Petition # 289; Slave Labourers

Petition #289; Slave Labourers


His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague, 11 December  2018
Petition: 289
Subject: Slave labourers.

It is a pity that your intention to visit The Netherlands after the G-20 meeting in Buenos Airos did not materialize. We had hoped  to discuss  with you personally the position of the individual Dutch war time victims from the Dutch East Indies.
In a personal discussion we would have made two points clear:

  1. For the long term historic relations between the people of Japan and the Netherlands it is essential that the feeling of distrust and lack of respect is removed,
  2. The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts represents by statue the Dutch wartime victims who want to come to terms with the Japanese government (and the Japanese firms who benefitted during and after World War II) in resolving the ill feeling.

Prime Minister,
During the occupation of the Dutch East Indies by the Japanese military from 7 December 1941 till 15 August 1945 they grossly violated the 1907 The Hague convention and other internationally accepted conduct of war conventions. Contrary to those conventions Japanese companies employed prisoners of war as slave labourers. They were transported  by ships to Japan or other territories occupied by the Japanese military. Many of them died during those transports in the famously known “hell ships”. Those who arrived at the intended destinations hardly survived due to the wretchedly poor conditions both during their voyage and in the concentration camps. Many Japanese companies benefitted from the slave employment and expropriation of assets, including private bank deposits.  Their successors should find it an honour to acknowledge and compensate the victims.
In the Netherlands the National Railways transported many thousands of Jews to German concentration camps and were paid by the German occupying forces. The present Board of the Railways board is ashamed that they transported the Jews and got paid for it. They decided with all respect to compensate survivors and their next of kin.  The Japanese shipping companies and other Japanese employers of slave labour should have the same decency.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk