His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague, 9 June 2020
Subject: Why do we continue our dialogue?
The lockdown during the Corona Pandemic gave us time to reflect and consider why we have a dialogue. The lockdown is being released slowly and we intend to continue the dialogue with your Ambassador in The Hague as soon as it is permitted to meet him personally. Our important petitions 305 “Past Corona Epidemic” and 306 “The war is still with us” will be discussed then. But also, in the context of our dialogue, how the Corona Pandemic has influenced the future relationships in considering the past.
The historic facts are that the individual Dutch from Dutch East Indies, occupied by the Japanese Military during 1942-1945, have been victims of wrongful acts by members of the Japanese armed forces. Japan was at the time of the Second World War a party to The Hague Convention (IV) of 1907 and it had to respect the Laws and Customs of War with the annexed Regulations, including Article 3. Japan ratified the Convention (IV) on 13 December 1917 and is thus bound by Article 3 ever since. The 1907 Hague Convention (IV) is a provision of conventional Humanitarian International Law. It must be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to provide for direct payment to individual persons, victims of acts in violation of the Regulation of Article 3.
The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts was established on April 4, 1990 in The Hague with the aim of defending the interests of ex-POWs, civilians and their surviving family members, who were detained or interned by acts of the occupying Japanese government and their military during the Second World War. Seeking to make clear that such acts constituted violations of International Humanitarian Law, contrary to the 1907 Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Custom of War on Land and the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War and forcing the Japanese government to admit to the violations and pay monetary compensation to individual victims.
The 1951 Yoshida-Stikker protocol waived the individual rights of ex-POWs and civilian detainees to claim compensation. The San Francisco Peace Treaty diplomatically resolved, at the expense of the individual victims, Japan’s obligation under the Hague Convention (IV). The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts tried to resolve this shameful politically enforced result by lobbying extensively to secure a legislative solution through the enactment of law that would provide compensation to victims. The Japanese government, in 1993 already established as economic world power, was financially able to compensate the individual victims, but did not wish to resolve the issue of compensation honorably. The Foundation had no alternative than to resort to litigation. In the litigation members of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts tried to establish that the Japanese military had subjected the Dutch ex-POWs and civilian detainees (inside and outside the concentration camps) to cruel and inhumane treatment in violation of International Humanitarian Law. But also, to obtain a sincere public apology by the Japanese government and the recognition that the Dutch individual victims have the right to claim compensation for the cruel and inhuman treatment by the Japanese military in violating International Humanitarian Law.
In continuing our dialogue we wish to emphasize that despite more than 300 petitions we still believe that 75 years after the end of World War Two Japan and the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts should be able to resolve the issue of maltreatment by the Japanese military during World War Two in an honorable and respectful way by taking into account the historic facts and the Japanese desire to respect law and order including the The Hague Convention(VI). The Corona Pandemic has changed much. Under the changed circumstances it must be possible, as with the Asian Women’s Fund, to contend that the waived claims should be compensated.
As ever we are
looking forward to the discussion with the Japanese Ambassador in The Hague and
to an early formal reply by you as Prime Minister of Japan commemorating the
end of World War Two 75 years ago.
On behalf of the
Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.
J.F. van Wagtendonk