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A Word from the President
October 25, 2010 marked the 65th anniversary of the Republic of China’s (ROC) victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and the Retrocession of Taiwan. To commemorate this important piece of history, the Taiwan Provincial Government and the Taipei City Government jointly held a photo exhibition, and later compiled the displayed images into this companion volume in both Chinese and English. It is hoped that, through this book, the world can come to understand the past, learn history’s lessons and draw inspiration for future development.
These photos are hard evidence of the historical fact that the War of Resistance Against Japan was fought courageously in an effort led by the ROC government. As these images attest, the outgunned and outmatched ROC armed forces fought the Japanese invaders valiantly under nearly impossible conditions starting with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937. During the eight-year conflict, more than 3.22 million servicemen were killed, including over 200 generals. The civilian death toll was estimated to have exceeded 20 million.
The heroism of an earlier generation continues to move the soul even sixty-some years later. Under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the entire nation was united in the struggle against Japanese aggression. Chiang’s strategy of “trading space for time” utterly crushed Japan’s ambition of taking over the whole of China in the span of just three months, sinking the Japanese military deep into the mire of a protracted war that ultimately led to its defeat.
Without victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan, there would not have been the retrocession of Taiwan, and Taiwan would not have been liberated from Japanese colonial rule and restored to the ROC. However, for years, the fallacy that Japan renounced sovereignty over Taiwan after its surrender in 1945 without stating to whom it should turn Taiwan over has been widely circulated. This line of thinking goes on to say that Taiwan’s legal status is undetermined. Such a view simply does not accord with the facts.
On April 1, 1938 in the city of Wuchang in Hubei Province, the Kuomintang (KMT) convened its Fifth Extraordinary National Congress and passed the Guiding Principles for the War of Resistance Against Japan and National Development. Demonstrating his resolve to recover Taiwan, KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek called for the liberation of Korea and Taiwan from Japanese control and for the strengthening of China.
On December 9, 1941, just days after Japan’s attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor and four years into the Republic of China’s lone resistance against Japan, the ROC formally declared war on Japan and proclaimed that all treaties, agreements and contracts between China and Japan had become null and void. This included the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki by which China ceded Taiwan to Japan.
After the Cairo Conference of November 1943, the leaders of China, the United States and the United Kingdom jointly issued the Cairo Declaration, which firmly advocates that Japan be required to return all of the territory it had stolen from the ROC, including the four northeastern provinces, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands.
In July 1945, as the Allies were headed for victory following Nazi Germany’s surrender, the leaders of the U.S. and the U.K., meeting at Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany, invited the ROC to jointly issue the Potsdam Proclamation, demanding the unconditional surrender of the Japanese Empire. Article 8 of the proclamation states that the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out, and that Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as determined by the Allies.
On August 14 of that same year, after the United States had twice dropped atomic bombs on Japan, the Japanese government finally announced acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Proclamation and Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies. On September 2, Japan’s Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, boarded the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to surrender on behalf of their nation to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur.
The first paragraph of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender stated that the Emperor of Japan unconditionally accepted the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation. Following the surrender, General MacArthur issued General Order No. 1, which instructed Japanese forces in mainland China, Taiwan and French Indochina north of 16 degrees north latitude to surrender to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Allied commander-in-chief in the China Theater. On September 9, Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese Army Ho Ying-chin received the surrender of Japanese forces from Japan’s Commander-in-Chief of the China Expeditionary Army Yasuji Okamura in Nanjing. In Articles 1 and 2 of the surrender document, the Japanese again pledged to abide by the terms of the Potsdam Proclamation.
These documents—the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender—form the legal basis for the restoration of Taiwan to the jurisdiction of the Republic of China. The United States has continually seen these as binding international treaties or agreements, and not simply as wartime policy declarations. These documents signed by Allied and Japanese leaders in their capacity as their respective nations’ heads of state are concrete pledges and naturally have binding force on these countries in both international law and diplomatic practice.
The United States, for example, listed the Cairo Declaration, Potsdam Proclamation and Japanese Instrument of Surrender in Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949 and United States Statutes at Large, while the Japanese Instrument of Surrender is listed in the United Nations Treaty Series. 1 These, thus, are legally binding for signatories and participants (the ROC, the US, the UK, the Soviet Union and Japan). Other nations cannot deny the legal status of these documents. The Republic of China also regards these as international treaties binding for both the ROC and Japan. Those who consider these documents as merely press communiqués are seriously mistaken.
In September 1951, the Allies held a peace conference in San Francisco and signed the Treaty of Peace with Japan in which Japan agreed to renounce all foreign territories it had occupied. As China was engaged in a civil war, the ROC government was not invited to the event. Article 26 of the Treaty stipulated that allied nations that did not participate in the peace conference must separately sign the treaty with Japan.
On April 28, 1952 (the effective date of the San Francisco Treaty), the ROC signed the Treaty of Peace Between the Republic of China and Japan (a.k.a. the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty or Treaty of Taipei) in Taipei. The Treaty specified that both Japan and the ROC agreed to terminate the state of war (Article 1), and Japan renounced all right, title and claim to Taiwan, Penghu, the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands (Article 2). Echoing the wording of the ROC’s proclamation of war against Japan, the Treaty abrogated retroactively all previous treaties, conventions and agreements signed between Japan and China before December 9, 1941, including, naturally, the Treaty of Shimonoseki (Article 4) under which Taiwan and Penghu were ceded; and it confirmed the ROC citizenship of residents of the Taiwan and Penghu areas (Article 10), proving acceptance of Taiwan and Penghu as territories of the Republic of China in the form of an internationally binding treaty. Some of these historical documents are on display here at this exhibition, which puts to rest once and for all the fallacy that Taiwan is not a territory of the ROC.
Another focus of this exhibition is the historical fact of anti-Japanese resistance by the Taiwan public during the Japanese colonial era. Taiwan was ceded to Japan following China’s defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, but the idea of cession initially met with adamant opposition in both Beijing and Taiwan. A written petition was put forth in Beijing by the Taiwanese official Wang Chun-yuan 汪春源 and four others, while Kang You-wei 康有為 led a group that submitted a bold public petition to the Guangxu Emperor, demanding “execution of the traitorous viceroy and rejection of the peace terms.” They even broached the warning that “abandoning the people of Taiwan would cause the whole nation to disintegrate.”
During the early period of Japanese colonial rule, the inhabitants of Taiwan formed a partisan militia and mounted fierce opposition. In all, it took the Japanese five months and multiple injections of fresh troops before they managed to capture all of Taiwan by November 1895. The difficulty of subjugating Taiwan and the number of casualties incurred by the Japanese exceeded those of the Liaodong Peninsula conflict of the previous year. During this period, Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa, the leader of the Japanese expeditionary force besieging Taiwan, and Major General Nobunari Yamane were severely wounded and eventually died (their deaths attributed to “illness”). From north to south, the Japanese army adopted the principle of indiscriminate killing (making no distinction between soldier and civilian, male and female, old and young), and a scorched-earth policy to “kill all, burn all, loot all.” Cities and towns were burned to the ground; military and civilian casualties were estimated to have exceeded 100,000.
After Japanese rule began on June 17, 1895, the people of Taiwan engaged in unremitting armed and unarmed resistance. In 1898, the Bandit Punishment Law was promulgated and implemented by the fourth Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan Gentarō Kodama and Civil Affairs Bureau chief Shinpei Gotō. At the same time a policy was enacted to encourage insurgents to surrender. In An Aspect of Japanese Colonial Policy, Gotō admitted to having lured 16,000 anti-Japanese activists to their slaughter. The exhibition photos recount riveting stories from this period, including the 1915 Hsilai Temple uprising, which occurred some 20 years after colonial rule began and for which 866 were sentenced to death.
Also pictured are scenes of nonviolent resistance. These included the 1920s petitions by the Taiwan Cultural Association and Taiwan People’s Party for repeal of the discriminatory Law No. 63 (which gave the Governor-General near-dictatorial powers) and the establishment of a Taiwan Council. For this, many were jailed or put under close surveillance. Also on display are images concerning the Wushe Incident of 1930, in which Japanese colonialists used cruel methods (including airplanes, artillery and poisonous gas) to suppress the rebellion led by the aboriginal Seediq Chief Mona Rudao. Over 800 Taiwanese were killed or injured in this incident, shocking the international community into sending a League of Nations delegation to investigate. This event forced the resignation of Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan Eizo Ishizuka, the Taichung Prefectural Governor Kouichi Mizukoshi and other high-ranking officials.
The cession of Taiwan in 1895 triggered a series of anti-Japanese movements, led in the early stages by Wu Peng-nien 吳彭年, Wu Tang-hsing 吳湯興, Hsu Hsiang 徐驤, Chiang Shao-tsu 姜紹祖, Lin Chao-tung 林朝棟, Hsu Chao-ching 許肇清, Li Pin-san 李品三, Hsiao Kuang-ming 蕭光明, Chiu Feng-chia 丘逢甲, Liu Yung-fu 劉永福, Chien Ta-shih 簡大獅, Ke Tieh 柯鐵, Lin Shao-mao 林少貓, Yu Ching-fang 余清芳, Luo Chun 羅俊, Chiang Ting 江定, Luo Fu-hsing 羅福星 and Lin Tsu-mi 林祖密. The mid stages of resistance were led by a new generation of activists who struggled for autonomy and democracy. These 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 and Tsai Pei-huo 蔡培火.
Anti-Japanese sentiment in the last stages manifested itself in different forms. While Tsai Chung-shu 蔡忠恕 and Li Chien-hsing 李建興 carried on underground movements in Taiwan, others played an active role in mainland China in the resistance against Japan. For example, Li Yu-bang 李友邦 and Sung Fei-ju 宋斐如 organized the Taiwan Revolutionary Alliance, Chiu Nien-tai 丘念台 led the Guangdong eastern regional service corps against Japan, and Li Wan-chu 李萬居 participated in the Institute of International Studies. Moreover, Hsieh Tung-min 謝東閔 was a contributor to the Guangxi Daily News, Lin Cheng-heng 林正亨 joined the Chinese Expeditionary Force to Burma and Huang Chao-chin 黃朝琴 assumed key positions in the ROC foreign service. They all made great contributions in the fight against Japanese aggression. The activists worked for the common cause of bringing Taiwan back into the fold of the ROC, performing epic deeds that continue to touch us generations later.
The surge of nationalist sentiments provoked by the Ching dynasty’s decision to cede Taiwan following China’s defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War eventually brought about the collapse of the Ching imperial court. Thereafter, the Republic of China was founded as the first republic in Asia. The wave of national revolutions and resistance to Japanese rule paid off when Taiwan emerged free from 50 years of colonial rule and returned to the ROC.
In 1895, when Taiwanese poet and educator Chiu Feng-chia failed in an uprising against Japanese troops, he fled to mainland China where he lamented that “the viceroy has the power to cede territory, but a lone official has not the strength to reverse that decision.” On the anniversary of Taiwan’s annexation, he wrote in another well-known poem that “four million people cry as one at Taiwan’s cession on this day a year ago.” Over a century later, these verses still evoke deep anguish. Although a lone official did not have the strength to turn the tide, concerted efforts by the armed forces and civilians of the Republic of China were able, under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, to bring about Japan’s surrender and the retrocession of Taiwan. This chapter in history is to be cherished for the mutual assistance and close interactions between mainland Chinese and Taiwanese compatriots in reclaiming Taiwan.
Today, as we commemorate the victory of the ROC’s resistance against Japanese aggression and the retrocession of Taiwan, we are marking the beginning of peace and the end of conflict. Our intent is not to harbor ill will toward nor stand in opposition to Japan, but to remember the sacrifices of our forebears, without which Taiwan would not be the free, democratic and prosperous society it has become today. We can forgive the Japanese invaders and colonists for their acts of aggression, but we will never forget the blood and tears that have been shed by our people, and we must never allow it to happen again.
This photographic retrospective is of significant educational value. It teaches us about the inseparable ties that have linked Taiwan and mainland China for over a century, as well as how Taiwan was liberated from Japanese invasion and colonialism and restored to the ROC. The images also bear witness to the truth of Japanese aggression and the horrors of war, but more importantly, remind us of how precious and valuable peace is. This is done in the hope that ROC citizens will draw inspiration from these lessons in history and come together to build a stronger and brighter future for Taiwan.
1Charles I. Bevans,Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949, Vol. 3 (Multilateral 1931-1945), Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1969, pp. 858, 1204-1205, 1251-1253; United States Statutes at Large, Vol. 59, Part II, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946, pp. 1733-1739; United Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 139, New York: United Nations, 1952, pp. 387-393.