Thursday, December 22, 2011

A War Story

The above documentary, A War Story, is based on the diaries of Canadian doctor Ben Wheeler during his internment in the notorious Kinkaseki Japanese POW camp on Formosa (Taiwan). This docudrama was one of the first major projects of his daughter the noted Canadian filmaker Anne Wheeler. The film is comprised of newsreel footage, interviews and dramatic re-enactments.

His story and the story of Kinkaseki's horrors takes on special significance this month as Japan has recently offered an apology to the Canadians who were POWs of Imperial Japan. Copper mining at Kinkaseki was a classic example of death through work. The POWs were subjected to deliberate and systematic mistreatment at the hands of their captors. It is unfortunate and odd that Japan's Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba did not himself deliver the apology to the Canadian former POWs, as he had done just weeks before to the American and Australian POWs. Their suffering was no less.

Most Canadians became POWs with the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas Day, 1941. On that one day, 1,689 Canadians were captured by the Japanese. It is thought that 1,405 survived the hellships and camps in Hong Kong and Japan

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