Kukutsu POW Camp Memorial, New Taipei City
In 1945, the Allies had begun to gain more and more advantages against the Japanese in the Pacific region. Part of their strategy included blocking the Japanese cargo ships that were transporting copper from the Kinkaseki copper mine in Taiwan to Japan. As a result, the Kinkaseki Copper Mine was closed and the Prisoners of War who had been forcibly working onsite were moved to other camps throughout Taiwan. One of these camps was positioned at Kukutsu, a small town located in the hills surrounding Taihoku – a location purposefully picked as it was far away from the coast and a potential Allied invasion.
The camp had no huts or facilities and instead those moved to Kukutsu were required to build their own shelters and collect and hunt their own food to survive. Those strong enough to work were sent by their Japanese captors to the nearby hillsides to plant sweet potatoes and peanuts as a means for future food provisions. Although the Kukutsu Camp only existed between May and August 1945, many of those amongst the 300 men detained there claimed it to be their worst experience as a POW due to the torture, illness and forced starvation inflicted upon them. After the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, those men who had survived Kukutsu, and the camps before, were rescued by the Allied victors and returned home.
In 1999, the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society unveiled a memorial at the former Kukutsu Prison Camp, commemorating the prisoners who endured the last few months of World War II at this site. Due to increased amounts of construction in the area, the memorial was moved in 2005 to a nearby safer location. Another commemorative service was held at the new spot and was attended by officials and a number of local people wanting to pay their respects.