Taiwan will hold a military display sometime this summer to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, a Taiwanese defense ministry spokesperson said last week.
According to CNA, spokesman Major General Lou Shou-he told reporters that Taiwan was planning a military display to be held in northern Taiwan, in Hsinchu county. Lo made the comment in response to a question about whether or not Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou would inspect Taiwanese troops on the anniversary of the end of the World War II.
During his first briefing before Taiwan’s legislature, new Defense Minister Kao Kuang-chi said the military display would be similar in scale to the one held in 2011, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China. According to the China Post, the 2011 military display included “71 aircraft of various types, 168 ground vehicles and 1,802 officers and soldiers” and featured Taiwan’s “biggest ever air show.”
The military display will be part of a series of events held by Taiwan’s military to mark the anniversary, including concerts, exhibitions, and special programs opening select military bases to the public. “These special events are to commemorate the bravery and daunting efforts of our troops and those who sacrificed their lives for the nation,” Luo said in January, when the programs were announced. Taiwan also plans to dedicate part of its commemorative activities to the theme of post-war “peace and cooperation between the Chinese people and the Japanese people.”
Previously, a ruling party legislator, Lin Yu-fang, had suggested holding a full-fledged military parade in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei to mark the end of the war. Taiwan’s defense ministry decided for the more modest option of a display held at a military parade ground.
Mainland China has already announced that it will hold a military parade to commemorate the anniversary. Chinese President Xi Jinping will inspect the troops. Beijing has also announced that world leaders from all the major combatants in World War II will be invited to attend; Russian President Vladimir Putin, at least, is widely expected to be there.
Taiwan, of course, will not be able to invite world leaders to attend its own military display thanks to the complex nature of cross-strait relations. But the government wants to ensure that the contributions made by Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government are not forgotten. Lin, who championed the idea of a full military parade, said such a display would be important for reminding the world that the ROC shared in the triumph of World War II. Without active commemoration from Taipei, Lin cautioned, the government could lose ground in a perceived battle over whether the Nationalists or the Chinese Communist troops are remembered as having contributed more to the fight against Japan.
“China has to understand that it cannot distort the historical fact of the ROC’s predominant role in the triumph in the Second Sino-Japanese War,” CNA paraphrased a defense ministry official as saying.