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Amid Japan's concerns, Taiwan removes 'kill' marks from jets (update)

Amid Japan's concerns, Taiwan removes 'kill' marks from jets (update)

Taipei, June 30 (CNA) Taiwan's military has recently removed Japanese flags from two of its jet fighters slated to appear in an upcoming military display to mark the 70th anniversary of the Republic of China's victory in the War of Resistance against Japan, following concern expressed by Japan. The Ministry of National Defense organized a media tour June 8, during which the designs painted on a U.S.-made F-16 jet fighter and a locally developed Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jet, in the Air Force's fleet, were revealed. At the time, the Air Force said the designs were to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the war and the cooperation between the ROC and the United States in the 1937-1945 conflict. The war was a part of WWII, in which Japan and the other Axis Powers were defeated. On the F-16, there is a cartoon flying tiger caricature painted on the fuselage, along with a shark's mouth on the nose of the fighter, to commemorate the contributions of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the Flying Tigers, to the ROC's fight against Japan. The Air Force also painted 16 small Japanese national flags on the fuselage of the F-16, representing the number of Japanese planes shot down by Robert Neale, head of the AVG's 1st Squadron, Taiwan's Air Force said during the media tour. Similarly, the special design for the IDF included five small Japanese national flags, representing the number of Japanese aircraft shot down by Maj. Gen. Hsu Hua-chiang (???), an ROC pilot in a squadron of the Chinese American Composite Wing, a joint U.S.-ROC air force unit that existed from 1943 until 1945, according to the Air Force. But at a regular news briefing Tuesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he (???) confirmed that the Japanese flags were removed from the fighters to avoid any "misunderstanding" and unnecessary speculation. There have been mixed views from different sides and the ministry valued those opinions, he added. He stressed that the painted art on the jets was meant to represent the historic facts, remind the people of the brutalities of war and jointly pursue and cherish peace. The Japanese flags were removed from the two fighters about two weeks ago, an Air Force source said. The two fighters will be among more than 60 aircraft to participate in a flyover at the military display set for July 4 at an army base in Hukou, Hsinchu County. The Air Force explained Tuesday that it decided to remove the paintings after it found that no other countries have painted kill marks on modern jet fighters as part of commemorative events to mark the WWII anniversary. Although the Japanese flags were removed from the modern jet fighters, the kill markings on a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk plane remain and will go on display at the July 4 event as scheduled. The P-40 was a widely produced American fighter plane of WWII and served with the Flying Tigers. Asked about the issue, Foreign Minister David Lin (???) told the local media that Japan has brought up the paintings of the Japanese flags to his ministry. The Japanese officials said that the move should be in line with historic facts and that the IDF and the F-16 fighters were not used in the war against Japan, Lin said. Lin said the Foreign Ministry passed on Japan's remarks to the Defense Ministry. The Air Force later made the adjustments. But Lin stressed that Japan did not give pressure on this issue. Following the June 8 media tour, reports emerged that the paintings of Japanese national flags had raised concerns from Japanese officials, and the Air Force responded that the move was simply aimed at commemorating the anniversary and paying tribute to those who made contributions to the ROC victory over Japan. At that time, the Air Force said that it emulated the U.S. forces' practice during WWII to paint Japanese flags on military aircraft to represent the number of Japanese military planes shot down by the pilot, urging against any unnecessary speculation. Victory markings or kill markings were miniature enemy flags or other symbols painted on the fuselage of aircraft and other military hardware used by several nations during WWII to commemorate a significant victory such as the destruction of an enemy aircraft. After the end of the war against Japan in 1945, the Chinese civil war intensified. The ROC government relocated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war to the Chinese communist forces. (By Lu Hsin-hui, Hsieh Chia-chen and Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-21 01:59 GMT+08:00