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September 20, 2017

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Outrage erupts over student Nazi display

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A private Hsinchu high school has come under fire after its students wore Nazi uniforms and brandished swastika banners in a school-sanctioned parade.

The Presidential Office Saturday apologized for the incident, with education authorities vowing to reduce funding to the school as punishment.

Private Kuang-Fu High School in Hsinchu also issued a statement apologizing for the parade, but said it had not intended to condone Nazi atrocities.

The apologies came after Israel's representative office to Taiwan condemned the event.

"It is deplorable and shocking that only seven decades after the world witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust, a high school in Taiwan is supporting such an outrageous action," Israel's representative office said in a statement.

Israel called on Taiwan's government to initiate programs to teach students about the Holocaust, saying that schools should encourage tolerance and understanding among people.

Images of the high school's "Christmas and Thanksgiving Costume Parade" surfaced online Friday evening, showing students in a sophomore media and design class dressed in Nazi uniforms and marching with a cardboard tank displaying German army insignia. The students were giving the "Sieg Heil" salute.

In a statement issued in response to the incident, the Presidential Office said the march was "especially disrespectful to the Jewish people's suffering at the hands of war and represents ignorance toward modern history."

Apologizing for the incident, the government called for an investigation into responsible school officials and urged that education on such matters be strengthened.

The Ministry of Education expressed shock and regret over the parade, saying administrators and teachers at Kuang-Fu High School should have told the students that their march would hurt others.

"It is improper to demonstrate creativity using the wounds of history," said Education Minister Pan Wen-chung.

The ministry said it is considering punishing the school over the incident, including cutting government subsidies and revoking the "quality school" citation it had obtained from the ministry.

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