His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague, 11 November 2014
Subject: By Imperial/Royal command
It is with great respect and admiration that we heard the wise words spoken by both His Majesty the King of the Netherlands and His Majesty the Emperor of Japan at the state banquet during the recent State visit in Japan.
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan raised an important point:
“There had been several earlier plans for Queen Beatrix to visit Japan, but they were cancelled each time due to opposition in the Netherlands.
It was most unfortunate that these long friendly relations between Japan and the Netherlands should have been marred because of World War II. While never forgetting this past, we hope to give more attention than ever to the promotion of good will between our two countries.”
In his reply His Majesty the King of the Netherlands made his position very clear:
“We will not forget – cannot forget – the experiences of the Dutch civilians and soldiers in the Second World War. The wounds inflicted in those years continue to overshadow many people’s lives. Grief for victims endures to this day. Memories of imprisonment, forced labor and humiliation have left scars on the lives of many. The Japanese people, too, suffered terribly during the war, especially in the final phase, marked by such destruction and violence. Acknowledging the sufferings of others provides a foundation for reconciliation. Many in Japan and the Netherlands have actively worked to foster such a reconciliation, enabling new trust to grow.”
The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts did not object to this State visit by their Majesties the King and Queen, because of the hope and belief in their goodwill and genuine interest in the well-being of the Dutch Nationals, who suffered both inside and outside the Japanese concentration camps at the hands of the Japanese military during the occupation of Dutch East Indies.
The monarchs of our countries have spoken and instructed you and me to come to terms “enabling new trust to grow.” The people of Japan and the people of the Netherlands expect, and deserve, this from us too. It is not a political issue, but a moral issue that needs to be resolved. The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts has painstakingly tried to maintain a genuine dialogue with various Ambassadors representing Japan in The Hague, the Netherlands. We suggested various possibilities to bridge the gap but met a stalemate of legal arguments, whilst we must find the moral solution acceptable both for the people of Japan and of the Netherlands.
Morality is strongest when it is transferred into tangible and real actions and results.
You and I now have a honorable challenge to meet, set by my King and your Emperor. In my capacity as the trusted representative of the war victims and in your capacity as a well-respected statesman we have the chance to recreate shared morality between our two peoples.
We cannot fail our Royals, as they are the ultimate moral embodiment of our two peoples. You and I now hold the key to reconcile that period in history that is so hard to forget. It would be a personal shame for both of us to not succeed in this challenge.
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and His Majesty the King of the Netherlands expect that we move forward. I am prepared to do so and expect you will do so also.
Amendments to the 1956 Yoshida-Stikker protocol may be the base for arriving at an understanding.
It is never too late to do the right thing.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,
J.F. van Wagtendonk