This is the story of the Japanese prisoner of war camps on the island of Taiwan (Formosa) during the Second World War and of the men who were interned in them.
It seems that many people know about the hardship and suffering of the POW's working on the Death Railway in Thailand and Burma, but few know about the "hell-camps" of Taiwan. We hope to tell the story of the suffering and deprivation endured by the POW's so that all will know - and hopefully never forget!
Our site contains descriptions of the prison camps, a detailed list of all the former prisoners, an honour roll of those who died, and the story of the
Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society.
On February 23rd Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito, son of the present Emperor Akihito, grandson of wartime Emperor Hirohito and heir to the Japanese throne, spoke out in stark contrast to the position that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his right wing extremists are taking in Japan today with regards to issues on WWII.
His speech has been widely praised on social media around the world and many Japanese see this as hope for better future relations between Japan and the rest of the world. However the majority of Japanese media did not cover the event very well in keeping with the present regime’s suppression and manipulation of freedom of the press now raging in that country.
It is wonderful to read the Crown Prince’s comments, and also the support for them by the public in the original article published in Japan Today at this link –
It is hoped that Naruhito’s speech will embolden the Japanese people to take a stand against Abe and that it also may be a warning to Abe to back off from his present extremist and revisionist policies – time will tell.
Crown prince warns of need to remember World War II 'correctly'
JAPAN TODAY - Feb. 23, 2015 - 04:00PM JST
Japan’s crown prince has warned of the need to remember World War II “correctly”, in a rare foray into an ideological debate as nationalist politicians seek to downplay the country’s historic crimes.
In an unusual intervention in the discussion, Naruhito’s mild-mannered broadside was being interpreted in some circles as a rebuke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a key figure in the right-wing drive to minimise the institutionalised system of wartime sex slavery.
“Today when memories of war are set to fade, I believe it is important to look back at our past with modesty and pass down correctly the miserable experience and the historic path Japan took from the generation who knew the war to the generation who don’t,” Naruhito said.
The comments, released Monday on the prince’s 55th birthday, come as Abe’s controversial views on history roil relations with China and South Korea, and cause unease in Washington.
Abe has openly said he wants a more sympathetic telling of the history of the first half of the 20th century, a period marked by brutal expansionism in Asia and warring with China and the West.
The prime minister last week appointed a 16-member panel to advise him on a statement he is set to make later this year to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender.
Abe has said he will largely stand by Tokyo’s previous apologies, but amid growing anger in China and South Korea over the “comfort women” system, speculation is mounting that he will seek to downplay the issue.
While Japan’s newspapers remained staid in their coverage of Naruhito’s comments, social media users leapt on them.
“This definitely contains a warning against Shinzo Abe, doesn’t it?” tweeted @Kirokuro.
“It is a regular recognition (of history), but these comments by the crown prince stand out because Prime Minister Abe’s views on the constitution and history are outrageous,” said @kazu_w50
Asked about his views on war and peace, Naruhito told reporters: “It was very painful that many precious lives were lost, many people suffered and felt deep sorrow in the world including in Japan.”
“It is important that we never forget people who died in the war… (and we must) deepen our appreciation for our past so as not to repeat the horrors of war and to foster a love of peace,” he said.
Abe is having his people begging American textbook companies to whitewash the sex slavery issue and meanwhile the Crown Prince is saying those actions must not be forgotten by today’s generation.
Hopefully the Prince can blunt the fascist efforts by Abe to turn Japan into the country his grandfather created. And we all know how that turned out.
The dates for this year’s Remembrance Week Event have been finalized.
Our event will take place from November 11 – 18, 2015.
As usual, we will have visits to the former POW camp sites complete with memorial services, local sightseeing tours, and of course the Remembrance Day service at the Taiwan POW Memorial on the site of the former Kinkaseki POW Camp in Jinguashi. More information will be forthcoming later in the year.
We hope that former POWs and their families will make an effort to come as we have a special program prepared for these guests. If you are interested in attending, and for more information, please contact the Society by email or mail (please see the "contacts" page). Hope to see you in November!
World War II could have ended in February 1945 – even before the Germans surrendered in May – read on……
DID YOU KNOW? - February 14, 2015 is the seventieth anniversary of the day that the senior Japanese statesman Prince Konoe Fumimaro presented a report to Hirohito in which he told the emperor that after a continuous string of defeats the war was irrevocably lost and that he should surrender unconditionally immediately.
Hirohito’s fateful negative response was that they were going to try one more time and then see what happened, and on February 16th - just two days later, the Americans launched their attack on Iwo Jima. This was followed by the Battle of Okinawa which commenced six weeks later on April 1st. On June 23 that battle ended, and more than 77,000 Japanese soldiers and almost 150,000 Okinawan civilians had died following this decision by the emperor.
Confirmed by documents beyond any doubt was the emperor’s stubborn insistence on delaying surrender when defeat was clearly inevitable. The subsequent fire-bombing of Japanese cities which took place through March and April, and the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed as fateful consequences of his decision to postpone surrender. So the Japanese people should not blame the US and its Allies for the destruction of their country and the terrible loss of life, but rather their own emperor!
Critical historic works show that from the start of his reign in 1926 Hirohito was not a pacifist and simple monarch, but rather a dynamic activist and leader who was very pro-active in the military affairs of Japan.
In case anyone is in doubt - it was Hirohito who was responsible for commanding and leading Japan’s war efforts. It is well known that he participated in guiding the war in China from 1937 onward, and later joined the war party selecting Gen. Hideki Tojo as prime minister in October 1941, and thereafter expanding the China conflict to the vast Asia-Pacific region in December of that year. He personally ordered the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore and subsequently the rest of SE Asia.
Above: Hirohito (centre) plotting war strategy with his generals.
Right: On his favorite horse reviewing the Japanese troops.
He alone was supreme commander of the armed forces, directly commanding the army and navy. He was chief priest of the State Shinto religion, superintendent of all the powers of sovereignty, and the nation’s teacher of morality. In addition, the constitution gave priority to his imperial will rather than the Cabinet’s, so he had total and complete control of the government as well as the military. Hirohito knew quite well he was not a living deity, but thought it good if the people - and especially his armed forces, believed he was. That way they would obey his wishes fanatically.
It is sad to think that more than a million Japanese military personnel and civilians had to die in the six months following the emperor's fateful decision to postpone the surrender, when all the death and destruction that followed during that time could have been avoided.
Now the current Right Wing Japanese government and some modern western revisionists are trying to propagate the myth that Hirohito was just a puppet emperor and a pacifist, and had nothing to do with Japan's war efforts. How sad that due to political correctness, fear of offending the Japanese and for whatever other reasons, the truth of history is once again being distorted.
(L) Japanese photo of murdered Chinese POWs at Nanking (R) Murdered Nazi victims in Auschwitz
Recently there have been services of commemoration and remembrance held at the former Auschwitz Concentration Camp to remember the Holocaust and the six million or more who died in Europe at the hands of the evil Nazi regime. Leading those ceremonies were repesentatives of the present German government.
However 70 years on, Japan is still trying to deny and cover up the brutal and cruel treatment it perpetrated all across Asia in World War II, and which resulted in the deaths of more than 30 million people – over 5 times more than died in all of the European death camps! This figure includes innocent civilians, allied prisoners of war, civilian internees and comfort women, and sadly not many in the western world know of this, and sadder yet, few really seem to care.
The Japanese claim they are the ‘innocent victims’ of the atomic bombings and often try to compare their situation to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust, but the atomic bombings and the holocaust cannot be compared at all. Equating the carnage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to that of Auschwitz and the other Nazi death camps belies the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were major military centers of a nation at war, which was also an ally of the Nazis, and which committed horrendous atrocities of its own, while the Jews and other innocent civilians in Europe did nothing to the Germans. “In Auschwitz there were no combatants… and they were all killed indiscriminately.”
In Nanking, Hong Kong, Singapore and other places in the Far East, we are literally brought face to face with the results of the Japanese terror. In Singapore, we are confronted with the actual sites of mass killings of Chinese and other Asians. In Hong Kong it is said that the screams of those innocents being raped and murdered on the mainland could be heard across the harbour by the troops on Hong Kong Island. In Nanking there is the Holocaust Museum with its volumes of documented examples of the horrific mass murder of hundreds of thousands. In Shenyang and Harbin were see the evidence of yet more atrocities. Here in Taiwan we have 14 former POW camps.
If Japan would acknowledge and apologize for all its atrocities in the Far East in World War II, like Germany has done in Europe, then – and only then, will there be true peace and reconciliation between Japan and the rest of the world community. With PM Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing extremist government’s current campaign to deny its past and to try to revise history, this only brings more shame and less respect for Japan and sadly too for its people. Let us pray that things may change, and this 70th anniversary year of the end of World War II would be the ideal time. Sadly it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon - if ever, if Abe has his way!
Japanese nationalists have labelled Angelina Jolie a racist and there have been calls for her to be banned from the country for directing the movie "UNBROKEN".
With the release of the movie - the story of the life of Olympic athlete and Japanese POW Louis Zamperini, a Right Wing Japanese organization started a petition to ban the movie from being shown in Japan. It cites the movie as racist, immoral and demonic, and denies that the Japanese committed atrocities like those depicted in the film.
A counter petition was started as an answer to the Japanese petition and has seen a good response, but now additional info has come to light .....
UPDATE: FEBRUARY 5, 2015
From the latest news on the web, we understand that both Universal Studios and the Japanese distribution company Toho-Towa may not want to show UNBROKEN in Japan at all because - so they say - it makes no financial sense. It is not really about money but rather about shielding the Japanese from viewing the kinds of war crimes that were committed, and we wonder if Universal and Toho-Towa are aware that they are thus promoting the agenda of the Japanese nationalists who argue that the wartime suffering of millions of victims never took place. .
That a first-rate movie about an actual war hero can’t get shown because it might hurt feelings in Japan is a deplorable decision by Universal, showing as much cowardice as Louis Zamperini had courage.
We have urged Universal and the distribution company in Japan to show UNBROKEN and break through the wall of denials, revisionism and ignorance. If they don’t, we have to ask ourselves whether Hollywood can no longer be trusted to stand up for freedom of speech - something many have wondered about for years, and the Japanese also have to wonder if they live in a true democracy. As a world community, we can do and should do better…
We encourage people to continue to sign the petition to stop the continued effort by Japan to deny and censor its war record and crimes. To read more about this issue and to sign the petition CLICK HERE. and let us show the Japanese government that they cannot continue to whitewash and cover up the true historical facts of what took place in World War II, and that we stand behind Angelina and her film - and the truth.
Last fall the Imperial War Museum made a bizarre and disgraceful decision to close its library, make all the library staff redundant and close education programs in order to meet a £4M deficit.
The issue of a worldwide petition to try to stop this senseless act of government was met with tremendous response and as a result some positive things have happened - read on ....
UPDATE: February 7, 2015
It has been announced that the IWM Library collection will be saved and the library and the Explore History facility in London will remain open. This is great news and shows the power that the ‘people’ have through petitioning. We would like to thank everyone who has supported the campaign, however there are still concerns over some of the details.
Despite the initial success, plans are now being developed to reduce the opening hours of the Research Room; introduce charges for its use, and review the enquiry services that will be available to the public in the future. There will also be redundancies among staff who collectively have more than 220 years of experience in helping visitors and working with the library collection, so clearly there are still issues and details that need to be resolved.
There is great opposition to charging for access to museum collections that are held on behalf of the nation, and there is concern that reduced opening hours for the Research Room will present problems for visitors. We also wish to ensure that the library collection continues to grow.
Until it is clearly set forth that these other changes will not be implemented, the petition will be kept open – the library and Research Room need to be maintained as they are now, in order to give the public the best access to the facilities and services of the Museum. So please click on the following link to read more and to sign the petition.
It will only take a few minutes to add your signature and thus hopefully help save a treasure that can never be replaced and services to the public which will be lost. Thank you for your support.
Democracy took root in Japan nearly 70 years ago after the end of World War II. Who would have thought that someone could overturn it so easily? But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has done just that !
For the past two years we have featured articles on the homepage regarding the sweeping changes taking place in Japan under the LDP government of Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing extremists since they came to power in December 2012.
We have shown from reports and studies, first hand news accounts and references, how the Abe government wants to return to the extreme Right Wing policies of former times, how they want to rescind the so-called apologies made by former prime ministers and renounce the previous stand on the Comfort Women, now saying that they were simply prostitutes and that they were necessary and that they were not co-erced or forced by the Japanese military to perform services for the troops. In this time they have forced new laws through their parliament limiting the rights and freedoms of Japanese people, and in a similar manner this spring have by-passed Japan's pacifist constitution in order to make it possible for Japan to wage war again. Even more alarmingly, they will continue to limit or abolish human rights and freedoms, so they can persecute those who differ with their opinion or who want to peacefully gather in protests.
If one looks back at the history of the 20th Century, one can clearly see that these were also the policies adopted and propagated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis when they came to power in Germany 82 years ago in 1933! After being in power only 2 years many Japanese people are already calling Shinzo Abe a "Fascist" and "Public Enemy No. 1".
All of the previous articles from the homepage have been saved together in our Articles and Stories Section of the website. For those who are interested, please CLICK HERE to read the series of articles which reveal the startling changes which have taken place, and which will continue to take place in the near future under this extreme regime. Things have happened so fast in Japan in the past 2 years that is has been hard to keep up and one wonders what the future holds for the people of Japan and as well, its Asian neighbours!
January 31, 2015 - Update to "Asian War Graves and Memorial Photos" article in the Articles & Stories Section - new cemeteries in Bangladesh and Afghanistan - Camp Bastion Wall added.
January 8, 2015 - Update - "18 Years of Researching, Remembering and Honouring the Taiwan POWs" in the Articles & Stories Section.
December 6, 2014 - Fall-Winter 2014 newsletter uploaded to the site. Click here or go to the Society Section and click on the newsletter in the Newsletters box.
November 30, 2014 - The "A LOOK AT THE WAR CRIMINALS' MEMORIALS" feature added to the Articles & Stories Section.
November 25, 2014 - Update to "Asian War Graves and Memorial Photos" article in the Articles & Stories Section - new cemeteries in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and more added.
Sept. 12, 2014 - The "September 1944 Hellships" feature added to the Articles & Stories Section.
Sept. 11, 2014 - Update to the Collection of articles and reports on Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing Gov't. and the downfall of Japan's democracy - in the Articles & Stories section.
August 28, 2014 - Photo of L/Bdr. Robert Bickford added to the story "OTHER COMMONWEALTH PRISONERS OF WAR " in the Articles & Stories section.
June 25, 2014 - Spring-Summer 2014 Society Newsletter uploaded to the site. Click here or go to the Society Section and click on the newsletter in the Newsletters box.
May 20, 2014 - Collection of articles and reports on Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing Gov't. and their return to former WWII attitudes and the downfall of Japan's democracy under this regime. Click here to read the articles which are constantly being updated.
March 3, 2014 - Addition of the "Remembrance Day at Kinkaseki" slide show - link on the homepage and story in the Articles & Stories Section.
February 13, 2014 - Updates to almost all of the articles and stories in the Articles & Stories Section with more information as well as addititional and enlarged photos. In particular the articles on the hellships, the further Japanese atrocities and the memorial to the American airmen at the old Taipei Prison, the Other Commonwealth POWs and the forgotten South Africans.
We would like to remind our viewers that this website is a work in progress, so be sure to check back often.
In 2009 six former Taiwan POWs returned to Taiwan to join in the annual Remembrance Day service at Kinkaseki. Society supporter and good friend Chen, Hsiao - Fang produced a slide show of the event and we invite you to watch it and remember these men to whom we owe a debt that can never be repaid. Click here to view the presentation.
Lest We Forget!
LISTEN TO THE POWS' STORY
Society director Michael Hurst is featured in two radio interviews with Radio Taiwan International. We invite you to:
To listen to these programs click the links below -
UPDATE JAN. 2015 - MORE CEMETERIES AND MEMORIALS ADDED !
Do you need a photo of a loved ones' grave or name on a memorial in the Far East?
Welcome to the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP.
We are a group comprised of FEPOW organizations and researchers located in the Far East and we are dedicated to providing good quality photos of war graves and the names on the various memorials from the war cemeteries located all across Asia - FREE OF CHARGE - with the sole aim of keeping the memory of the veterans alive, so present and future generations will not forget the sacrifices they have made so far from home.
We specialize in photos of the names on all the memorials across Asia. We have all 25,000 names on the SINGAPORE / KRANJI MEMORIAL, all 27,000 names on the TAUKKYAN / RANGOON MEMORIAL, as well as all the other memorials such as SAI WAN, YOKOHAMA and LABUAN. We are happy to be able to supply names from all the memorials as well - FREE of CHARGE!
Click here...to find out further information on the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP, the war cemeteries and memorials covered, and the other services that are provided - FREE OF CHARGE!
We are pleased to announce that since the creation of the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP in JULY 2012, we have distributed almost 15,000 FREE war grave and memorial photos!
Another great source for FREE worldwide War Grave & Memorial photos . . .
An excellent organization in the UK with a website offering thousands of FREE war grave and memorial photos worldwide is British War Graves - War Graves Photographs. Founded and operated for over 10 years by Mick McCann in the UK, the site provides photos for almost all the world’s war cemeteries and more FREE.
Click here for more information on free war grave and memorial photos and to visit their website.
The Society has been urgently seeking information regarding the POWs who were evacuated from Taiwan on September 6, 1945 on the aircraft carrier USS Santee CVE-29, and the Destroyer Escorts USS Brister DE-327 and USS Finch DE-328. We have searched various archives to try to find the ships' deck logs and service records, but up to now nothing has turned up.
However, thanks to some help from a researcher friend in the US, we have found the complete list of men carried on the USS Finch. So that just leaves the USS Brister and USS Santee that we still need complete lists for.
If there are any former crew members of these ships who know of the lists that were made and where they might now be, please kindly get in touch with us.
We would also like to hear from former POWs and their families if they have any knowledge that their relative or anyone they knew sailed on either of these two ships. We would be very grateful for any help we can get.
USS Santee - CVE-29 USS Brister - DE-327