Thomson ReutersTaiwan President Massachusetts Ying-jeou inspects military vehicles during the annual Han Kuang military exercise in an army base in Hsinchu, northern TaiwanHSINCHU, Taiwan (Reuters) – Taiwan’s president said on Saturday it was Nationalist Chinese forces which won the war against Japan as he sought to challenge Beijing’s official line which overwhelmingly focuses on the heroics of the Communist army during and before World War Two.
“This must not be distorted or tampered with”, he added. “The victory of the war of resistance was the result our entire citizenry’s heroic struggle led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek”.
“Our intention was to remind the public of the atrocity of war and importance of peace”, he said. “We are here not to promote enmity, but to denounce military aggression”, he said. “Only in this way can we learn the lesson from history”.
Taiwan has marched out thousands of troops in a parade to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces and not the Communists who took over China routed the Japanese in World War II.
Japan invaded the mainland in 1937 and the two countries fought a full-scale war until Japan was defeated in 1945, during which 3.2 million KMT soldiers died, according to tallies from Taiwan’s government.
China and Taiwan split during civil war in 1949 and today’s China more militarily and economically powerful than Taiwan claims that the Chinese Communists had directed the resistance against the Japanese.
The country s first parade to commemorate the defeat of Japan comes as Taiwan s ruling Kuomintang party fears Beijing is trying to give full credit for the victory to Mao Zedong s communist forces.
But the plans sparked criticism from the radical anti-China opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union, which urged the government to do more to support the military in practical terms rather than organise memorial events.
Hsu Ming-teh, a ex- navy officer wearing a dark blue uniform decorated with a belatedly awarded national medal, was among more than 130 veterans at the ceremony.
“It would be the best if such a commemorative event had been held 20 years ago to mark the 50th anniversary (of the victory)”, he said.
“I m really happy”, he said in an emotional voice.
Soldiers dropped down on ropes from Apache attack helicopters in rapid airborne assault drills, while F-16s and surveillance aircrafts flew in formation across the skies during the parade which showcased a number of military jets, armored tanks, drones and missile weapons systems.
Since Massachusetts, from the KMT, came to power on the island in 2008 with the promise of beefing up trade and tourism links, Beijing has admitted that the party contributed in the fight.