October 25 is Taiwan's Retrocession Day, and President Ma Ying-jeou visited the Taipei Zhongshan Hall that morning to attend an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and Taiwan's retrocession.
The president stated that in the adjacent Guangfu Auditorium, then Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan Ando Rikichi surrendered to representatives from the ROC military. The president stated that in his capacity as president of the ROC he would like to take this rare opportunity to explain to the public the deep significance of this year's expanded commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the victory in the War of Resistance and Taiwan's retrocession.
President Ma noted that the eight-year War of Resistance was the most geographically extensive defense of the nation against foreign aggression in Chinese history, with the highest number of casualties and the most far-reaching repercussions. Over 40,000 large-scale battles and smaller engagements took place during the course of the war, with ROC forces losing more battles than they won. About 3.22 million ROC troops lost their lives, far more than the number of Japanese casualties. ROC forces nevertheless fought to the bitter end, unwilling to surrender or compromise while using the strategy of trading space for time, and ultimately emerging victorious, he said.
The day following the Pearl Harbor attack in December of 1941, the ROC declared war against Japan and joined the Allied nations in their fight. Then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that one key to the Allied victory in World War II was China's committed war against Japanese aggression, which prevented Japan and Germany from joining forces and linking the Asian and European theaters. Professor Rana Mitter of Oxford University, in his 2014 book titled Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945, added that "During this time a poor and underdeveloped country held down some 800,000 troops from one of the most highly militarized and technologically advanced societies in the world…the success of the Allies in fighting on two fronts at once, in Europe and Asia, was posited in significant part on making sure that China stayed in the war." President Roosevelt and Professor Mitter thus testify to the ROC's wartime tribulations and outstanding contributions to the Allied victory in World War II, President Ma said.
The president then mentioned that the people of Taiwan's efforts to resist Japanese aggression started in 1895 when Taiwan was ceded to Japan, 42 years prior to the Marco Polo Bridge Incident near Beijing on July 7, 1937. The Qing court (1644-1911) was defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and was forced to sign the Treaty of Shimonoseki in April 1895, which ceded Taiwan to Japan and shocked the whole country, giving rise to much grief and indignation, he stated. The people of Taiwan engaged in armed resistance against the Japanese colonizers for 20 years, beginning in May 1895 when the Japanese military landed on the shores of Aodi in northern Taiwan until the Tapani Incident (aka the Xilai Temple Incident) in southern Taiwan's Tainan in 1915. Thereafter, Taiwanese engaged in unarmed resistance.
The president went on to say that starting in the 1920s, anti-Japanese crusaders who encouraged unarmed resistance included Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂), Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), Liao Chin-ping (廖進平), Weng Chun-ming (翁俊明), Lien Ya-tang (連雅堂), Tsai Pei-huo (蔡培火), and Chien Chi (簡吉), who formed the Taiwan Culture Association, the Taiwan People's Party, and the Taiwan Farmers Union, all of which pursued an autonomous, representative assembly for Taiwan. In the latter years of that period, people like Tsai Chung-shu (蔡忠恕) and Lee Chien-hsing (李建興) were involved in underground movements. 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. Weng Chun-ming (翁俊明) led the Taiwan Revolutionary Alliance, while Li Wan-chu (李萬居) participated in the Institute of International Studies. Chiu Nien-tai (丘念臺) led the Guangdong eastern regional service corps against Japan, and Lin Cheng-heng (林正亨) joined the Chinese Expeditionary Force to Burma. Others, such as Hsieh Tung-min (謝東閔), Huang Chao-chin (黃朝琴), and Lien Chen-tung (連震東) also contributed to Taiwan's retrocession, the president said. This all proves that the Taiwanese people repeatedly exhibited a strong feeling of Taiwan identity in their efforts to resist Japan, and showed that their allegiance was to Taiwan and definitely not Japan, the president added.
Following the Qing court's defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War, the ROC's founding father Dr. Sun Yat-sen established the Revive China Society with the goal of overthrowing the Qing Dynasty. Then because Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895, Dr. Sun initiated the first Guangzhou Uprising that year. In 1897, the president said, two years after Taiwan was ceded to Japan, Dr. Sun sent Chen Shao-pai (陳少白) to Taiwan to found the Taiwan chapter of the Revive China Society. In 1899 Dr. Sun personally visited Taiwan and on Changsha Street in Taipei planned the Huizhou Uprising together with Taiwanese anti-Japanese crusaders. Following the establishment of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun repeatedly stressed in public addresses that Taiwan was "lost territory." In 1923 in Kobe, Japan, Dr. Sun urged Japan to avoid being a lackey of Western hegemony, and instead be the benevolent protector of the East.
Japan, the president said, had coveted the northeastern provinces of China for many years, and pursuant to the Treaty of Shimonoseki, China ceded the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan. Russia, France, and Germany, however, all demanded that Japan withdraw its claim on the Liaodong Peninsula. Subsequently, the Mukden Incident of September 18, 1931 marked Japan's invasion of China's northeast, and in the following year Japan established Manchukuo, a puppet state in Manchuria. On September 13 Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) in his diary wrote of his desire to recover China's three northeast provinces, liberate Korea, and recover Taiwan and Okinawa. In 1936 and 1938, Generalissimo Chiang twice described the behest of the deceased Dr. Sun of "restoring Korea and Taiwan, and consolidating the Republic of China." On December 9, 1941 Nationalist Government Chairman Lin Sen (林森) declared war against Japan and proclaimed that "all treaties, agreements and contracts that involved relations between China and Japan had become null and void," and this of course included the Treaty of Shimonoseki, President Ma stated.
In late November 1943 the leaders of the ROC, the United States, and the United Kingdom convened the Cairo Conference and issued the Cairo Declaration, stipulating that "all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa (Taiwan), and the Pescadores (Penghu), shall be restored to the Republic of China." It also required the unconditional surrender of Japan. On July 26, 1945 the ROC, United States, and the United Kingdom jointly issued the Potsdam Proclamation, again calling for the Japanese to surrender. Article 8 of that Proclamation stipulates that "the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out." Later that year, on August 15, the Japanese emperor issued an imperial edict accepting the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation and surrendering unconditionally. Japan formally completed unconditional surrender procedures to the Allies on September 2, signing the formal instrument aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Paragraphs one and six of the Instrument of Surrender also stipulate that Japan accept the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation.
As the Cairo Declaration, Potsdam Proclamation, and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender are all intimately related, they are binding on all signatory countries, the president said. After Japan's surrender in 1945, the ROC immediately began to exercise sovereignty over Taiwan, based not only on General Order No. 1 issued by Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Douglas MacArthur, but even more importantly on the three aforementioned wartime international legal documents. In fact, the president noted that compilations of official treaties from the United States and Japan both include these three documents, and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender has been included in the United States Statutes at Large and the United Nations Treaty Series, making them binding under international law.
Following the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan, a civil war erupted between the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and the Communist Party. Neither the Nationalists nor the Chinese Communists were invited to attend the San Francisco Peace Conference. Article 26 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, however, specially grants authority to the Allied nations and Japan to separately enter into treaties regarding territory and other related matters. On April 28, 1952, the ROC and Japan signed a peace treaty and an accompanying Exchange of Notes, both of which came into force on August 5 that same year, and constituted an extension of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. In the ROC-Japan Peace Treaty, Article 2 stipulated that Japan renounced sovereignty over Formosa (Taiwan) and the Pescadores (Penghu); Article 4 stated that all treaties (including the Treaty of Shimonoseki) became null and void as a result of the war; and Article 10 recognized that all the inhabitants of Taiwan and Penghu were accepted as nationals of the Republic of China. The Exchange of Notes (No.1) also confirmed that Taiwan and Penghu were part of the ROC's territory, once again reaffirming that the Republic of China recovered Taiwan.
The war that led to nearly 30 million casualties on both sides has created resentment between the people of China and Japan for over 120 years, the president pointed out, adding that while the mistakes of expansionist aggression may be forgiven, the history of blood and tears cannot be forgotten. During the War of Resistance, Japanese aggression cost the lives of more than 23 million ROC troops and civilians, and to this day, the Japanese government has yet to adequately address and reflect on the pains and injustices suffered by so-called "comfort women." Nonetheless, the president said we should acknowledge that the Japanese also built some key infrastructure during their colonial rule such as the Chianan Canal and the Wusanto Reservoir, which benefited Taiwanese farmers, and we should recognize this, he said. Looking ahead, the president stated that only by maintaining "fact-based objectivity, showing humane empathy, and clarity about historical events, both positive and negative" can the Chinese and the Japanese establish a sustainable friendship.
The president then pointed out that the government's expanded commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance and Taiwan's retrocession commemorate the intimate, inseparable, and interdependent relationship between the ROC and Taiwan. He went on to say that over the past 120 years, due to the Qing court's defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War and the ceding of Taiwan to Japan in 1895, Dr. Sun was determined to overthrow the Qing court and establish the Republic of China. Because of Japan's aggression in northeastern China, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek advocated Taiwan's retrocession to ROC territory. When he declared war on Japan, the Treaty of Shimonoseki was abolished, and he subsequently demanded the return of northeastern China, Taiwan, and the Pescadores (Penghu) to ROC sovereignty in the Cairo Declaration. It was because of the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance that Taiwan once again became ROC territory, the president said. And finally, the president affirmed that only because Taiwan was staunchly defended and developed does the ROC have the freedom, democracy, and prosperity it has today. Therefore, every ROC president is duty-bound to commemorate this do-or-die period in the nation's history.
The president then expressed hope that people throughout the country can understand the cruelties of war and the hardships of the War of Resistance. He also called on the public to cherish the hard-won peace and prosperity of the ROC today, come together and show solidarity, continue to cooperate, and strive to move forward to forge Taiwan's future and the prospects of the Republic of China.
In closing, the president once again expressed his sincere respect and gratitude for the sacrifices and contributions of all the heroes, martyrs, and valiant soldiers of the War of Resistance, as well as their descendants.