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Resource center on Japan's wartime aggression opens in Saita

 
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註冊時間: 2005-03-28
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發表發表於: 十一月 星期日 26, 2006 8:36 pm    文章主題: Resource center on Japan's wartime aggression opens in Saita 引言回覆

From: "BC ALPHA" <bcalpha@shaw.ca>[/b]

Resource center on Japan's wartime aggression opens in Saitama


Monday, November 6, 2006 at 12:05 EST

KAWAGOE - A resource center focusing on Japan's wartime aggression in China
and other Asian countries has opened in Saitama Prefecture, exhibiting
documents in which some 300 Japanese veterans confess to wartime crimes.

Most of the confessions, to crimes such as the murder of civilians and rape,
were made as part of the activities of a peace group called Chukiren, formed
in 1957 by about 1,100 repatriated Japanese who had been imprisoned in China
after the end of World War II as war criminals.

"This center will be the most powerful weapon to show the truth of the war,"
Fumiko Niki, 80, head of the Chukiren peace memorial museum in the city of
Kawagoe and longtime supporter of the group, said at its recent opening
ceremony.

Chukiren, a Japanese abbreviation for a phrase meaning network of
repatriates from China, was dissolved in 2002 because of the ageing of its
members. But its activities were taken over by a new group headed by Niki,
which launched the center. The younger generation, of people in their 20s
and 30s, has joined her.

The center, located in a 180-square-meter space converted from a warehouse,
houses about 23,000 books along with video footage and photos related to
war, peace and other issues, according to center officials.

The books were mainly donated from Chukiren members and the late Masami
Yamazumi, a former president of Tokyo Metropolitan University and critic of
Japan's education system.

The launch of the center comes at a time when Chukiren members are
increasingly concerned over Japan's current situation, such as moves to
revise the pacifist Constitution and the basic postwar education law with
the aim of instilling patriotism in the classroom.

"Mainly 1,000 Chukiren members were talking in public about the reality of
the aggression. And we have to admit that raising the Japanese people's
awareness as victimizers even more than 60 years after the war has not been
enough," Tetsuro Takahashi, 85, former Chukiren secretary general, said.

Chukiren's unique activity of "testifying to the acts of aggression" can be
traced back to the members' experience of being detained in China's Fushun
and Taiyuan prisons, the former from 1950.

Surprisingly treated with leniency by Chinese prison staff, such as being
provided with medical treatment and Japanese meals, about 1,100 former
Japanese Imperial Army soldiers and officers of Japan's puppet regime in
Manchuria, northern China, underwent a reeducation process, confessing to
their "sinful acts" and reflecting on them.

Only 45 were indicted and convicted in 1956 at military tribunals held in
China, none of whom was sentenced to death. All, including those convicted,
were able to return to Japan by 1964.

More than 5,000 pages of copies of handwritten testimonies by the convicted
prisoners are also presented at the newly opened center, provided through
the Chinese Embassy in Japan, Niki said.

Tsuyoshi Ebato, a former soldier held in Fushun, said the process of
confession he underwent in the prison was "a miracle" which made him realize
the graveness of his crime. He recalled how he had ordered new recruits to
bayonet captured Chinese tied to stakes as part of training, including a boy
who clutched Ebato's knees and begged for life.

Ebato, 93, has talked about his experiences on about 10 occasions this year
at the invitation of college students, civic groups and teachers' unions.
This is double the number of such opportunities he had the previous year.
They "probably thought I don't have much time left," he said.

As the number of Chukiren members still alive, believed to be about 100, is
rapidly decreasing, the group headed by Niki has stepped up efforts to find
war veterans who will cooperate in talking about their experiences to
preserve the memories of war.

Hisao Kubotera, 86, from Hadano, Kanagawa Prefecture, was one of the
Chukiren members who responded to the group's call and gave a lecture in
October.

Health problems, such as an ulcer, had made him reluctant to go out to speak
until several years ago, but recent moves by the government which he fears
are leading Japan to make the same mistakes as it did in the prewar days
have spurred him to talk about his experiences in detail.

"I thought a terrible thing is going to happen when I saw the government
moving toward revising the Constitution and eyeing passing an amendment to
the Fundamental Law of Education in the ongoing Diet session," Kubotera
said.

"I believe these moves will be a large obstacle in facing Asian countries
which suffered greatly in the war," he added.

Kubotera was born the first of 10 children in a farming family and joined
the war in China in 1942. He said he is still haunted by the memory of
shooting a boy, around 14 or 15, who was hiding with his mother in a hollow
area, at the order of his squad leader in Shandong Province.

"I pulled the trigger immediately, like a machine...We were taught that the
superior's order was the same as that of the emperor. I didn't even
hesitate." he said. "But I felt as if I was killing my little brother. My
heart was thumping, and I was surprised that I even had to do such a thing
in war."

"Other soldiers kind of sneered at me and said, 'Oh, my, Kubotera killed a
child!' But they also killed others, even though it may not have been a
child," he said.

As the days passed, the memories of killing the boy faded, until he was
imprisoned in Fushun. Kubotera said it still took a few years until he was
able to confess the incident in prison.

"All people who went to the war, directly or indirectly, took part in a
massacre...Japanese people talk about the sufferings of atomic bomb attacks
and air raids, but we need to understand them from the context of Japan's
war of aggression," he added.

Welcoming the opening of the new center, Kubotera expressed his willingness
to keep on relating his experiences of war.

"In my local area, there are few people willing to listen to what I say,
labeling me a Communist. I'm also sad that many who have been to the war
remain silent," he said. "But I should keep on talking...I think this will
be our long, long fight to preserve peace."


C 2006 Kyodo News.

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