FOUNDATION OF JAPANESE HONORARY DEBTS
NGO, STATUS ROSTER
His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague, April 9,2013
The English language is a first class communication instrument. Many are the nuances that can be used to express facts and feelings. If the Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva Mr. Takashi Okada says that Japan "had been making" an active contribution to the activities of the Human Rights Council since its establishment and stresses that it saw the Universal Periodic Review as a vital mechanism to review the Human Rights situation of all United Nations Member States, then one welcomes this as a positive sign. However, one wonders if he then claims that Japan had agreed to (partially) follow up on recommendations made by United Nations Member States, including those recommendations promoting the protection of the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities.To make any really serious improvements in Japan's Human Rights policy today one must consider Japan's past violations of Human Rights.The acknowledgement of responsibility for past misconduct by the Japanese military and the education of Japan's young people through non biased information about Japan's recent history are an absolute must. By not including these undeniable facts from the past in today's Japan's Human Rights policy the statement made by Japan's representative in Geneva is null and void of any content.
The same verdict applies to the statement by the Japanese representative that the issue of "Comfort Women" should not develop into a political and diplomatic issue.The Non-Governmental Organizations are not interested in simply a discussion with Japan about what it has done with regards to "Comfort Women" and other victims of Japanese military terror and brutality. Obviously it is not sufficient what Japan has done, as the Japanese "regret and reparations fund" is not supported by the full parliament or by individual politicians who continue to deny responsibility for the past. What the NGO's want is a direct and honorable resolution of the issues for the victims and their next of kin. Anything less will continue to haunt Japan and its people for ages to comes!
The adoption by the Council of the Universal Periodic Review of Japan does not mean that all is well with Japan's Human Rights policy. Japan must continue to review its Human Rights policy with the NGO's as well as within its own political system and ensure this review is carried out by people who understand and know the consequences of the violation of Japan's military in the past. It involves educating Japan's people and giving understanding both in Japanese and in English as to why the world is apprehensive. It demands an unbiased commitment by Japan's parliament and its people to Human Rights, including recognition of the past.
We did not receive acknowledgement of our previous petitions.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,
Below is what I read on March 13, 2013 in the BBC News Magazine,
By Mariko Oi
BBC News, Tokyo
WHAT JAPANESE HISTORY LESSONS LEAVE OUT!
From homo erectus to the present day-300,000 years of history in just one year of lessons. That is how, at the age of 14, I first learned of Japan's relations with the outside world.
For three hours a week- 105 hours over the year- we edged towards the 20th Century.
It's hardly surprising that some classes, in some schools, never get there, and are told by teachers to finish the book in their spare time.
When I returned to my old school, Sacred Heart in Tokyo, teachers told me they often have to start hurrying, near the end of the year, to make sure they have time for World War 11.
"When I joined Sacred Heart as a teacher, I was asked by the principle to make sure that I teach all the way up to modern history," says my history teacher from Year Eight.
"We have strong ties with our sister schools in the Asian region so we want our students to understand Japan's historical relationship with our neighboring countries."
I still remember her telling the class, 17 years ago, about the importance of Japan's war history and making the point that many of today's geopolitical tensions stem from what happened then.
|Japanese textbook: Mariko's only footnote on the Nanjing massacre.|
When we did finally get there, it turned out only 19 of the book's 357 pages dealt with events between 1931 and 1945.
There was one page on what is known as the Mukden incident,when Japanese soldiers blew up a railway in Manchuria in China in 1931.
|Nanjing massacre 1927-1938.|
. International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), setup after WW2, estimated more than 200,000 people were killed, including many women and children.
. Dispute over scale of atrocity remains a sticking point in Chinese/Japanese relations-some
Japanese question whether a massacre took place.
There was one page on other events leading up to the Sino-Japanese war 1937-including one line, in a footnote, about the massacre that took place when Japanese forces invaded Nanjing-the Nanjing Massacre, or Rape of Nanjing.
There was another sentence on the Koreans and the Chinese who were brought to Japan as miners during the war, and one line, again in a footnote, on "comfort women"- a prostitution corps created by the Imperial Army of Japan.
There was also just one sentence on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I wanted to know more, but was not quite eager enough to delve into the subject in my spare time. As a teenager, I was more interested in fashion and boys.
My friends had a chance to choose world history as a subject in Year 11. But by that stage I had left the Japanese schooling system, and was living in Australia.
I remember the excitement when I noticed that instead of ploughing chronologically through a given period, classes would focus on a handful of crucial events in world history.
So brushing aside my teacher's objection that I would struggle with the high volume of reading and writing in English- a language I could barely converse in- I picked history as one of my subjects for the international baccalaureate.
My first ever essay in English was on the Rape of Nanjing.
There is controversy over what happened. The Chinese say 300,000 were killed and many women were gang-raped by the Japanese soldiers, but as I spent six months researching all sides of the argument, I learned that some in Japan deny the incident altogether.
Nobukatsu Fujioka is one of them and the author of one of the books that I read as part of my research.
"It was a battlefield so people were killed but there was no systematic massacre or rape," he says, when I meet him in Tokyo.
"The Chinese government hired actors and actresses, pretending to be victims when they invited some Japanese journalists to write about them.
"All of the photographs that China uses as evidence of the massacre are fabricated because the same picture of decapitated heads, for example, has emerged as a photograph from the civil war between Kuomintang and Communist parties."
As a 17- year- old student, I was not trying to make a definitive judgement on what exactly happened, but reading a dozen books on the incident at least allowed me to understand why many people in China still feel bitter about Japan's military past.
While school pupils in Japan may read just one line on the massacre, children in China are taught in detail not just about the Rape of Nanjing but numerous other Japanese war crimes, though these accounts of the war are sometimes criticized for being overly anti_Japanese.
The same can be said about South Korea, where the education system places great emphasis on our modern history. This has resulted in very different perceptions of the same events in countries an hour's flying time apart.
One of the most contentious topics is the comfort women.
. 200,000 women in territories occupied by Japan during WW11 estimated to have been forced into become sex slaves for troops, or "comfort women.
. In 1993 Japan acknowledge use of wartime brothels.
. In 2007 Japanese PM. Shinzo ABE was forced to apologize after casting doubt on the existence of comfort women.
Fujioka believes they were paid prostitutes. But Japan's neighbors, such as South Korea and Taiwan, say they were forced to work as sex slaves for the Japanese army.
Without knowing these debates, it is extremely difficult to grasp why recent territorial disputes with China or South Korea cause such an emotional reaction among our neighbors. The sheer hostility shown towards Japan by ordinary people in street demonstrations seems bewildering and even barbaric to many Japanese television viewers.
Equally, Japanese people often find it hard to grasp why politicians' visists to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine- which honors war criminals among other Japanese soldiers- cause quite so much anger.
|Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo ABE, visiting the Yasukurni Shrine in 2012.|
Twenty-year-old university student Nami Yoshida and her older sister Mai- both undergraduates studying science- say they haven't heard about comfort women.
"Ive heard of the Nanjing massacre but I don't know what it's about," they both say.
"At school, we learn more about what happenend a long time ago, like the samurai era," Nami adds.
Seventeen-year-old Yuki Tsukamoto says the "Mukden incident" and Japan's invasion of the Korean penninsula in the late 16th Century help to explain Japan's unpopularity in the region.
"I think it is understandable that some people are upset, because no-one wants their own country to be invaded," he says.
But he too is unaware of the plight of the comfort women.
|Chinese protestors often mark anniversaries of 20th Century clashes with Japan.|
"Our system has been creating young people who get annoyed by all the complaints that China and South Korea make about war atrocities because they are not taught what they are complaining about,"he said.
"It is very dangerous because some of them may resort to the internet to get more information and then they start believing the nationalists' views that Japan did nothing wrong."
I first saw Tamaki Matsuoka's work, based on interviews with Japanese soldiers who invaded Nanjing, when I visited the museum in the city a few years ago.
|Tamaki Matsuoka accuses the government of a deliberate silence about atrocities.|
"It took me many years but I interviewed 250 of them. Many initially refused to talk, but eventually, they admitted to killing, stealing and raping."
When I saw her video interviews of the soldiers, it was not just their admission of war crimes which shocked me, it was theri age. Already elderly by the time she interviewed them, many had been barely 20 at the time, and in a strange way, it humanised them.
I was choked with an extremely complex emotion. Sad to see Japan repeatedly described as evil and dubbed "the devil", and nervous because I wondered how people around me would react if they knew I was Japanese. But there was also the big question why- what drove these young soldiers to kill and rape?
When Matsuoka published her book, she received many threats from nationalist groups.
She and Fujioka represent two opposing camps in a debate about what should be taught in Japanese schools.
Fujioka and his Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform say most textbooks are "maoschistic" and only teach about Japan in negative light.
"The Japanese textbook authorisation system has the so-called "neighboring country clause" which means that textbooks have to show understanding in their treatment of historical events involving neighboring Asian countries. It is just ridiculous,"he says.
He is widely known for pressuring politicians to remove the term "comfort women" from all the junior high school textbooks. His first textbook, which won government approval in 2001, made a brief reference to the death of Chinese soldiers and civilians in Nanjing, buthe plans to tone it down further in his next book.
But is ignorance the solution?
The Ministry of Education's guidelines for junior high schools state that all children must be taught about Japan's "historical relations with its Asian neighbors and the catastrophic damage caused by World War 11 to humanity at large."
"That means schools have to teach about the Japanese military's increased influence and extension of its power (in the 1930s) and the prolonged war in China," says ministry spokesman Akihiko Horiuchi.
"Students learn about the extent of damage caused by Japan in many countries during the war as well as sufferings that the Japanese people had to experience especially in Hiroshima, Nagaskai and Okinawa in order to understand the importance of international co-operation and peace.
|In 2005 protests were sparked in China and South Korea by a textbook prepared by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which had been approved by the government in 2001.|
It referred to the Nanjing massacre as an "incident'" and glossed over the issue of comfort women.
The book was not used in many schools, but was a big commercial success.
"Based on our guideline, each school decides which specific events they focus on depending on the areas and the situation of the school and the students' maturity."
Matsuoka, however, thinks the government deliberately tries not to teach young people the details of Japan's atrocities.
Having experienced history education in two countries, the way history is taught in Japan has at least one advantage-students come away with a comprehensive understanding of when events happened, in what order.
In many ways, my schoolfriends and I were lucky. Because junior high students were all but guaranteed a place in the senior high school, not many had to go through what's often described as the "examination war."
For students who are competing to get into a good senior high school or university, the race is extremely tough and requires memorisation of hundreds of historical dates, on top of all the other subjects that have to be studied.
They have no time to dwell on a few pages of war atrocities, even if they read them in their textbooks.
All this has resulted in Japan's Asian neighbours- sepecially China and South Korea- accusing the country of glossing over its war atrocities.
Meanwhile, Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo ABE criticezes China's school curriculum for being too "anti-Japanese".
He, like Fujioka, wants to change how history is taught in Japan so that children can be proud of our past, and is considering revising Japan's 1993 apology over the comfort women issue.
If and when that happens, it will undoubtedly cause a huge stir with our Asian neighbors. And yet, many Japanese will have no clue why it is such a big deal.
Come tell me after all these years your tales about the end of war, tell me a thousand times or more and every time I"ll be in tears.
My mother and her sister wanted to forget and did not wanted to think about the camps anymore.It was too emotional. They were alive, they made it, while hundreds of their camp mates died.They suffered the rest of their lives in silence.They lived with shame constantly thinking of what one had been through, they kept silent. They never had a chance to undergo any kind of collective mourning, to come to terms with their experiences of camp-life, the hunger, the beatings, the worries about their children, but most of all the humiliation and being raped by these NIPPON soldiers.The loss of their husbands and what could have been.The Japanese took it all.
The atrocities the Japanese military inflicted on these helpless women and children is not to describe and should never be forgotten!
There is nothing wrong by being ashamed what your for fathers have done, take the blame and remove the shame. There is only a lesson to be learned from mistakes from the past.