Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Australian woman seeks apology from Japan

IN 1944, a truck full of high-ranking Japanese officers arrived at a prison camp in Java. The young female prisoners were forced to line up. Among them was Jan O'Herne. She was 21.
For 50 years Mrs O'Herne, who now lives in Adelaide, kept the story — and the horrors — to herself. Now she is going to Washington, where she will tell the US Congress of what she endured.
more than half a century after her dignity was stripped from her, Mrs O'Herne is still waiting for an apology from Japan.Penelope Debelle, Adelaide
February 14, 2007

The Year of 2001

Dear Madam,

On the occasion that the Asian Women's Fund, in cooperation with the Government and the people of Japan, offers atonement from the Japanese people to the former wartime comfort women, I wish to express my feelings as well.

The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women.

As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future.

I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations.

Furthermore, Japan also should take an active part in dealing with violence and other forms of injustice to the honor and dignity of women.

Finally, I pray from the bottom of my heart that each of you will find peace for the rest of your lives.

Respectfully yours,

Junichiro Koizumi
Prime Minister of Japanmofa

A gathering looks back with sorrow and prayer

By Tony Stephens
April 25 2003

On Anzac eve, the Japanese went to St Mary's Cathedral to apologise. Shigenobu Watanabe, a Buddhist priest, offered a prayer. Film director Shigeki Chiba brought a letter from Cardinal Peter Shirayanagi in Tokyo.

They received apologies, too. Christine Dudley, a lecturer in Macquarie University's Japanese Studies department, apologised for the racism in the old White Australia policy.

At the centre of this service of reconciliation stood Jan Ruff-O'Herne. Now 80 and living in Adelaide, she was a Dutch national interned in Indonesia by the Japanese invaders in World War II. At 21, she was dumped in a brothel for the benefit of Japanese officers. The Japanese called such young women "comfort women".

Mrs Ruff-O'Herne said yesterday: "It's a hideous euphemism. We were sex slaves for the military." She has been much honoured for her work on behalf of the sex slaves, having been recognised by the Australian and Dutch governments and awarded the RSL's Anzac Peace Prize last year.

The Pope recently made her a Dame Commander in the Order of St Sylvester.

Mrs Ruff-O'Herne said of Cardinal Shirayanagi's apology, sent even though the Japanese Government still refuses to accept any responsibility: "This is a healing of wounds, a bridge of peace."

Two former soldiers who had fought the Japanese, Brother Colin Campbell and Father Frank Callanan, preached reconciliation. So did Tom Uren, the former MP and a survivor of the infamous railway. Choirs from Japan, China, Fiji and the Women's Federation for World Peace sang.

Father Claude Mostowick, chaplain to Pax Christi, read submissions from United States scientists who had worked on the atomic bomb project, arguing against using the bomb on people.

If it must be used, they said, it could be dropped on an uninhabited island as a clear demonstration of its power. Their plea failed.

A Japanese cruiser had escorted the Anzacs to Gallipoli. At the end of World War I, the Japanese argued for a racial equality clause in the peace treaty with Germany. Australia's Prime Minister Billy Hughes attacked the proposal, which was lost.

Last night, however, Kayo Yoshida handed a painting by her artist sister, Mizuyo Kawabata, to Mrs Ruff-O'Herne. "It will hang in a place of honour in my home," she said.Smh com

See also how Korean Americans pushed Honda, an American Congressman, into passing the resolution.

The man executed as the war criminal for the charge was Yoshiharu Okada. (Maybe Keiji Okada, I’m not sure how to read the kanji.) He was found guilty for kidnapping, forcing prostitution, and rape of Dutch women at Semarang and exectued by the Dutch.

Okada seemed to have been ordered by his superior to set up a officers’ club, and so he asked Governor Miyano of Sumerang to have some Indonesians working under him to recruit some women. The day before the club opened, he visits the women for the first time to see how everything is, and reports to a visiting general staff that, “They are so cheerful and young that I’m worried some of our men might fall in love and commit suicide together.” The facility was closed down after the General Staff Yamamoto hears that the women were taken by force. (There is also testimony that the faciltiy was simply shut down because business was not good and it had to be restarted using non-white women.) Of the 35 women at the officer’s club, 25 were found to have been forced into prostitution, but the tribunal could not make clear who had been responsible for the actual forcing since the local Indonesian officials were never called in as witness, and find Okada guilty on the basis that Okada should have known no (or only a few) women would willingly become prostitutes, so his orders for recruitment was equivalent to ordering a kidnapping. Okada writes in his diary, “I have treated them so well, and yet they are now accusing me with blatant lies. Alas, I imagine they must do so now that the tides have turned and they cannot claim to have cooperated with us. I see I have been made the mastermind. I have nothing more to say. My hands have been bitten by the dogs I have fed.” (I believe the dogs refer to the Japanese owners of the clubs and not the women.)

The man who ordered Okada, Asao Okubo, comminted suicide in Japan after receiving the notification of detainment, and was never tried. Another man, Shozo Ikeda was sentenced to 15 years in prison, although he was on an official trip to Tokyo at the time of the crime. Nine others were sentenced to 2 to 20 years in prison, including the owners of the club
two cents at occidentalism

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