in the war exceeded any other, as did the number of deaths. In total over three million Chinese soldiers and over 20 million civilians lost their lives, he said, while Japan lost 2.12 million military personnel during the war and one million civilians were either injured or killed. President Ma remarked that the war was a hard, bitter, and brutal experience.
The president stated that the soldiers of the ROC sacrificed their lives and blood during the War of Resistance Against Japan. They stopped the Japanese offensive in China and played an important role in containing Japan in the Pacific theater after the attack on Pearl Harbor. President Ma commented that the United States stated at that time that had it not been for later President Chiang Kai-shek's refusal to surrender or compromise, and his leadership in the War of Resistance that tied down a huge portion of Japanese army and air force, thus keeping them out of the Pacific theater, Japan's offensive might have progressed even more quickly, and even Australia might have been captured. In addition, he said, British army forces at one critical juncture were surrounded by Japanese forces, but Chinese General Sun Li-jen (孫立人) and Regiment Commander Liu Fang-wu (劉放吾) led the 113th Regiment of the New 38th Division to rescue the trapped troops which became known as the "Victory at Yenangyaung". Former British Army captain Gerald Fitzpatrick, who witnessed the battle, wrote about it in a book, and expressed gratitude to the ROC armed forces for their bravery, the president pointed out.
President Ma further stated that on January 11, 1943 the ROC signed separate treaties with Britain and the United States that abolished all of the unequal treaties of the past and elevated the ROC into the ranks of the world's four major powers. After the end of the war, the ROC's international status was enhanced, and Taiwan was returned to the ROC, the president said. He stated that after the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance, Taiwan adopted a number of political, economic, and constitutional measures that could not have been instituted in the Chinese mainland. This, he said, opened up a new page in history for the Chinese people.
The president emphasized that the wrongs of history perhaps can be forgiven, but that the truths of history cannot be forgotten. The people of the ROC should look back upon history and learn from it, he said, pointing to the activities held on June 6 of this year in France to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion by allied forces. President Ma pointed out that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was invited to attend the ceremonies and leaders from a number of countries jointly commemorated this historical event. The president said that after Germany's defeat in World War II, Germany even created the word Vergangenheitsbewaltigung, which means loosely "a struggle to come to terms with the past." He noted that subsequently, Germany and France abandoned mutual hatred that had lasted a century and instead worked together to support the establishment of the European Union (EU), which became the primary force for peace in Europe. Two years ago, he said, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, highlighting the union's success in resolving disputes in a peaceful manner, which has helped to create a model for the rest of mankind.
President Ma also mentioned that the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation, the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, and the 1952 Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan all required that the territories Japan stole from China, including Taiwan and the Penghu Islands, be restored to the Republic of China. As for the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyutai Islets, the president stated, three months prior to the signing of the 1896 Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Japanese Cabinet issued an order to establish a national marker on the Diaoyutais. However, President Ma noted, the Japanese never publicly announced its move, which makes its usurping of Chinese territory and its claim to the Diaoyutais "null and void ab initio" according to international law. The president said that Japan ruled over the Diaoyutais for 50 years in accordance with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, but after that treaty was voided, Japan lost any basis for maintaining control over the islets, he commented. As a result, the president remarked, even though Taiwan and Japan recently signed a fisheries agreement that grants greater protections to Taiwanese fishermen operating in the area, the government has not ceded one inch on its territorial and sovereignty claims. He said the government will continue to staunchly defend this stance.
President Ma told those in attendance that the government will make every effort to preserve the historical facts of the War of Resistance Against Japan. He said that he has asked the Ministry of National Defense, which is now preparing to renovate the Taipei Hero House, to draw up a coordinated plan that gives comprehensive consideration not only to the Hero House, but also to the Armed Forces Museum and a yet-to-be-established memorial to the War of Resistance Against Japan. He also expressed hope that the Taipei City Government and the central government will work together to help the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation find an appropriate site to establish various historical displays associated with comfort women, in an effort to preserve historical facts and relics.
After completing his remarks, the president presented commemorative medals to various individuals to mark the 77th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and in recognition of the distinguished contributions by them or their fathers in fighting against the Japanese. Among those attending the activities were Secretary-General to the President Timothy Chin-Tien Yang (楊進添), Taipei City Mayor Lung-Bin Hau (郝龍斌), and cultural historian Lan Bo-zhou (藍博洲).