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Friday, September 19, 2014

Dutch Comfort Women and the Consequences.

Asia Policy Point's blog.                                 APP is a Washington research center
                                                                       studying the U.S. policy relationship
                                                                       with Asia. We provide factual context
                                                                       and informed insight on Asian
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Sunday, August 24, 2014


On July 30th two Korean former Comfort Women had extended meetings with White House and the State Department staff.They had traveled to Washington to celebrate the 7th anniversary of House Resolution 121 recognizing their sexual slavery to Imperial Japan's military and asking for an unequivocal apology from Japan's government.

As the Abe Government protests that their tales are fabricated, the rest of the world believes them more. This is reinforced by more scholarship and efforts of daughters and granddaughters to tell their mother's story.

Little however, is said of the non-Korean victims of Japan's Comfort Women scheme. Most of the women, girls, and boys pressed to service and "comfort" the Imperial Japan's military were opportunities of war and occupation.The victims came from every city, plantation, territory and island occupied by Imperial Japan's military. The accounts of the brutal subjugation cemented by rape and pillage are amazingly similar whether they are told by Andaman Islanders or Singapore urbanites; Filipino peasants or Borneo headhunters.

None were more vulnerable than the women and girls who became prisoners in Japanese concentration camps in the Dutch East Indies.In the camps the Japanese officers chose at will, yet with deliberation, the women they wanted. Some, mainly British and Australian women, were survivors of ships torpedoed by Japan off the coast of Java. They recall being given a choice: starve or submit.

Moentilan, Xavier College
Most however, were Dutch girls and young mothers who had been forced from their homes into squalid and overcrowded locations, often former convents or schools. They were shut off from the world, with little food, limited sanitation, and surrounded by guards and barbed wire. The men and boys over 10 were sent off to slave on the Burma-Thai Death Railway or other military projects. It was never clear what was the intent or when would be the end of the internment. In late July and early August 1945, the consolidation of these internment camps and rumors from sympathetic guards suggested that the internees were all to be killed.
With some notable exceptions most of the hundreds of women forced to prostitute themselves for the Emperor never spoke of their experience or came forward to ask for compensation.The shame was too raw, too deep, it is therefore impossible to confirm the numbers of women subjected to this sexual abuse. Only 35 women were included in the 1946-47 Batavia War Crimes trial that charged 12 Japanese Army Officers of having committed war crimes that included, for the first time "forced prostitution". The full records of these proceedings are sealed as are the names of the women involved until 2025.

Thus, the following news is unusual and deeply from the heart,

Dutch Woman Speaks About Mother's Experience of Sexual Slavery

By Chang-Jae-soon, correspondent

Washington, August 18 (Yonhap) _ Thea Bisenberger-van der Wal says she still remembers sitting on the steps of a church in Indonesia back in 1945 while waiting for her mother to come out. Her mother always cried but only told her, then aged 4, that she had fallen.

The mother never spoke to her of what really happened in the church for the rest of her life until she died 10 years ago, Bisenberger said, though she constantly suffered from nightmares because of the indelible experiences; sexual slavery by Japanese troops.

Bisenberger now living in Canada, provided some details of what her mother went through in a letter to the Asia Policy Point, a nonprofit research center studying the U.S. policy on Northeast Asia. Mindy Kotler, director of the center, disclosed the letter to Yonhap News Agency on Monday.

Bisenberger has been calling for an apology from Japan.

It is not new news that Dutch women were among the victims of Japan's sexual enslavement during World War Two, but the case shows the issue still remains unresolved not only for Korean victims but for victims of other countries as well.

At least 65 Dutch women were believed to be among the victims, known euphemistically as "comfort women."(NB:79 women and men were willing to accept Japanese medical payments in the late 1990s)

"Not all the comfort women were Korean,"Kotler said."They were pressed into service on every island and territory invaded by Japan. The rapes were proof of victory and power for the Japanese and loss and humilation for the conquered people."

Monthly demonstration at the Japanese Embassy in The Hague
Bisenberger said she learned of her mother's experiences in 2009 when a younger sister of her mother told about it. The aunt was the only one to whom the mother revealed what happened because she wanted to spare her mother about the tragic story, Bisenberger said.

"My mother and her sister were raped while in a concentration camp in Moentilan. There was a church on this property and it was the former Xavier college. In this church happened the most horrible things during our captivity."

Bisenberger said in the letter of what happened in 1944.

The horrible experiences left deep scars on their hearts, she said. Her mother's sister even attempted suicide while in the concentration camp, but her mother saved the sister, Bisenberger said.

Bisenberger said that once a year she attends a rally that a group of Dutch people hold every second Tuesday of the month in front of the Japanese Embassy in The Hague.

"After the war, my mother always had nightmares, which never went away." she said."When a war is over, it's never over for the victims who survive, which is very sad. Even the children will always wonder if the things they have in their heads were real. My mother always tried to erase them."

APP Editor: You can read more about Thea Bisenberger van der Wal experiences on her blog, coconutconnections

My personal comment:

Thea said:

Thank you so very much for posting my story. I hope a day will come that Japan takes responsibility about the atrocities their military committed during World War Two. Its sad that the real victims were forgotten. The real victims who suffered for three and a half year at the hands of these barbaric Japanese Forces. Hundreds of thousands lost their lives. Please I am asking to honor those who gave their life and those who are still alive today and still suffer and relive the most horrendous atrocities which the Japanese inflicted on them. Lest we forget! We need recognition from Japan, and not denial. Take the blame Japan for what happened during World War Two and remove the shame!

August 26,2014.





United Nations High Commissioner  for Human Rights,

                                                                     Navy Pillay

The United Nations' top human rights official blasted Japan for what she described as its failure to "provide effective redress to the victims of wartime sexual slavery."

"It pains me to see that these courageous women, who have been fighting for their rights, are passing away one by one, without their rights restored and without receiving reparations to which they are entitled," said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement Wednesday.

Ms. Pillay, a South African national whose tenure as commissioner will soon come to an end after six years, criticized the lack of "any public rebuttal by the government" of Japan against "denials and degrading remarks" by public figures.

 This year, Tokyo conducted a review into how a 1993 official apology was drafted. The review, prompted by conservative lawmakers who have long questioned the Japanese military's direct involvement in recruiting World War Two "comfort women'" said it couldn't be confirmed whether the women were "forcefully recruited."

Ms. Pillay said the issue was "a current issue, as human rights violations against these women continue to occur as long as their justice and reparation are not realized."

When asked Thursday about the newest U.N. condemnation-just last month, the U.N. Human Rights Committee advised Japan to investigate and prosecute wartime perpetrators-Japan's top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, reiterated the government's longstanding view. "Our country's consistent position has been that the issue of comfort women has been settled between Japan and South Korea."

Mr. Suga said Japan has provided aid to the women "from a moral standpoint." Japan will "continue to patiently explain its position," he said.

Ms. Pillay's comments were the latest to keep the comfort-women issue on the front burner, nearly 70 years after the war ended. This week, South Korea said it would publish its first comfort women white paper- in English, Chines, and Japanese.

Additionally, Japanese conservatives claimed vindication this week when the liberal daily Asahi Shimbun retracted some stories it ran in the 1980s and 1990s that seemed to back allegations about the imperial army abducting Korean Women.

By Wall Street Journal Asia

Oh, how angry I am at the Japanese government of today, how they handle the atrocities their forefathers committed. Don't they feel any shame for what their military forces have done to human beings, specially to women and children, during World War Two? How can this government be in denial? Is Japan a nation that believes their own lies? 

The following story confirms my story I wrote a couple of years ago. I just purchased a book, written by Dr. Mark Felton,who gained his PhD in American history from the University of Essex. He currently lives in China with his wife and son and lectures at Fudan University, Shanghai. He has contributed to many historical periodicals and is the author of
Yanagi: The secret Underwater Trade Between Germany and Japan, 1042-1945. The Fujita Plan: Japanese Attacks on the United States and Australia during World War Two. Slaughter at Sea: The story of Japan's Naval War crimes,The Coolie Generals: Britain's Far Eastern Military Leaders in Japanese Captivity Japan's Gestapo: Murder, Mayhem and Torture in Wartime Asia, The Real Tenko, The Final Betrayal and  21st Century Courage (all published by Pen & Sword Books).

The book: Children of the Camps....JAPAN'S LAST FORGOTTEN VICTIMS was published in 2011 one year after my book was published "I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW" under my maiden name Tetske T. van der Wal is my memoir about our camp life, during that horrible time in captivity and under the rules of the Japanese military.
The following story which is written on page 103 of Mark's book confirms my story of an event I wrote.

On 25 January 1944, KEMPETAI  troops arrived at Muntilan Camp in Java in a bus, bringing with them a copy of a list they had previously forced the women camp leaders to draw up recording suitable young women and girls. A tenko was immediately called and the women on the list were ordered to go to the church (the camp being situated inside a monastery) for an inspection. The camp leaders and the camp doctor followed behind, protesting loudly to the Japanese officers that this was illegal and against the Geneva Convention. Their protestations were pointedly ignored until the Japanese tried to remove a group that they had selected from the camp. Resistance was strong. A large crowd of women and teenaged boys had gathered outside the church while the Japanese were inspecting the women. When the church door was flung open and the Kempetai tried to escort the women to their bus, violence broke out. The furious internees, their patience already exhausted by the inhuman treatment that they had all suffered from the Japanese,hurled clumps of dirt and stones at the Japanese soldiers. In turn the Japanese reacted violently, Kempetai officers even slashing at the unarmed women and children with their swords. By these methods, the Japanese managed to force their way through the crowd and the young girls were roughly bundled aboard the bus and driven out of the camp, many of the mothers left behind screaming and tearing at their clothes in anguish as their daughters disappeared to an unknown fate.
Three days later the Kempetai came back to the camp Muntilan. Another tenko was called and the remaining prisoners were offered a deal. The Japanese would accept volunteers to replace the women they had taken by force vefore. A handful of women, mostly respectable married, but a few of whom had been working as prostitutes before the war, raised their hands and volunteered in order to spare the younger girls from multiple rape. On 28 January 1944, thirteen young women from the camp were taken to Magelang.

My mother always talked about this story. She always told me this story in a real funny way, and she would laugh almost to the point of hysteria. She told me that when the women were throwing the clumps of dirt and grass and stones whatever they could lay their hands on, it was the most funniest thing to see these little yellow men trying to avoid getting hit. It was the most hilarious scene to see them ducking..Oh how mad we were at these "JAPS" she would say. She never told me the reason. She told me:"One day the Kempetai came to our camp in Moentilan and we were called for a roll call (Tenko) We stood their with our children in the hot sun, for a very long time and we had to bow over and over again. The Japanese picked out some women and girls who didn't do it right and took them into the church. When after awhile the women and girls came out the church and were crying, we knew they had been punished and we women got so angry, that's why we threw clumps of dirt and grass and stones at the Kempetai. And she would laugh again, thinking about it. She told me that they had been very brave to stand up to these rotten Japs. Of course we were all punished and did not get any food that night. But oh what a satisfaction was it to us that we had stood up that day and showed them that you do not mess with us.
She never told me that these young women and girls were taken for forced prostitution. Whenever she told me something about her camp experience it always was a funny story. I think she tried to spare me from all the atrocities she and her sister had experienced during that horrible life in captivity of the Japanese military.I often tried to confront her with a question I thought I had remembered. She always told me that things like that I described to her, had not happened, because bad things like that do not happen in real life.People do not do things to each other like that.Now I understand she tried to erase these things from my mind, the bad things which must have taken such an impression on me that it had been stuck in my mind deep inside, tucked away. So I believed her, and never spoke about it, not even with my husband, until after my mother died and we were retired and had more time on my hands I started to think.Than I knew that what was deep hidden in my mind were true events, things I had seen, and had made such a lasting impression on me. It's amazing what a four, five year old can remember. Sadly to say, these were only bad things I remembered. Never in my wildest dream I had any idea that my mother was raped in that church in camp Moentilan, while I was waiting outside for her. Always telling me that she had tripped in the church and fell, that's why she cried. She always told me that I was such a very good girl for waiting so patiently outside, she told me that she had to clean the church for the "JAPS". How my mother, her sister and all these women must have suffered at the hands of these barbaric Japanese military.

After the war, my mother was first taken to Semarang and from there we were taken by military plane to Bandoeng. My mother was very sick to the point that they thought she was not going to make it.We arrived in Bandoeng somewhere in the middle of January 1946 and we were taken to the (Java straat),where during the former Dutch Indies the Java center was, where it took my mother three month's to recuperate from all what these Japanese military had done to her. Her life would never be the same. She passed away in 2003. As long as I live I will fight for recognition from the Japanese government of today, for all the atrocities their forefathers have done to us, and to so many others.

The other day I received some pictures from a nice young man from Indonesia who lives in Bandoeng.I had asked him if he knew where the Java straat no 14 was. He right away went to the (Java straat) and took some pictures of the buildings. He told me that the street was now called Jawa street almost the same, and that the building where my mother had been was still there and that there was an orphanage a couple of doors from the building, where they had taken me.When I saw that picture of the orphanage I cried. I recognized the white pillars, where I had fallen asleep. One day I had runaway to look for my mother., and that's where they found me outside the building in the bushes beside the white pillars. It's funny how you can remember white pillars.For some reason I always thought that these white pillars were underneath the building.

The building now.  Jawan street 14, Bandung. Indonesia.
This young man; Erik is his name, told me that it's now an empty warehouse. He also made a picture from the orphanage , where I stayed during the time my mother was recovering. It was a few doors down the road at number 18, which he told me is still an orphanage run by Salvation Army.

All I remember are the white pillars, where I fell asleep.

 A very happy young woman.
1946 Just recovered from three months of being hospitalized


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