What you need to know
Former President of Taiwan Lee Teng-hui writes, "(70 years ago) Taiwan and Japan were the same country. If we were part of the same country, then saying that Taiwan was at war with Japan isn't true at all."
Former President Lee Teng-hui has mentioned in the Japanese magazine, Voice, that Taiwan was a part of Japan when the island was occupied by the Japanese. He says Taiwan did not have issues of the War of Resistance against Japan, only anti-Japanese protests. Lee also says President Ma Ying-jeou’s memorial of the Japanese war is to harass Japan and please the Chinese Communist Party.
On August 20, Ma criticized Lee of “selling out Taiwan, humiliating the people and degrading himself" and asked him to apologize to the Taiwanese people.
Regarding this, Lee’s office issued a statement today reiterating that the War of Resistance against Japan is a KMT-influenced historical point of view, not actual facts. Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen points out that Lee’s statement is based on personal historical experience, and Taiwan is an open society that should respect different interpretations of history.
Storm Media reports, Lee recently emphasized the importance of Taiwan-Japanese relationships in the right-wing Japanese magazine, Voice.
The magazine states Japan and Taiwan have a deep relationship in history and culture, and former president Lee pays more attention than anyone else to the bond between the two countries.
Regarding President Ma’s plans to hold a memorial celebrating the 70-year anniversary of the victory in the Anti-Japanese War, Lee says the president is defying the truth. Lee writes, “(70 years ago) Taiwan and Japan were the same country. If we were part of the same country, then saying that Taiwan was at war with Japan isn’t true at all."
UDN reports, when asked about his thoughts of Lee’s words on Voice, President Ma criticizes how can Lee face the 20 million soldiers and civilians that sacrificed themselves in the war? The president says, Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895 and the Taiwanese fought for twenty years, leading to more than a hundred thousand casualties and injured in just the first five months. It wasn’t until after 1920 was the war demilitarized. The island was recovered from Japan after the Second Sino-Japanese War and holds a profound significance.
Liberty Times reports, director of Lee Teng-hui‘s office, Wang Yan-jun, says Lee was interviewed by Voice on July 8 and mainly discussed future economic relationships between Taiwan and Japan.
Wang points out that Lee said in the interview that 70 years ago, Taiwan was in the Japanese colonial period and there were anti-Japanese activities at the time, but no so-called issues of war against Japan. The office isn’t clear on how the magazine edited the interview and the office didn’t have a hand in the Chinese translation either.
Wang says that some members of the KMT still want to manipulate issues concerning unification and ethnicity in order to provoke social confrontation and hatred. It is also a way for them to boost their image in the presidential election. Wang says this not only deprives the national leaders of the qualities they should possess, but also doesn’t help their depressing status in the upcoming election.
NOWnews reports that DPP Chairman and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen says Lee’s opinion is based on his personal experience of history. But there are many different people in Taiwan’s society and they all have different memories and interpretation of history.
Tsai says, “The greatest sorrow of the Taiwanese in the past hundred years is that we have no way to control their own destiny."
She also says that the most important thing is to accept different interpretations of history so that the society can come together and democracy can grow stronger. Giving our next generation a complete and free right to decide is the goal and mission of our society at this stage.
Translated by Olivia Yang