Petitie #218: learning from the past


The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts notes your election victory and your appointment as Japan’s Prime Minister for the second time. In October 2006 our petition 143 welcomed you as Prime Minister of Japan the first time and congratulated you with the position. You announced then in your inaugural speech your intentions to change the constitution, to strengthen ties with China and South Korea and modernize Japan’s educational system. We suggested that was an opportune moment to learn from the past and reconsider the damage done by previous Japanese governments to Japan’s war victims both at home as well as in the previously occupied territories.

During your first tenure you ignored our suggestions.

Prime Minister
We are shocked that at the beginning of your second tenure you seem to ignore again the historic facts by announcing your intention to reconsider the so called Kono statement. The statement intended to announce the findings of the study on the issue of “comfort women.” The results of the study were in our view not acceptable as they did not address adequately the consequences of the apology, nor address the redress of damage done to victims and their next of kin. Hence the many resolutions passed by among others the Dutch parliament demanding a sincere apology and redress for the enforced sexual slavery of Dutch women. Proof of that fact you will find in the verdict by the Batavia Military Tribunal passing sentence on Japanese military and civilians in the so called Semarang Coerced Prostitution case. The sentences were severe and included the death penalty, executed on 27 November 1948, and long prison sentences “for committing war crimes including the movement of girls and women from concentration camps into enforced prostitution, enforcing prostitution and continued rape”.

Prime Minister
In your election pledges you presented yourself as the leader Japan needs now to restore its finances and its position in the world. In order to impress the world a sincere apology accompanied with a suitable compensation to victims of the Imperial Army’s conduct in South East Asia during World War Two, in particular in Dutch East Indies, is required. An apology by you is meaningless if that apology is not carried by Parliament. An apology by the people of Japan represented in Parliament is the only acceptable apology to war victims and their next of kin. You are now in a strong position to demonstrate the change by asking Parliament to support a motion to make an apology and to authorize you to seek settlements with individual groups of victims represented by non-governmental organizations like the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

Prime Minister
Any true apology requires redress. There are many ways within our different cultures to overcome the present gap in understanding as to what fair redress is. It is not a legal matter. Instead, it is one of honour and respect in accepting moral responsibility. As Japan wants to befriend the world in order to protect its economy it has to compromise and show good will by taking initiatives. A sincere apology with redress carried by the Japanese Parliament will give Japan the benefit and support in other initiatives.

We look forward to hearing from you soon. And contrary to your predecessors please acknowledge the receipt of this petition. It would be an excellent start to your new government and to the New Year.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,

J.F. van Wagtendonk