His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague, 12 August 2014
Subject: The meaning of August 15th
We remember the 15th of August 1945 as the day that Emperor Hirohito ordered his Imperial Army to cease the fighting and to surrender. For the then surviving Dutch prisoners the news of the Japanese surrender came later, but they were not liberated. They were kept in the concentration camps. Those outside the camps were subjected to further terror by the Japanese invoked Indonesian revolutionaries. On the 15th of August we remember the dead and the sufferings we endured. We are supposed to celebrate the end of the war. The truth is that those who survived and are still alive fully remember their fate at the hands of the Japanese military and the follow on of the Indonesian revolutionaries. But at the ceremonies they remember their lost ones. In particular how their lives ended through execution, torture, starvation, illnesses and lack of medicine and hygiene. For many of the survivors the end of the war meant a new challenge to survive. They had to move on for themselves, for their families and their children in particular and for their parents who lost all. They cannot forget and subsequently do not have respect for Japans’ failure to acknowledge their war past and their moral responsibilities.
In this context it is outrageous that your government does not accept the advice of the UN Human Rights Council to acknowledge responsibility for the Comfort Women issues. It was possibly the last opportunity for your government to do so honorably, in demonstrating Japan’s sincerity to resolve the issues. The world will not forget Japans’ refusal to follow the UN Human Rights Council advice. It will question Japans’ standing as a responsible compassionate member of the international community, the United Nations. How remorseful is Japan for its past behavior? How long can you maintain this position of historical denial? How will Japanese voters react to the shame? The world is not all about economics and commerce, but it is ultimately about integrity in accepting history and humanity.
The MH17 plane disaster confronted the people of The Netherlands with the importance of the United Nations in maintaining an international community with respect for humanity and integrity. The pictures of the disaster site and the disrespect for the remains of the victims will be remembered always. His Excellency Mr. Timmermans, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the feelings and the disgust of the Dutch very clear in his speech to the UN Security Council. At this raw time for the Dutch Japan’s disregard for its obligations to both the Dutch and the wider UN is unacceptable.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,
J.F. van Wagtendonk
cc UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Attachment: High Commissioner Mrs. Navi Pillay Japan’s approach to the issue of “Comfort Women” causing further violations of victims’ human rights.