From the China Post – August 22, 2010
TAIPEI — Four unused ammunition depots on a small islet in Penghu County built during Japanese colonial rule should be rehabilitated and turned into new tourist attractions, three Control Yuan members said.
The three members — Lee Ping-nan, Yu Teng-fang and Chou Yang-shan — made the recommendation after completing an extensive study of the century-old ammunition depots in Penghu’s remote Siyu township near Nisin Bay in the Taiwan Strait.
Three of the depots, built close together on the islet, had bronze plates as their inner walls and were equipped with airtight windows and two iron gates at each of their entrances.
Those features had led some to believe that the depots were toxic gas chambers or biochemical weapon research labs, Lee said, but an extensive study showed the speculation to be unfounded because their design and equipment did not live up to the standards for such facilities.
Moreover, samples of air, soil, water and 10 other items collected at the location did not test positive for traces of any toxic gases or chemicals, he added.
After extensive discussion with military historians and ancient ammunition experts, Lee said they concluded that the three depots were used to store smokeless ammunition.
“They have existed since 1907 when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule,” Lee said, noting that they are the only depots of their kind ever to be found in Taiwan.
After World War II, the Republic of China government took control of the depots, which continued to serve as depots for a nearby army base and are now abandoned.
There is another abandoned depot in their vicinity, which was also built by the Japanese during their period of colonial rule, Lee said. The depot has brick outer walls and wooden inner walls and its floor stands one meter high, a design believed to be helpful in fighting humidity.
According to Lee, cultural heritage experts from the Council for Cultural Affairs and the Penghu County government who joined his team in surveying the four structures agreed that the depots should be designated national historic sites subject to special protection for their historical and cultural value.
“Given their rarity, special architectural features and building technologies, they should be preserved and refurbished to serve as tourist attractions and as a resource for studying World War II history,” Lee said.
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