Petition # 306: The war is still with us.
His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague, 12 May 2020
Subject: The war is still with us.
On May 4th, in a moving speech at the National Monument in Amsterdam, His Royal Highness King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander remembered the war 75 years ago. On a virtually empty Dam, due to the Corona pandemic, he expressed his feelings that all of us are deeply involved in the annual remembrance of those who died during the war in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, including Dutch East Indies and at sea. And that our thoughts were also with those who survived and lost their dearests. The empty chairs in the church, De Nieuwe Kerk, were symbolic for those who did not return. The war continues to influence generations. The war is still with us. Those who returned to The Netherlands, often with unparalleled physical and mental disorders, they remember. Many of the survivors remained silent, but still suffer from their horrendous experiences. The King made it as his Message that we cannot look away-, cannot explain away-, cannot wipe away- nor separate and not to make normal which is not normal. In view of the Corona virus we had to give up some of our freedom. That is different from losing freedom to an occupant with an ideology without empathy, killing millions in battles and concentration camps and outside those camps.
We will never forget without remembering the past. It is up to us, the present generations, to speak on behalf of the dead and the survivors, 75 years after the war ended. Now the Corona virus is hitting us all hard. Every day there is sadness and mourning. The people of The Netherlands and Japan share the fear and insecurity. It is a new situation which we hope will be over soon so that we can go back to normal. At the same time, it is an opportunity to reflect. Since 15th August 1945, the Dutch from Dutch East Indies, who lost but all, were hoping that they could return to their homes and rebuild on the war loses. This was not to be. Similarly, the Japanese people hoped that ending the war would bring a new beginning. Global politics and lack of empathy with the survivors created a world without mercy and compassion. The Corona virus brought us all back to that same unfinished situation.
In the restart after Corona we must try not to repeat the unfinished business of acknowledgment and compassion and remember the historic obligation of Japan to the Dutch from Dutch East Indies.
In view of the extremely strict social distancing rules in The Netherlands I will be handing over the envelope with today’s petition to the Japanese Ambassador in The Hague.
Since we do not have the customary discussion with the Ambassador, I would welcome a personal reply from you or a letter from the Ambassador with your personal views.
I look forward to your reply or message.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.
J.F. van Wagtendonk