Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Mexico and Bataan

Bataan Medal
New Mexico’s 200th Regiment was sent to to provide air defense on the Philippines in September 1941. On December 8, 1941 they were the “first to fire” on Japan and by evening the Regiment was split, forming the 515th Coast Artillery to provide anti-aircraft protection to Manila, the first battle-born unit of World War II. Few regiments have given and suffered so much to defend the United States.

The 200th and 515th Coast Artillery batteries were among the most highly decorated in American history. They received four Presidential unit Citations, five Battle Stars, the Bronze Star, the Bataan Medal issued by the State of New Mexico and a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. Of the 1,816 200th and 515th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) men identified: 829 deaths (46%) — 24 battle-related; 803 as POWs (44%) including five who were massacred on Palawan; 2 post-liberation (related to abuse as POWs).  There were only 988 survivors (54%) and 40 deaths post-liberation for a ten year period (4%). (Source: B. Charley Gallegos, Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Foundation of New Mexico, Inc.)

Although in 1943, the City of Albuquerque vowed to build a memorial to New Mexico’s 200th and 515th Coast Artillery and created the Bataan Memorial Park, a city memorial was not dedicated until April 7, 2002. In 1960, family members and friends of the Regiment’s survivors had erected a stone memorial to the Regiment in the Park.

The new Memorial features granite pillars bearing the names and story of the men of the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery (AA) units arranged such that one may get a sense of marching alongside a man, toward the original stone memorial. Behind the flower garden, is a ramada to providesshade for benches on which visitors can sit and look across a series of stepping stones which delineate the island nation of the Philippines to the original marker, or beyond to the grassy lawn of the park and children at play.

This Memorial provides a physical reminder that the park is integral to the history of Albuquerque and New Mexico. It is maintained by the city and the Bataan Corregidor Memorial Foundation, which also hosts an excellent website on the Regiment's history.

Albuquerque’s congressman is Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) and he is a co-sponsor of H. Res. 333. New Mexico’s other congressmen, Steve Pearce (R-NM-2) and Ben Lujan (D-NM-3) still have not signed on to support the Resolution.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Importance of Apologies

Just how important is an apology for war crimes committed over 60 years ago? Very.

Dr. Aaron Lazare, the former chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of the book On Apology, finds that apologies are “the most profound of human interactions.” When used well, the words can heal humiliation — by lifting anger and guilt and allowing splintered bonds to mend.”

Lester Tenney, a San Diego resident, felt that receiving the apology from Japan was so important that he consented to experimental heart surgery barely five months before he was to travel to Japan to lead a delegation of American former POWs of Japan.

As a POW, both military and civilian guards repeatedly told him that as a surrendered soldier he was "lower than a dog." He should have killed himself, they believed.

He knew he had to be there to accept the Japanese government's official apology for their mistreatment and slave labor. It was an act not only to rest the demons of his PTSD, but also to give meaning to our peace with Japan, and hope to future Americans who may become POWs.

Tenney, a Bataan Death March survivor, slaved nearly three years in a dangerous Mitsui coal mine. He suffered malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, poor medical care, and continuous beatings.

He remembers never receiving packages from home or any of the Red Cross boxes sent to the camp. After liberation, the POWs found a warehouse full of the undistributed Red Cross boxes. Thus, over the past few years, he has organized his retirement community to send "care packages from home" to U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In this video, Tenney talks about his surgery, his hopes for his trip to Japan, and his experience as a POW of Japan. His wish to have Mitsui & Co., LTD, one of Japan's biggest and oldest conglomerates, apologize to him for his slave labor and the abuse he suffered from their employees is yet to be realized. Fortunately, Scipps Memorial Hospital has made it possible for him to maybe live long enough to receive this crucial apology.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Congressional Hearings on American POWs of Japan

It was not until 2000, that the U.S. Congress held hearings on how the 1951 San Francisco Peace treaty with Japan abrogated the right of American former POWs of Japan to sue Japanese companies for compensation for their forced labor or on how the POWs were treated in Japan in violation of the Geneva Convention.

There had also never been congressional discussion on how the POWs were treated upon return. Many were forced to sign military gag orders not to discuss any details of their imprisonment. Researchers have found that American POWs of Japan died at four times the rate of other veterans of WWII after their first year back. Further, POWs of Japan suffered the highest rate of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, which was not given an official name until 1980) of any WWII veteran. (Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation's Troubled Homecoming from World War II by Thomas Childers, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009)

In 2000, the full Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on if and how the U.S. can assist POWs to obtain compensation for forced labor and inhumane imprisonment. In 2002, the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Justice for POWs Act, H.R. 1198 [107].

This legislation was popular in the 107th House of Representatives. Introduced by Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), there were 230 co-sponsors. Despite this strong support, much of it promoted by then-Majority Whip Tom "The Hammer" Delay, the bill never made it out of the three committees it was referred to, thus never getting to the floor of the House for a vote. There was also no companion legislation in the Senate (necessary for bill to become a law).

For a full analysis of all the legislation concerning the American POWs of Japan see "Critical Documents" on this blog: Legislative History. Below are the tables of contents of both hearings and the links to these documents. They are excellent compendiums of the issues involved with reconciliation and Japanese war crimes.



ON

DETERMINING WHETHER THOSE WHO PROFITED FROM THE
FORCED LABOR OF AMERICAN WORLD WAR II PRISONERS OF
WAR ONCE HELD AND FORCED INTO LABOR FOR PRIVATE
JAPANESE COMPANIES HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO REMEDY THEIR
WRONGS AND WHETHER THE UNITED STATES CAN HELP
FACILITATE AN APPROPRIATE RESOLUTION

JUNE 28, 2000

STATEMENTS OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Hatch, Hon. Orrin G., U.S. Senator from the State of Utah ................................ 1
Feinstein, Hon. Dianne, U.S. Senator from the State of California ...................... 5
Grassley, Hon. Charles E., U.S. Senator from the State of Iowa ....................... 22
Leahy, Hon. Patrick J., U.S. Senator from the State of Vermont ...................... 23

CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF WITNESSES

Statement of Hon. Jeff Bingaman, U.S. Senator from the State of New Mexico.... 3

Panel consisting of David W. Ogden, Acting Assistant Attorney General,
Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice; and Ronald J. Bettauer, 
Deputy Legal Adviser, Department of State, Washington, DC............................. 6

Panel consisting of Harold W. Poole, former World War II prisoner of war
in Japan, Salt Lake City, UT; Frank Bigelow, former World War II prisoner
of war in Japan, Brooksville, FL; Maurice Mazer, former World War II
prisoner of war in Japan, Boca Raton, FL; Lester I. Tenney, former World
War II prisoner of war in Japan, LaJolla, CA; Edward Jackfert, former
World War II prisoner of war in Japan, and commander, American Defenders
of Bataan and Corregidor, Inc., Wellsburg, WV; and Harold G. Maier,
professor of law, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN .................................. 28

ALPHABETICAL LIST AND MATERIALS SUBMITTED

Bettauer, Ronald J.: Testimony.......................................................10
Prepared statement ....................................................................... 14

Bigelow, Frank: Testimony ............................................................ 31

Bingaman, Hon. Jeff: Testimony .......................................................3

Jackfert, Edward: Testimony .......................................................... 35

Maier, Harold G.: Testimony.......................................................... 38
Prepared statement ....................................................................... 39

Mazer, Maurice: Testimony ........................................................... 32

Ogden, David W.: Testimony .......................................................... 6
Prepared statement ......................................................................... 8

Poole, Harold W.: Testimony ......................................................... 28
Prepared statement ........................................................................ 29

Tenney, Lester I.: Testimony ........................................................... 33


APPENDIX

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Responses to questions of Senator Hatch from:

The Department of Justice ............................................................................ 47

Ronald J. Bettauer ......................................................................................... 53

ADDITIONAL SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD

Text of e-mail message to Senator Hatch from Rabbi Abraham Cooper of
the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Berlin, Germany, dated June 26, 2000 ............ 55

Prepared statements of:

Bruce R. Harder, director, National Security and Foreign Affairs, Veterans
of Foreign Wars of the United States .......................................................... 55

Linda G. Holmes ............................................................................................. 56

Chalmers Johnson .......................................................................................... 59

Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, dated Aug. 15, 1995....................... 61

Michael D. Ramsey ......................................................................................... 61

Paul W. Reuter ............................................................................................... 65

John M. Rogers ............................................................................................. 67

Joseph A. Violante ......................................................................................... 72

Letters to:

Senator Hatch from Edward Jackfert, past national commander, American
Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor, Inc., dated June 20, 2000 .............. 73

Stuart Eizenstat, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, from Michael
Engelberg, M.D., the American Center for Civil Justice, 
dated June 10, 2000 ..................................................................................... 74

Hiroaki Yano, president, Mitsubishi International Corp., from Michael
Engelberg, M.D., the American Center for Civil Justice, 
dated June 13, 2000 ..................................................................................... 74

Hiroshi Noda, Kawasaki Heavy Industries U.S.A.), Inc., from Michael
Engelberg, M.D., the American Center for Civil Justice, 
dated June 13, 2000 ...................................................................................... 75

Senator Hatch from Michael M. Honda, California State Legislature,
dated June 30, 2000 ..................................................................................... 75

Senator Hatch from Gilbert M. Hair, executive director, the Center for
Internee Rights, Inc., dated June 22, 2000 ............................................... 76

Chart: Information on U.S. POW’s held in World War II ........................ 78

Senator Hatch from John E. Julian, first selectman, Office of Selectman,
State of Connecticut ...................................................................................... 79

Senator Hatch from John F. Sommers, Jr., executive director, the American
Legion, dated June 27, 2000 ....................................................................... 79

Senator Hatch from Charles L. Taylor, AMVETS national commander,
dated June 26, 2000 .................................................................................... 80

Senator Hatch from Bob Weygand, Member of Congress, House of
Representatives, dated June 23, 2000 ...................................................... 80

      Senator Hatch from Frank G. Wickersham, III, national legislative director,
Military Order of the Purple Heart, dated June 23, 2000 ...................... 81

HOUSE 2002 JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARING NEXT PAGE

Monday, July 25, 2011

25 Co-sponsors of H. Res. 333!




As of Monday, July 25, 2011, there are 25 co-sponsors in addition to Representative Mike Honda of House Resolution 333, a bipartisan resolution honoring United States veterans who were held as prisoners of war by Imperial Japan during World War II.

These members are listed below along with links to their websites.

Tell your congressman/woman to join this growing list:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Congressman John Mica (R-FL)




Congressman John Mica and his father before him, were friends with Samuel B. Moody one of the founders of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. Sam, a member of the Army Air Corps, survived the Battle of the Philippines, the infamous Bataan Death March, a Hell Ship, and slave labor for Nippon Sharyo, Japan's premiere rail car maker. At the Narumi prison camp for Nippon Sharyo's factory, he was punished by being forced to stand at attention. Sam stood there for over 53 hours. It is one of the world's records for standing "motionless."

Mr. Mica reprinted Sam Moody's memoir of his prison camp experience, Reprieve from Hell, and wrote a new introduction. He gives a copy to every veteran who visits his office. Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Fl) also distributes Sam's book to visiting veterans. Mr. Moody, who died in 1999, lived for a time in his district as well.

Every Congress, Mr. Mica introduces the Samuel B. Moody Bataan Death March
Compensation Act. It directs the Secretary of the military department concerned to pay certain compensation to individuals (or their survivors) who, as members of the Armed Forces during World War II:
(1) were captured on the peninsula of Bataan or the island of Corregidor in the Philippines by Japanese forces; and
(2) participated in and survived the Bataan Death March. Allows a survivor payment to be made to the nearest surviving relative of such individual.

This bill, which he introduced again on January 18, 2011 as H. R. 309, is unfortunately historically inaccurate and unfair to many who fought the Battle of the Philippines. No one captured on Corregidor participated in the Bataan Death March. Some on the Death March were able to escape and become guerrillas. Further, the Filipino Scouts on the Death March were techncially members of the Armed Forces and they did receive special compensation 2009-2010 through the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. In addition, many who survived the Death March died soon after at the Camp McDonnell prison camp of disease, mistreatment, and starvation.

Interestingly, Mica has never reached out to the current ADBC and its descendants group for support. Nor does he push the bill with other veterans organizations. He is simply puffing up his veterans credentials by doing very, very little. Sadly, Mr. Moody is not there to complain.

Despite this strong attachment to Mr. Moody's memory, as of July 21, 2011, neither Congressmen Mica nor Stearns are co-sponsors of H. Res. 333. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kissimmee, Florida


The Bataan-Corregidor Memorial dedicated on May 20, 1995 was a project of the Filipino-American community with the help of the City of Kissimmee, Florida. It was the first of its kind built in the United States.  Kissimmee is 18 miles southwest of Orlando, with Walt Disney World a mere 6 miles to the west. The memorial features a life-size bronze statue of a Death March scene involving an American soldier, a Filipino soldier and Filipino woman. For more photos of the memorial park see HERE.

Bill Posey represents Florida's 15th district, which includes Kissimmee. Congressman Posey, as of July 19, 2011, has not yet signed on to co-sponsor H. Res. 333 that honors the survivors of the Bataan Death March..

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Numbers


Over 500 Japanese POW camps and civilian internment camps for American and Allied nationals stretched from Rangoon (Burma-Myanmar) down through Malaya, Singapore, Sumatra, across Indonesia (Netherlands East Indies, NEI) as far east as Rabaul in the Solomon Islands. Hundreds of camps stretched north through the Celebes, Borneo, the Philippines, Hainan Island, Taiwan and Korea.

In Japan alone, over 160 POW slave labor camps existed at the time of surrender. Camps were located in many areas of mainland China including notorious camps in the Hong Kong and Shanghai areas. Prisoners were used mainly for mining coal, ore, ship building, airfield construction, and military defense bunkers. The most notorious were a camp in Palawan (massacre by fire of 150 Americans), Sandakan 2,200 British and Australians died in a forced march in Borneo), and a series of camps along the Burma-Thailand Death Railway (an estimated 15,000 Allied POWS perished, along with almost 180,000 civilians impressed into slavery).

National Guard Units Captured by Japan

Below are the National Guard Units captured on Bataan and Java in the first months of World War II. Each Unit is matched with its current Congressman/woman. A majority of the American POWs of Japan were from these battalions.

UPDATE: As of July 21, 2011, only two of these Congressmen, Ben Chandler (KY-6-D) and Martin Heinrich (NM-1-D) have signed on as co-sponsors of H. Res. 333 (*). Paul Ryan (WI-1-R) became a cosponsor on September 14, 2011 and Sam Farr (D-CA) on November 30, 2011. Steve Pearce became a co-sponsor December 9, 2011.

Captured on the Philippines (Bataan Death March)
>192nd Tank Battalion (Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin)
Activated: November 25, 1940 Sent to Philippines: October 24, 1941

CONGRESSMEN (as of Summer 2011):
*Company A: PAUL RYAN (WI-1-R) [co-sponsor 9/14/11]
Company B: Danny Davis (IL-7-D)
Company C: Marcy Kaptur (OH- 9-D)
*Company D: BEN CHANDLER (KY-6-D)

Resources
The Origin of Bataan Day
Maywood Bataan Day Organization
Proviso East High Bataan Commemorative Research Project; Maywood, IL
National Guard History eMuseum; Kentucky Guardsmen of the 192nd Tank Bn
Company C, 192nd Tank Battalion, Port Clinton, OH


>194th Tank Battalion (Minnesota, Missouri, California) Activated: February 10, 1941 Sent to Philippines: September 8, 1941

CONGRESSMEN (as of Summer 2011):
Company A: Chip Cravaack (MN-8-R)
Company B: Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-1-D)
*Company C: SAM FARR (CA-17-D) [co-sponsor 11/30/11]


Resources
A History of the Salinas National Guard Company 1895-1995
California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories; Company C, 194th Tank Bn


>200th Coast Artillery (New Mexico) Activated: January 6, 1941 Sent to Philippines: August 17, 1941

CONGRESSMEN (as of Summer 2011):
*Troop A: MARTIN HEINRICH (NM-1-D)
Troop B: STEVAB PEARCE (NM-2-R)

Resources
A Brief History of the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery
The Bataan Corregidor Memorial Foundation of New Mexico
The FReeper Foxhole Remembers The 200th Coast Artillery (AA) - (12/8/1941)


Captured on Java (“The Lost Battalion,” USS Houston, and labor on the Thai-Burma Death Railway)
>2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Battalion (Texas)
Activated: November 25, 1940 Sent to Pearl Harbor: November 21, 1941, Sent to Java: November 28, 1941 (diverted to Java, instead of the Philippines after Pearl Harbor)

CONGRESSMEN (as of Summer 2011):
Battery A: Charles A. Gonzalez (TX-20-D)
Battery B: Mac Thornberry (TX-13-R)
Battery C: K. Michael Conaway (TX-11-R)

Resources
2nd Bn, 131st Field Artillery, USS Houston; HISTORY Of THE LOST BN
Book Review: Kelly E. Crager. Hell under the Rising Sun: Texan POWs and the Building of the Burma Thailand Death Railway
USS Houston
USS Houston Memorial Site

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wisenthal Center supports the POWs

The Simon Wiesenthal Center a global Jewish human rights organization that teaches the lessons of the Holocaust has long championed the justice for the American POWs of Japan. Imperial Japan’s systematic, state-sponsored program of death through work for the POWs has resonance for those who study the Holocaust. Japan’s failure to abide to even the most basic components of the Geneva Convention is important lesson for future generations about human rights and dignity.

Recent activities of support include:

Wiesenthal Center offers Museum of Tolerance for possible meet between ex-slave laborer POWs and Japanese companies
,  Press Release, December 10, 2010.
Lester Tenney, a tenacious 90-year old survivor of World War II’s infamous “Bataan Death March” met with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week in San Diego to seek his support in getting Japanese firms bidding on California’s high speed rail project to apologize for their use of American POWs as slave labor during the Second World War.
Japan is responsible for teaching, Op Ed Orlando Sentinel, December 3, 2010,  by Alfred Balitzer, chairman of Pacific Research & Strategies, Inc., a California-based government-affairs and public-relations firm and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
....Time does not heal all wounds. Sixty-five years after the end of the Second World War, we are reminded that while history tells a story, it does not automatically bring justice. From the Nazi death camps to the Bataan Death March to the American POWs and others who suffered at the hands of Imperial Japanese, the scale and scope of barbarities inflicted on humankind during the World War II era remain beyond our full comprehension....
....It behooves the consortium of 11 Japanese companies led by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Tokai), which includes Mitsubishi and Sumitomo, to come clean about their abuse of American and Allied POWs during WWII....
Japanese bidders on high speed rail should have to apologize to World War II POWs, Op Ed, San Jose Mercury News, September 9, 2010 by Alfred Balitzer, chairman of Pacific Research & Strategies, Inc., a California-based government-affairs and public-relations firm and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
....We believe that the overwhelming majority of citizens on both sides of the Pacific agree that now is the time to finally do the right thing. With just seconds to go before the written record replaces living memory of the period, we must unite in bringing a symbolic measure of justice to those few survivors of humankind's most brutal hour.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Denier History

Rep. Honda, a former high school history teacher, has made the teaching of history an important element of H. Res. 333. Misconceptions of the past can be as dangerous as ignoring it.

In December 2010, this was made clear by a startlingly anti-American and anti-Semitic article about the Bataan Death March in one of Japan's popular national magazines, the Shukan Shincho.

The featured article questions if the March ever took place, doubts a POW memoir of the March and the tortures he received, and suggests that the memoir is merely Jewish prejudice. The author also makes matter-of-fact claims that the March was not difficult, that the POWs were transported, and that Japan does not know anything of torture. In truth, POWs were only transported by rail the last 17 miles of the March stuffed into vintage French boxcars with many dying of suffocation and heat stroke.


Bamboo Strings?

by Masayuki Takayama

"Henken Jizai" column in December 23, 2010 edition of Shukan Shincho
Translation coordinated by Dr. William Brooks, APP Senior Fellow

Some time back when I took a trip to Jerusalem, nearby the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, that is, the mount of Golgotha, a pink flower was blooming. When I asked its name, my guide, who was a former diplomat, replied it was the “Judas Tree.” He said that the face of Judas had turned red when Christ pointed out his betrayal during the Last Supper.

“And so that’s the color of this flower. Of course, that’s not the name the Jews call it,” he added, chuckling.

He said Jews have no interest in either the flower or the tree, but Japanese often like to ask about it, so guides hastily prepare for such questions, happy to be helpful with their knowledge.

Jewish people are assiduous and are never slack in their studies. Eli Cohen, Israel’s former ambassador to Japan, had this similar aura about him, and so formed our image of a Jew.

That is why I felt somewhat puzzled when I learned that Lester Tenney, author of My Hitch in Hell, is also Jewish.

His book talks about the so-called Bataan Death March. Needled on by the United States, Japan was eventually provoked into a war. Tenney’s story begins when his tank battalion was sent to the Philippines in preparation for this war.

Tenney arrived at the U.S. Army post at Clark Airfield on November 20, approximately two weeks before Pearl Harbor. It was obvious the U.S. had Japan in the palm of its hand.

And so as scheduled, war broke out. Yet on the very first day, Clark air base was completely destroyed, the result of the height of incompetence of its commanding officer, MacArthur. When the Japanese landed at Lingayen Gulf, he decided to retreat to Bataan Peninsula.

Japan's Apology

On May 30, 2009, at the last convention of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor in San Antonio, Texas, Japan's Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki courageously delivered an official Japanese government apology to the American POWs of Japan.

There is no known official transcript of the apology in either English or Japanese. The Japanese Embassy nor Japan's Foriegn Ministry has never published a transcript or publicized that this apology was given. Thus, there is no way of knowing what apology words the Japanese government used in the apology. There are a number of significant variations.

As the apology is a variation of the 1995 Murayama Statement of apology for the war, one may assume that the Japanese is similar: "During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology. Allow me also to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history."

The Embassy's newsletter "Japan Now" (January 12, 2010) also never mentions this historic apology. Indeed, in looking back upon the year, Amb. Fujisaki does not mention his apology among the 'three firsts' in the Japan-U.S. relations in 2009."

Below is a transcription of the Ambassador's remarks taken off a video produced by the TV station, San Antonio Express (no longer on their site, but featured among the four videos at the top of this blog).


Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much. I am very grateful, for the very kind invitation I have received. It is a great honor to participate in your final convention.[Cut]

Today, I would like to convey to you the position of the government of Japan on this issue. As former Prime Ministers of Japan have repeatedly stated, the Japanese people should bear in mind that we must look into the past and to learn from the lessons of history. We extend a heartfelt apology for our country having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people, including prisoners of wars, those who have undergone tragic experiences in the Bataan Peninsula, Corregidor Island, in the Philippines, and other places.

Ladies and gentlemen, taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives in the war, and after the war, and their family members. As for the Peace Program, as such Dr. Tenney referred, I have told him that I cannot make a definite statement at this junction, if we can expand this program. However, I can convey to you that relevant bureau in the government of Japan is working seriously and sincerely on this matter.
[Cut]

Today, Japan and United States are the closest friends, best allies. But, we should always keep in our mind that this good relations is based on our past experiences and efforts. Ladies and gentlemen, we are committed to carry on the torch of our future gen-to our future generations of this excellent and irreplaceable friendship and relations. I thank you very much for this occasion.

Best Seller: Unbroken



Since the day it was published in November 2010, Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption has been a best seller. This memoir of an American POW of Japan has remained among the top ten on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon lists.

Californian, Olypmpian, airman, Louis Zamperini experienced the worst of Imperial Japan's POW camps. He was tortured, experimented upon, interrogated, beaten, whipped, starved, humiliated, and forced to give a radio broadcast. He survived torture at the infamous Ofuna Naval Interogation station in Kamakura and was then shipped to to work in Japan's two most horrific prison camps: Omori where he slaved for Nippon Express and then Naoetsu where he labored for Shinetsu Chemical and Nippon Stainless. These companies still exist.

As Hillenbrand writes: 
Virtually nothing about Japan's use of POWs was in keeping with the Geneva Convention. To be an enlisted prisoner of war under the Japanese was to be a slave. The Japanese government made contracts with private entities to send enlisted POWs to factories, mines, docks, and railways, where men were forced into exceptionally arduous war-production or war-transport labor. The labor, performed under club-weilding foremen, was so dangerous and exhausting that thousands of POWs died on the job. In the extremely rare instances in which the Japanese compenated the POWs for their work, payment amounted to almost nothing, equivalent to a few pennies a week. (p. 234)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honda introduces resolution honoring American POWs

REP. HONDA INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION TO HONOR WORLD WAR II U.S. PRISONERS OF WAR

Michael Shank, Office of Mike Honda (D-CA) Press Secretary
(202) 225-2531
michael.shank [@] mail.house.gov

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Michael Honda (CA-15), Chairman Emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, introduced a bipartisan resolution [H. Res. 333] honoring United States veterans who were held as prisoners of war during World War II.

The resolution commemorates the courageous and faithful men and women who were taken as U.S. POWs in the Pacific. It also commends the Government of Japan for the steps it has taken to provide some justice to former U.S. POWs, recognizes America’s strong alliance with Japan and calls on the private Japanese companies that profited from U.S. POW labor to apologize and support programs for lasting remembrance and reconciliation.

“I have long felt that Congress has a moral obligation to honor the men and women who suffered grave injustices during World War II,” said Rep. Honda. “With fewer than 500 surviving POWs alive today, I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in making this small, but significant, gesture to show these brave men and women that Congress has not forgotten about their experience and sacrifice, and that we appreciate Japan for the steps it has taken.”

During World War II, an estimated 27,000 men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces were captured by Imperial Japan’s military. These American POWs were subjected to brutal and inhumane conditions and forced labor, and nearly 40 percent perished.

“I wholeheartedly support this resolution, as it reminds both Japanese and Americans that no apology is ever too late and that justice for American veterans cements the postwar peace and friendship between the U.S. and Japan,” said 90-year-old Dr. Lester Tenney, a former U.S. POW and survivor of the Bataan Death March. Tenney served as the last National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor and as a Chairman of Care Packages From Home, a nationally recognized non-profit organization that sends boxes of necessities to U.S. troops serving overseas. “I urge Congress to pass this Resolution as soon as possible as 66 years is too long for this injustice to American veterans to go unacknowledged and unresolved. Because of Japan’s apology for the abuse of us American POWs, it is now easy for me to acknowledge a true feeling of friendship between our two countries."

Dr. Tenney went on to reflect on the importance of Congress taking up this resolution. “Sixty-six years is a long time to wait for an apology, and it is unfortunate that not many POWs are left to hear it. But it is important for Congress to acknowledge Japan’s reconciliation efforts and to encourage its great companies to follow suit. This resolution reassures us veterans that no matter the passage of time or how distant an injustice, Congress will stand by us. This resolution reminds us that the US-Japan Alliance has its history and its obligations. Passage is critical to both American veterans and to the Japanese for the respect of both.”

The Government of Japan (GOJ) has, in recent years, taken positive steps to address this issue. Last year, Japan’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ichiro Fujisaki, delivered an apology on behalf of the GOJ at a U.S. POW convention. This welcome apology was historic, demonstrating that the GOJ realizes the pain still felt by many surviving U.S. POWs and their family members today. In addition to offering an apology, the GOJ also invited last year, for the first time, several U.S. POWs to Japan for an exchange program of reconciliation and remembrance.

“The Descendants of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor applaud Representative Honda’s House Resolution commending the Japanese government’s apology to former prisoners of war and its establishment of a visitation program,” said Jan Thompson, President of the POWs descendants group, and the daughter of POW survivor and Kansas City native Robert Thompson, who survived the infamous “Hell Ship” journey on the Oryoku Maru to Japan. “As the daughter of an American POW who witnessed the official apology and visited Japan during the first year of the Japanese/American POW Friendship Program, I can attest to the importance of continuing the program and expanding it to include educational initiatives and other remembrance efforts. It is our hope that Congress’ call for certain Japanese private firms to follow the Government of Japan’s example in acknowledging their misuse of POW labor will be an important step in establishing foundations dedicated to preserving the history of American prisoners of war of Imperial Japan.”

The national Reserve Officers Association (ROA) and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) also expressed support for Rep. Honda’s resolution honoring U.S. former POWs.

“The Reserve Officers Association supports the continuing pursuit towards a global standard of proper treatment for prisoners of war. Nations that violate this standard must accept accountability for such transgressions,” said Executive Director Major General David R. Bockel, USA (Ret.). “The Reserve Officers Association approves of Japan's renewed commitment to this standard and honors the service of these former POWs, whose sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

NGAUS (National Guard Association of the US) strongly supports Congressman Honda’s Resolution which dutifully reminds us that the service and extended suffering of our POWs in the Pacific theater during WWII must never be forgotten,” said Deputy Director of Legislation Peter J. Duffy, Colonel US Army (Ret.). “We are thankful for the apology from the government of Japan as a welcomed and healing gesture from a true friend whose population also suffered mightily from the war.”

The bipartisan resolution is supported by 15 original cosponsors of both parties.