FOUNDATION OF JAPANESE HONORARY DEBTS
His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague, 10 September 2013.
Subject: Towards a genuine dialogue 11.
In my previous petition I called for a genuine dialogue between your government and the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts. Such a dialogue is aimed at resolving the enduring harm done to the Dutch nationals in concentration camps and outside those camps by the Japanese military during the occupation of the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.Acknowledging the past should fit in with your intentions to prepare Japan and in particular its youth for the future. You would not like to be remembered as the Japanese Prime Minister who whitewashed genocide and war crimes committed during World War Two.
That the UN Secretary General, despite the serious and time consuming Syrian crises, urges Japan to consider its past is very significant and clear. It is for Japan a clear warning that the United nations are unhappy with the present discussion in Japan to "rewrite history". His call for "correct awareness about history" is not only meaningful, but indicates serious concerns by the UN members for the consequences if Japan is to revise its present constitution.
In this context the reaction by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to the call by the UN Secretary General was to be expected. It demonstrated however that the UN Secretary General is right to call upon Japan to reconsider its intentions to change the present constitution. The UN Secretary General is well aware of your efforts to have a dialogue with South Korea and China. It is childish of your Chief Cabinet Secretary to doubt it. Nevertheless it would do you and Japan good not only in asking the UN Secretary General what he means with "very deep introspection", but to ask his help in resolving the globally deep rooted distrust of Japan and its leaders in matters concerning World War Two.
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva is very much aware of the attrocities committed by the Imperial Army during World War Two. In particular the Japanese military's for use of institutionalized sexual slavery known as Comfort Women is a subject matter which the Human Rights Council repeatedly asked Japan to take its responsibilities for.
The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts welcomes the remarks by the UN Secretary General and will continue to remind the UN Human Rights Council that Japan must acknowledge the attrocities committed by the Imperial Army, apologize to the victims still alive or to the direct descendants of those who died, many as a consequence of the brutalities by the Imperial Army; and compensate them.
We would welcome an acknowledgement of the receipt of this petition by you personally.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,
Brigitte van Halder our JES committee member of International Relations was at the 24st session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva in August.
This is the following written statement,
United Nations A/HRC/24/NGO/5
27 August 2013
Human Rights Council
Twenty- fourth session
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development
Written statement' submitted by the Foundation of Japanese
Honorary Debts, a non-governmental organization on the
The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in
accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.
[18 August 2013]
* This written statement is issued, unedited, in the language(s) received from the submitting non-
The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts was established in 1990 with the purpose of
looking after the interests of the Netherlands -Dutch- citizens who, during the Japanese
occupation of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), were victims of the Japanese military
during World War 11.
The Dutch citizens were interned in concentration camps, families were split and men,
women and children put in separate camps. No communication was allowed, smuggling of
messages was impossible; if caught it could cost your life, in the best case you were
brutally tortured. Many men were transported overseas and forced to do slavery work on
railroads (e.g. Birma railroad) the mines or do coolie work in harbors. War time
conventions were violated despite acceptance of these conventions by japan.
Those Dutch left outside the camps on racial grounds were terrorized and disallowed to work for a living.
All were subjected to organized terror by the military, including enforced sex slavery and
other forms of slavery, torture, intimidation, harsh disciplines, systematic starvation and
denial of medicine. Many died and the ones who survived cannot forget their ordeal. Many
continue to live with traumas and other health problems.
Still now, more than 68 years after the end of this war people come forward with their
personal stories, the memories that still haunt them.
One of these stories is an eye witness report of a then 14 year old boy who had only just
moved into Women's Hospital camp Solo on the island of Java, together with his mother,
his two older sisters of 15 and 18 and his younger brother of 10.
His story is about Japanese officers who, as announced several weeks beforehand, came to
collect 30 Dutch girls from Camp Solo in 1943.
In his own words written down in 2013 at the age of 86:
Quote: "Led by a young female doctor, Dr. Engels, thirty girls had soiled themselves and
some had inflicted small injuries to themselves, such as little wounds on their lips. These
would fester and looked very unappealing. At the time, I didn't really understand it. These
girls looked terrible and reeked immensely. Hair was no longer cut and there was no more
bathing. Dresses were torn and smeared. Rags were bound around legs and the girls were
taught how to limp and squint.
Once in a while there was some giggling because of these smelly, dirty disguises, but in the
hearts of the girls and their mothers there was great fear and grief because no one knew
what the Japanese were planning. It was clear however that, once the Japanese had made
their choice, those girls would have to go with them. Yes, working in a hospital, getting an
education and all kinds of other promises were made, but behind the scenes there was silent
grief and great uncertainty.
And so the day arrived. Several girls had fallen ill because of all the misery and fear. There
was vomiting and crying.
In my thoughts I saw my sisters standing there. What would happen to them? No one knew.
There they were: Five senior Japanese officers, in full uniform with high hats, imperial
samurai swords, gold stripes and shiny leather boots. There they were, on the steps of the
hospital, our Camp building, in Solo. Everyone in the camp had to be present on the
forecourt. About 1800 women and children were already waiting for an hour. It was dead
quiet. My little 10 year old brother was sitting on the ground playing with sand and stones.
My mother cried softly.
First a long story in Japanese translated by a Javanese interpreter in Malay: the beloved,
benevolent and divine Japanese emperor Hirohito was pleased that 30 girls from this
Women's Camp were allowed to study in Japan, or would be trained as nurses, and could
then go to work in various hospitals.
[In reality, girls, once selected in this manner, were forced into prostitution in brothels run
by the military, as 'Comfort Women' for the Japanese forces.]
A spacious place in front of the steps of the building was kept free for the girls. There they
would stand in a long line. Somewhere else the girls must have been standing at the ready.
But they didn't show up.
And then this happened.
The Japanese officers became restless: First murmurings, then profanities. They were not
used to this. Our camp director, Mrs. Smith, was called forward. It took a while. Doctor
Engels, a female doctor and the only doctor in the Women's Camp, the one that had
'prepared' the girls, walked along with Mrs. Smith, onto the steps of the terrace. When
asked where the girls were, the camp director told the interpreter in Malay that the girls
were too young and were needed in the Camp. Doctor Engels continued that the girls were
sick and weakened because there was not enough food in the camp.She added that the girls
could not leave because they had to take care of their sick mothers and the smaller children.
Doctor Engels immediately got a hard slap in the face from a Japanese officer. She almost
fell to the ground and just managed to prevent the man from hitting her with his sheathed
sword by grabbing the sacred Japanese sabre. This caused her and the samurai to topple
over backwards onto the floor. We knew what this would mean. This was a deadly sin to
the Japanese. A holy Samurai was not to be touched by anyone, most certainty not by a
Then all the officers went mad. Doctor Engels was kicked till she bled and beaten up
completely, until she stopped moving. She was the dragged away to the hallway behind
the terrace. We heard her screaming in agony a few times, and then there was silence. I
remember that Doctor Engels lived another few days, but then died from her injuries.
She had had the courage to say NO and then died for the sake of the lives of 30 Dutch camp
girls. All women and children present on the forecourt flew in all directions in a panic, back
to their rooms and to the barracks, in desperate fear of what could happen now.
The Japanese officers retreated and got in their cars and left without having seen the girls.
A second attempt to pick up the girls failed to materialize and why......we do not know.
Probably because soon the 'Military Command' of the women's camps was transferred to a
Japanese Citizen Authority or Board. As far as I know there was never any retaliation,
except that we received no food that day and all of the about 200 boys aged 10 to 18 were
taken to the Boys Camp 7 in Ambarawa 100 kilometers away in the week after the
uprising."End of quote.
Memories like these still haunt the victims of the Japanese concentration camps.
On behalf of these victims the board of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts
continues to seek moral recognition and justice. The Japanese government, due to
international pressure, will ultimately have to acknowledge that they have a moral duty
towards the Dutch from the former Netherlands East Indies. The Japanese government
claims that as a nation they "fight" for peace and justice, taking its responsibilities in the
international bodies seriously, playing significant roles in human rights, conflict mediation
and peace keeping forces. Before claiming this position however Japan must consider its
past and rectify their wrongdoings.
The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts requests the Human Rights Council to ensure
that at last, after 68 years, Japan recognizes the facts and settles the damage by
compensating the victims.
I wonder how Japan is going to react. I read something very interesting the other day, about another Dutch women, who just told her story about taken to a Japanese brothel. Her name is Jan Ruff- O'Herne. See her interview video on the internet, or read her book.
Its unbelievable how Japan keeps denying about these atrocities and the brothels. Everyone knows that it happened. It went on in the women camps as well. Women were raped, and my mother and her sister were one of them.
She never talked about it, and only had told her younger sister when she came back from the former Dutch Indies.
This was a taboo topic and often ignored is the discussion about rape in the camps and the Japanese brothels."Comfort Women".
The petitions we hand over are a way to speak out to a very ignorant Japan.
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