A visit by Taiwanese pro-independence politicians to Japan’s Yasukuni shrine has triggered a heated ideological argument, exposing the historical roots of the island’s confused national identity and highlighting Taiwan’s attempts to take advantage of the rising tensions between Japan and China.
Shu Chin-chiang, chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, visited the shrine in Tokyo on Monday along with three other TSU law-makers. The shrine commemorates 2.5m war dead including 14 convicted war criminals. Mr Shu, however, said the group wanted to pay homage to more than 28,000 Taiwanese who died while fighting for Japan during the second world war.
Since the legislators’ return to Taipei, politicians and scholars have been quarrelling over what did more harm to the island and its people – the Japanese colonial regime in the first half of the 20th century or the Kuomintang’s authoritarian rule after it fled mainland China to set up a nationalist regime in Taiwan in 1949.