Today is the 2nd anniversary of Chao-Jung Hsu's death, a Taiwanese WWII veteran. His tragic fate reflects the complex history of Taiwan which have been governed by various colonial powers in the last century. Hsu was born in Taiwan on 13 of November 1928 and committed suicide on 20 of May 2008 in a political protest. He was forced to fight for colonizers of his country land, first Japan and then Republic of China (ROC). When he finally was able to make his choice, he devoted his life for his fellow veterans’ welfare.
Taiwan was Japan's colony during the WWII, and Hsu was drafted into the Japanese army. When Republic of China (ROC) claimed the sovereign over Taiwan after WWII, the the Chinese Civil War was resumed, and he was drafted into the ROC army again to fight in mainland China. He retreated back to Taiwan in 1949 when ROC lost the battle. He was lucky comparing to many of his colleagues who died in the battle.
However, during the White Terror Period (1949-1987), Hsu was prosecuted by Guomingtang and imprisoned for 10 years for possession of a book on Taiwan independent movement. He was released in 1968 and became a political refugee in 1980. He eventually settled in Toronto, where he started searching for his army colleague's remains in China through the Taiwanese Association in Beijing. Hsu returned back to Taiwan in 1992 after the Taiwan government abolished the “black list” of political dissidents, since then, he devoted all his time to the welfare of overseas Taiwanese veterans. He found out that there were many Taiwanese veterans left behind by the ROC army in China after the the Chinese Civil War. Some of them were captured by the People Liberation Army (PLA) and fought for them in the Civil War and later in the Korean War.
All these veterans were forced to fight for the powers that enslaved them, michaelcarolina sighed,
Being the ultimate victims of the War, many overseas Taiwanese veterans could not return back to their home in Taiwan due to the tension across the Strait. Hsu decided to organize a campaign to to bring these Taiwanese WWII veterans back home.
As a result of the campaign, Hsu found out that most of the overseas Taiwanese veterans in China and other Southeast Asia countries (those drafted by Japanese army deployed to the Southeast Asia) were in very difficult and miserable situation politically, economically, and psychologically. They were left behind in an alien land during the WWII, became political exiles and did not receive any pension from the ROC army nor Japanese army even though they had fulfilled the duty as a solider.
In order to fight for the rights of his fellow veterans, Hsu organized talks, held a number protests and hunger strike and eventually founded the Association of Taiwanese Veterans in 1994.
Apart from material compensation, Hsu felt the need to remind Taiwanese people of the WWII history from the life history of Taiwanese veterans. He decided to build a memorial for his fellow veterans.
In a protest against the Kaohsiung City Council's decision on 20 of May 2008, Hsu burned himself to death. One year later in 2009 May 20, the “War and Peace Park” was open to the public and below is a video clip (produced by TWIMI) on the Opening:
The Association of Taiwanese Veterans he founded continues to collect life stories of Taiwanese veterans and help Taiwanese understand the history of Taiwanese soldiers in WWII. Every May 20th, people gathered in the War and Peace Park in memory of Taiwanese veterans and Chao-Jung Hsu.
Thank you for reminding us this important figure and the history that should not be forgotten.
I want to thank our editor Oiwan. Without her help, this article could not be published on time and in such an organized form.
actually, i learned a lot editing this post. the life history tells a lot more than official history.
I’m sorry to have found this article so late, but I’m thankful to I-fan Lin and Oiwan Lam for getting it written and published nonetheless.
The horrors of WW2 are still monumentally consequential to this day and the destruction it wreaked across the lives of individuals like Hsu must never be allowed to recede from the horizon of cultural memory.