President Ma Ying-jeou on the morning of August 15 visited Academia Historica to attend the opening of the "From War to Peace: Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of Victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and Taiwan's Retrocession." The president reiterated that the ROC will continue to promote the development of ROC-Japan relations based on fact-based objectivity, humane empathy, and clarity about historical events, both positive and negative. The ROC, he said, hopes that the Japanese government will continue to face up to history and adopt a more sincere, more forward-looking, and responsible attitude, along with taking concrete action to forge true reconciliation and develop friendly and cooperative relations with neighboring countries.
In remarks, the president noted that this particular exhibit, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan, was opening on August 15, 70 years to the day after Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender. He went on to say that opening the exhibit on this special date carries particular significance for the people of the ROC, so they can understand the sacrifices and contributions of those who died for the country, and how precious peace can be.
President Ma stated that this exhibit is quite ingenious, taking the number "70" from the exhibit title "70th Anniversary of the Victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and Taiwan's Retrocession" and using it to create seven major themes. Each of the seven exhibit themes, including battles, times, places, documents, historical relics, songs, and propaganda items, has 10 significant entries, showing the entire course of the war. This exhibit, the president noted, not only features international diplomacy, important battles in the fight against the Japanese, uniforms and gear of frontline soldiers, and other political and military-related items, but also introduces the wartime period from a social perspective, showing the lives of the public, how people received education, and what they saw and experienced from that era. This will help the public become more familiar with and better understand the history of the War of Resistance and thus cherish the hard-won peace, he said.
The president then touched on the historical facts regarding anti-Japanese resistance by the Taiwanese people. Anti-Japanese movements continued unabated after the Qing court (1644-1911) was defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), and signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895, ceding Taiwan and the Pescadores (Penghu) to Japan. Early on, heroes such as Chiu Feng-chia (丘逢甲), Wu Tang-hsing (吳湯興), Chiang Shao-tsu (姜紹祖), Chien Ta-shih (簡大獅), Yu Ching-fang (余清芳), Luo Fu-hsing (羅福星), Lin Tsu-mi (林祖密), and Mona Rudao (莫那魯道) led armed resistance. Then Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂), Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), Liao Chin-ping (廖進平), Weng Chun-ming (翁俊明) and others engaged in non-violent resistance in a bid to gain autonomy and democracy. During the War of Resistance Against Japan, General Li Yu-bang (李友邦) organized volunteer Taiwanese partisan fighters to carry out guerilla operations against Japan in the coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang. Li Wan-chu (李萬居) participated in the Institute of International Studies. Chiu Nien-tai (丘念台) led the Guangdong eastern regional service corps against Japan. Lin Cheng-heng (林正亨) joined the Chinese Expeditionary Force to Burma. More than 50,000 people including Hsieh Tung-min (謝東閔), Huang Chao-chin (黃朝琴), and Lien Chen-tung (連震東) made contributions to Taiwan's retrocession. The historical facts reveal that during the Japanese colonial era, the Taiwanese people showed strong determination to resist Japan, a concrete demonstration of Taiwan's solidarity.
The president mentioned that the exhibit also includes a copy of the Cairo Declaration of December 1, 1943, which stipulates that "all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores (Penghu), shall be restored to the Republic of China." That sentence is also included in the Potsdam Proclamation of July 1945 and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender of September 1945. These are recognized by the ROC, the US, and Japan as international documents, and form the legal basis for the restoration of Taiwan to the Republic of China's jurisdiction. The Japanese Instrument of Surrender is even included in the United States Statutes at Large and in the United Nations Treaty Series, which confirms that it is a bona fide, legally binding treaty.
The president mentioned the remarks made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on August 14 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. President Ma said that those remarks maintained the Japanese government's previous stance, and show that Japan has reflected on its imperialistic aggression and the resulting loss of life in nations throughout Asia. Prime Minister Abe also expressed Japan's deepest remorse and apologies. The president remarked that Prime Minister Abe did use key words and phrases that other countries are concerned about including "aggression" and "colonization" of China, and Japan's "reflection," "remorse," "apologies," "shouldering the responsibilities of war," "the inestimable harm and suffering caused to innocent people," "the serious violation of the dignity and honor of comfort women," and its "pledge in perpetuity to abandon the use of force to resolve international disputes and not again challenge international order." While this narrative was somewhat different from the past, triggering a range of opinions from various sectors, the ROC government, the president said, believes that Japan is willing to reflect on and examine its past actions. It furthermore hopes that Japan will do more, and do better, in addressing its wartime actions, especially with respect to the issue of the so-called "comfort women."
Commenting on the relationship between Taiwan and Japan, the president stated that historically, there have been many engagements and entanglements between ethnic Chinese and Japanese, both positive and negative. Reflecting that situation, he quoted the opening paragraph of the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty: "Considering their mutual desire for good neighborliness in view of their historical and cultural ties and geographical proximity; realizing the importance of their close cooperation to the promotion of their common welfare and to the maintenance of international peace and security…."
The president remarked that since he took office, the ROC government has inherited and carried forward the spirit of the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan, and has designated the relationship between Taiwan and Japan as a "special partnership." As of the end of last year the ROC and Japan had signed a total of 58 agreements, the president said, with 25 of those agreements, or 43%, signed during his term as president including the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement and a fisheries agreement. In addition, the president made a point to propose the East China Sea Peace Initiative on the date of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace taking effect. That initiative advocates the concept that "although sovereignty over national territory cannot be compromised, natural resources can be shared." After negotiations, the two countries signed a fisheries agreement in April 2013, which puts the peace initiative's concepts into concrete practice, and further enhances regional peace and stability.
President Ma also mentioned that Taiwan and Japan amended their previous aviation agreement in 2011, paving the way for "open skies" between the two countries. Subsequently, the number of airports served and flights between the two places have increased significantly. Last year, ROC nationals made about 2.97 million visits to Japan, while Japanese made 1.63 million visits to Taiwan, bringing the total number of visits to a record of 4.6 million, which was an increase of 2.1 million from 2007, before he took office. Over the past seven years, the relationship between the ROC and Japan has actually seen enormous changes, the president remarked.