TAIPEI, Taiwan said Tuesday hundreds of veterans who participated in the bloody battles during the Second Sino-Japanese War will be invited to the island's first military parade marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in 1945.
A total of 67 military aircraft, among them US-made F-16s and Apache attack helicopters, as well as French-made Mirage 2000-5s, will fly in formation at a military base in the northern Hsinchu county on July 4.
"Hundreds of veterans who had participated in the war against Japan, including some living in Taiwan and others abroad, will be invited," defence ministry spokesman David Lo told reporters.
"Those living in the mainland are also welcome to join the event." The remarks come as Taiwan vies with China over the history of the conflict.
Taiwan's government is concerned that the role played by Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang troops in defeating Japan could be forgotten as the communist government in Beijing lauds the part played by Mao Zedong's forces.
The Japanese military invaded China in 1937 and the two countries fought a full-scale war until 1945, during which 3.2 million Kuomintang soldiers died, according to Kuomintang government tallies.
The Kuomintang government later fled the mainland for Taiwan after their troops were crushed by the Chinese communist forces in 1949, at the end of a civil war in China.
Since Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang party came to power on the island in 2008 with the promise of beefing up trade and tourism links, China has admitted the party contributed in the fight.
But Taiwan's plan to stage a parade sparked criticism from the radical anti-China opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union, with its spokeswoman urging the military to instead step up efforts against continued Chinese influence.
China had also announced plans to hold a military parade this year marking the 70th anniversary.