Retrocession Day

Taiwan Retrocession Day
Observed by Taiwan
Type Historical, cultural, nationalist
Date 25 October 1945
Frequency annual

Taiwan Retrocession Day (Chinese: 臺灣光復節; pinyin: Táiwān guāngfùjié) is an annual observance and unofficial holiday in Taiwan to commemorate the end of 50 years of Japanese rule of the island and its handover ("retrocession"; see Controversy section below) to the Republic of China on October 25, 1945.[1][2]

Historical background

Taiwan, then more commonly known to the Western world as "Formosa", became a colony of the Empire of Japan when the Qing Empire lost the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894 and ceded the island with the signing of the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki. Japanese rule in Taiwan lasted until the end of World War II.

In November 1943, Chiang Kai-shek took part in the Cairo Conference with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who firmly advocated that Japan be required to return all of the territory it had annexed into its empire, including Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation, drafted by the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union and China in July 1945, reiterated that the provisions of the Cairo Declaration be thoroughly carried out, and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender stated Japan's agreement to the terms of the Potsdam Proclamation.

Under the authorisation of Douglas MacArthur's General Order No. 1, Chen Yi was escorted by George Kerr to Taiwan to accept the Japanese government's surrender as the Chinese delegate. When the Japanese surrendered at the end of World War II, General Rikichi Andō, governor-general of Taiwan and commander-in-chief of all Japanese forces on the island, signed an instrument of surrender and handed it over to General Chen Yi of the Kuomintang (KMT) military to complete the official turnover in Taipei (known previously as Taihoku) on October 25, 1945, at the Taipei City Hall (now Zhongshan Hall). Chen Yi proclaimed that day to be "Taiwan Retrocession Day" and organised the island into the Taiwan Province. Taiwan has since been governed by the Republic of China, and since 1949 has made up most of the country's territory, along with Kinmen, Matsu, Penghu, and other nearby islands, and now is usually referred to as Taiwan.


Secretary of State of the United States Dean Acheson said on 5 January 1950: "The Chinese have administered Formosa for 4 years. Neither the United States nor any other ally ever questioned that authority and that occupation. When Formosa was made a province of China nobody raised any lawyers' doubts about that. That was regarded as in accordance with the commitments. Now, in the opinion of some, the situation is changed. They believe that the forces now in control of the mainland of China, the forces which undoubtedly will soon be recognized by some other countries, are not friendly to us, and therefore they want to say, 'Well, we have to wait for a treaty'. We did not wait for a treaty on Korea. We did not wait for a treaty on the Kuriles. We did not wait for a treaty on the islands over which we have trusteeship."[3] In a lengthy legal essay published in Tokyo in 1972, Chairman Ng Chiau-tong, World United Formosans for Independence, analysed the British Parliamentary records and other documents, concluding that the legal status of Taiwan was undetermined.[4] Writing in the American Journal of International Law in July 2000, Jonathan I. Charney and J. R. V. Prescott maintained that the Chinese Nationalists (ROC) began a military occupation of Taiwan in 1945 as a result of Japan's surrender,[5] and that none of the post-World War II peace treaties explicitly ceded sovereignty over Formosa and the Pescadores to any specific state or government.[6] The official position of both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China is that Taiwan and Penghu were returned to the Republic of China according to the terms of the 1945 Japanese Instrument of Surrender, which stipulated Japan's compliance with the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. The Potsdam Declaration in turn included the terms of the Cairo Declaration, which required Japan to return all conquered territories to China, including Taiwan and the Pescadores.[7]

Retrocession Day is currently not an official public holiday in Taiwan; however, memorial activities are still being held by civilian organisations and individuals. The Democratic Progressive Party, which rejects the idea of Taiwan being taken back by China, downplayed the event during their two terms of presidency from 2000 to 2008.[8][9] In 2010, small-scale memorials were held by the Taipei City Government to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Retrocession.[10]

Taiwan independence viewpoint

Supporters of Taiwan independence have argued that Taiwanese retrocession was invalid since there is no precedent in international law in which an instrument of surrender effected a transfer of sovereignty, and they base their belief in part on both a declassified CIA report from March 1949 confirming that Taiwan was not a part of the Republic of China[11] and President Truman's June 27, 1950, statement regarding Taiwan's "undetermined status", which they hold as proof of the leading Allies' views. As late as November 1950, the United States State Department announced that no formal act restoring sovereignty over Formosa and the Pescadores to China had yet occurred;[12] British officials reiterated this viewpoint in 1955, saying that "The Chinese Nationalists began a military occupation of Formosa and the Pescadores in 1945. However, these areas were under Japanese sovereignty until 1952."[13]

See also


  1. "Taiwan's retrocession procedurally clear: Ma". The China Post. CNA. 26 Oct 2010. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  2. Huang, Tai-lin (22 May 2014). "Lien's campaign TV ads to stress love for Taiwan". Taipei Times. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  3. Department of State (1950). Department of State Bulletin. 22. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. p. 80.
  4. Ng, Yuzin Chiautong (1972). Historical and Legal Aspects of the International Status of Taiwan (Formosa) (2nd ed.). Tokyo: World United Formosans for Independence. LCCN 74165355. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  5. Charney, Jonathan I.; Prescott, J. R. V. (July 2000). "Resolving Cross-Strait Relations between China and Taiwan". The American Journal of International Law. 94 (3): 453. doi:10.2307/2555319. JSTOR 2555319. After occupying Taiwan in 1945 as a result of Japan's surrender, the Nationalists were defeated on the mainland in 1949, abandoning it to retreat to Taiwan. In that year the PRC was established.
  6. Charney & Prescott (2000).
  7. Hung, Joe (7 Dec 2009). "Chen's shadow is getting eclipsed". China Post.
  8. Chung, Lawrence (26 Oct 2000). "Taipei govt downplays Retrocession Day". The Straits Times.
  9. Hirsch, Max (26 Oct 2006). "Activists call for Retrocession Day national vacation". Taipei Times. p. 2.
  10. Ma, Ying-jeou (22 Dec 2010). "A Word from the President". Exhibition Commemorating the 65th Anniversary of Victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and the Retrocession of Taiwan. Taiwan Provincial Government. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  11. Lowther, William (9 Jun 2013). "CIA report shows Taiwan concerns". Taipei Times. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-06-10. [Quoting from a declassified CIA report on Taiwan written in March 1949] From the legal standpoint, Taiwan is not part of the Republic of China. Pending a Japanese peace treaty, the island remains occupied territory in which the US has proprietary interests.
  12. United States Dept of State (11 Nov 1950). "Sec. of State (Acheson) to Sec. of Defense (Marshall)". Foreign relations of the United States. Washington DC: US GPO: 554–5. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  13. Far East (Formosa and the Pescadores), Hansard, 4 May 1955, retrieved 2015-12-09
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