President accuses Lee Teng-hui of 'betraying Taiwan'

08/20/2015 10:58 PM
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Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou accused former President Lee Teng-hui Thursday of "betraying Taiwan, humiliating its people and debasing himself" by denying Taiwanese efforts to free themselves from Japanese colonial rule.

Ma joined the ruling Kuomintang and pro-government scholars in denouncing the former president and KMT chairman for eulogizing Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan and refusing to recognize Taiwanese participation in the Republic of China's 1937-45 war of resistance against Japan.

In an "urgent letter to the editor" of Japan's Voice magazine, Lee claimed that the so-called Taiwanese participation in the war of resistance against Japan is not a fact and that Ma staged a series of events this year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Sino-Japanese War and World War II in order to "curry favor with China," according to a CNA report from Tokyo.

In the September issue of Voice, Lee also stressed that his own elder brother, Lee Teng-chin (李登欽), joined the Japanese navy during the war and died in battle in the Philippines.

"We two brothers, as Japanese, were fighting for our fatherland (Japan)," he was quoted as saying.

Wang Yen-chun (王燕軍), director of Lee's office, pointed out in Taipei that Lee was interviewed by Voice editors in early August and that what Lee said at that time, carried in the latest issue of the magazine, is "not a letter to the editor."

The theme of the interview was economic exchanges between Taiwan and Japan and the future prospects of Taiwan-Japan relations, Wang said.

Lee's interview was titled "A New Phase of Taiwan-Japan Cooperation Is Unveiled" in the special edition of the magazine, whose cover story is "Don't Defeat the Abe Regime."

In the article, Lee also talked about the controversial issue of comfort women, claiming that the matter has been settled in Taiwan and there is no need to raise it any more.

Lee also derided Ma, who had served as his English translator, as someone who had never shown any concern about comfort women.

In response, President Ma's spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) said Ma's long-time and consistent support for Taiwanese comfort women is widely known and well reported -- something "not easily wiped out by Lee Teng-hui's random remarks."

Chen called Lee "not knowledgeable and cold-blooded" in regard to the sex slave issue. If Lee really thinks the issue has been solved, "I suggest that he go see the movie 'The Song of Reed,'" Chen said, referring to a documentary being screened in several cities across Taiwan about the traumatic experience of now elderly Taiwanese women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army.

Ma was particularly angry at Lee's lukewarm attitude toward the Taiwanese comfort women and denial of Taiwanese compatriots' efforts to gain independence from Japanese colonialists.

Before attending a musical concert marking the ROC's victory in its war against Japan and the retrocession of Taiwan, Ma said he was "shocked and pained" by such remarks from someone who had been president of this country for 12 years from 1988-2000 and is still enjoying preferential treatment as a retired head of state.

He demanded that Lee "take back his words" and sincerely apologize to Taiwan's people.

KMT spokesman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) said Japan was never a real "fatherland" for Taiwanese people and Lee's statement in that regard could never be accepted by the people of Taiwan.

By echoing the right-wingers in Japan, Lee was actually hurting the autonomy of Taiwanese people and regrettably diminishing the historical significance of the Taiwanese nationalist movement, Yang added.

Wang, of Lee's office, countered that Taiwanese resistance against Japan was aimed only at Japan's governor of Taiwan, and was not a part of China's resistance against Japanese aggression.

Wang called on the general public to study history from different perspectives and tolerate all sorts of standpoints, instead of allowing the "perspective gaps" to exacerbate social conflicts.

However, Wang Hsiao-po (王曉波), convener of the Ministry of Education's controversial revision committee on school curriculum guidelines, cited several historical facts to prove that Taiwan was indeed a colony of Japan and Taiwan's residents at the time were not legal citizens of Japan.

For instance, Wang Hsiao-po said, Japan and Germany were occupied by Allied forces at the end of World War II but Taiwan and Korea were not -- proof that the international community considered Taiwan and Korea as former colonies of Japan and the people of Taiwan and Korea were not legal citizens of Japan.

Tsai Wei (蔡瑋), a Chinese Culture University professor, said Lee's wayward remarks as printed by the Japanese magazine show him to be a man of poor logic and aberration, a man who cannot tell facts from illusions and who has gone berserk.

The word "traitor" would be an apt word to describe a man who has been enjoying all benefits provided by Taiwan's tax payers but has devoted all his loyalty to their former colonizer, Tsai said.

(By Claudia Liu, Chen Chih-chung, Lu Hsin-hui, Hsieh Chia-chen and S.C. Chang)


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