On Aug 23, 2011, the Cowra Shire Council reported the following:
Taiwanese gather in Cowra to ring Bell of Peace
Over 80 Taiwanese guests and officials travelled to Cowra from Sydney today to take part in a special World Peace Bell Ceremony.
As part of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Centennial Peace Day celebrations, Cowra’s World Peace Bell and Peace Bells around the world were rung in conjunction with the unveiling of the ‘Bell of Peace’ on the island of Kinmen in Taiwan.
In addressing the group, Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Ms Frances Chung-Feng Lee, explained that Taiwan has designated 23 August as the Republic of China (Taiwan) Centennial Peace Day in commemoration of the anniversary of the 823 Artillery Bombardment, in which China fired up to 500,000 shells at the island of Kinmen. The two-meter high peace bell, cast out of copper and incorporating artillery shells used in the 1958 battle, is inscribed with the word "peace" in more than 100 languages.
Cowra has the honour of having Australia’s World Peace Bell, an honour that is usually reserved for capital cities. There are currently 21 World Peace Bells and coins to manufacture the bells have been donated by 103 United Nations member countries.
Cowra’s World Peace Bell was presented in 1992 in recognition of the peace and friendships made between the people of Cowra and Japan following the tragic Japanese breakout from Cowra's World War 2 prison camp on 5 August, 1944.
The first World Peace Bell was created by Chiyoji Nakagawa, former Mayor of Uwajima in Shikoku, Japan, during the aftermath of World War 2 and presented as a token of peace to the United Nations. Working on his own, Mr Nakagawa canvassed 65 member countries of the United Nations asking for donations of coins to cast a bell.
In 1982 a World Peace Bell Association was formed with co-operation from ambassadors representing 128 nations. The Association was charged with promoting a world free from the evils of nuclear war, and presenting replica World Peace Bells to the nations of the world. As was the case with the original, replicas are made from the donated coins of United Nations member countries.
Oddly, there was no mention of Taiwanese POWs detained between 1942-1946 within Cowra POW camps by any of the participants. The Taiwanese delegates apparently did not pay any attention let alone respects to their own people drafted to fight in the Pacific War for the Japanese Empire, instead, they commemorated the gun battles in Kinmen that occurred between ROC and PRC forces in 1985, irrelevant to the celebratory theme of World Peace.
In contrast, the breakout of Japanese POWs on Aug 5, 1944 has never been forgotten even with a memorial honoring the Japanese dead [see, for example, here]. To be fair, history has provided preciously little about the Taiwanese POWs if at all. Records only show, for instance, that there were 4 districts within the Cowra camp, Districts A through D. A and C housed Italian POWs captured in N Africa; B, Japanese POWs with low ranks; and D, Taiwanese and Korean POWs, together with high-ranking Japanese officers. It was the plan to relocate about 1,000 Japanese low ranking POWs to Hay, NSW, 400 km to the west, to separate them from their officers that had precipitated the breakout. Since no Taiwanese were reported either having been killed or injured, they probably did not take part in the riot; although the number of them, possibly in the hundreds, remains unknown to the people of Taiwan to this day.
Presumably, during and immediately after the Pacific War, 6,000 Taiwanese POWs were incarcerated in Australia. Some were previous prison sentries guarding British and Australian POWs in Borneo. Around 200 were tried and convicted as war criminals in 1945-6 and served time. In the 1950s, 50 with long sentences were sent back to Japan to serve out their time. A few of these sentries imprisoned in Rabaul did return to Taiwan and their stories told as part of the 2009 best-seller by 龍應台Lung Ying-Tai, the "大江大海一九四九Big River Big Sea—Untold Stories of 1949". Nothing is known as far as the fate of those stranded in Australia, however.