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Petition # 323: Welcome with a new beginning.

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Petition # 323: Welcome with a new beginning.

His Excellency Fumio Kishida, 
Prime Minister of Japan.                                                                                                                        

The Hague, 12 October 2021 
Petition: 323
Subject: Welcome with a new beginning.

Excellency, 
The Board and Members of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts respectfully welcome you to the position of Prime Minster of Japan and congratulate you with the appointment. As Foreign Secretary of the previous cabinet you became familiar with our Foundation and our monthly petitions. Previous Prime Ministers never acknowledgement receipt of our petitions which is discourteous and not called for in our dialogue. Nevertheless, we discussed the contents of our petitions with the Japanese Ambassadors in The Hague, and we believe that the Ambassador send the petitions with his comments to Tokyo. An acknowledgement of receipt of the petitions would restore a meaningful dialogue. We hope that you as the new Prime Minister would do so. Thus paying respect to the Dutch and their next of kin and accepting Japan’s historic responsibility for the misconduct by the Japanese military during the occupation of Netherlands East Indies during the Pacific war from 1941 till 1945. The pain and grief of lost ones, their own sufferings in the concentration camp and outside the camps, and the lack of understanding continues to haunt the surviving victims and the next of kin of those who, many died as a consequence of the sufferings.

Prime Minister,
There are many urgent issues you have to deal with in your new position. Both current ones and those with a historic nature. We ask you to take note of pending issues such as the recognition that Comfort Women who were forcefully recruited to act as sex slaves for the Japanese military and acknowledge the promises Japan made to the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to present the full history of each site listed on World Heritage List of the sites of the Meiji Industrial Revolution. In acting swiftly would mean a new beginning in our dialogue which at the moment is unilateral and is in fact at a standstill as there is no movement on Japan’s side.

Prime Minister,
I asked your predecessor to act so that next year 2022 our requests that both on the Comfort Women issue in accepting a suitable solution in listing the Comfort Women original documents on the UNESCO International Memory of the World Register and the Meiji Heritage issue are dealt with. Do not wait till the World Heritage Committee reconsiders its position in 2023 regarding the efforts Japan made to comply with its pledge of 2015. Let us start with a new beginning in the dialogue. 
I look forward to your acknowledgement of the receipt of this petition.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.

Petition # 322: The World Heritage Committee’s displeasure of not implementing to include World War II in the full history of the interpretive strategy of the sites on the World Heritage List of the Meiji Industrial Revolution

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga,  
Prime Minister of Japan.  

The Hague, 14 September 2021 
Petition: 322
Subject: The World Heritage Committee’s displeasure of not implementing to include World War II in the full history of the interpretive strategy of the sites on the World Heritage List of the Meiji Industrial Revolution 

Excellency, 
We discussed with the Ambassador in The Hague our previous petition concerning the World Heritage Committee (WHC) displeasure of not fulfilling in the interpretive strategy the full history of each site on the World Heritage List of Meiji Industrial Revolution. He questioned the status of workers at sites during World War II. He mentioned that the workers at the Hashima Coal Mine were not POW’s. He seemed to refer to the local oral statements that there were no instances of people forced to work at the coal mine. It confirms the observation by UNESCO that conscripted workers from other countries were considered to be Japanese nationals at the time and were treated as such. No wonder that the UNESCO mission concluded that remembering the victims is inadequate and that the interpretive measures to allow an understanding of those who during World War II were brought against their will and forced to work are currently INSUFFICIENT. 

Prime Minister,
In a letter dated 31 August 2021 from Ms Mechtild Rossler, director  of the UNESCO, to the president of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts she refers to Decision 42 COM 7B.10 that the World Heritage Committee “strongly encourages the State Party(Japan) to take into account best international practices for interpretation strategies when continuing its work on the interpretation of the full history od the property, both during and outside the Outstanding Universal Value period and in the digital interpretation materials”. The letter also refers back to “Especially, in developing the “interpretive strategy” Japan will sincerely respond to the recommendation that the strategy allows “an understanding of the full history of each site”. In the attachments it was made clear that Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat has overall responsibility for implementation of the framework for the conservation and management of the property! More specifically Japan is prepared to take measures that allow an understanding that there were a large number of Koreans who were brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites, and during World War II, the Government of Japan also implemented its policy of requisition. In this context was the suggestion by the Ambassador outrageous. I personally asked him to reconsider his suggestion.

Prime Minister,
I repeat my request that you personally to act, before you hand over your position, in the matter of the full interpretive strategy to remember the victims. Japan must not forget its misconduct during World War II and has to respect the history of each site listed on the World Heritage List. Do not wait till the World Heritage Committee reconsiders in 2023 the efforts Japan made to comply its pledge made in 2015. The displeasure of the WHC in strongly regretting that Japan has not fully implemented its recommendations is an insult to the victims and their next of kin. 

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.

NB “The story of Johan” a Japanese translation of the history of a POW in Fukuoka-2 in a lesson booklet.

Petition # 321: Full history of World Heritage Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.

Petition # 312: Full history of World Heritage Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga, 
Prime Minister of Japan.                                                                                                                        

The Hague, 10 August 2021 
Petition: 321
Subject: Full history of World Heritage Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.

Excellency, 
The World Heritage Committee (WHC) decided to inscribe the Sites of Meiji Industrial Revolution on the World Heritage List in July 2015. These sites were recognized for representing the first successful transfer of industrialization from the West to a non-Western country. The sites include several sites where during World War Two Dutch Prisoners of War (POW) were forced as slaves to work under harsh conditions. The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts objected to the inscription but was not successful in preventing the decision by the WHC. 
However, the WHC recommended that Japan would prepare an interpretive strategy for presentation of the property which allows an understanding of the full history of each site. The Japanese representative promised that Japan would take specific measures to respond to the WHC’s recommendations.
The State of Conservation reports that Japan purposefully distorts the letter and spirit of the 2015 promises. In 2017 and 2018 the WHC requested Japan to fully implement its promises, but Japan failed again. The Industrial Heritage Information Centre opened in 2020 presents a one-sided interpretation of the site’s history. Completely ignoring the historical facts. The Information Centre distort history by exclusively presenting selective “testimonies” from former Japanese residents of Hashima denying any discrimination or abuse at the site. The fact that among others more then 4.000 Dutch Prisoners of War worked as slave laborers are totally ignored. They had no choice: they were forced in fact enslaved. Their lives had no value!

Prime Minister,
You should be ashamed that representatives of Japan agree to an interpretive strategy to allow an understanding of the full history of each site, but in practice ignore these promises, distorting historic events. The displeasure of the WHC in strongly regretting that Japan has not fully implemented its recommendations requires immediate action. Would ask you to interfere and instruct Japan’s representative at the forthcoming World Heritage Meeting to follow best international practices on the interpretation of the full history of the sites but also involving the industrial companies and coal mines who employed Dutch POW’s during World War Two. 

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.

Petition # 320: Revieuw petities 315 – 319

Petition # 320: Revieuw petities 315 – 319

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga, 
Prime Minister of Japan.                                                                                                                        

The Hague, 13 July 2021 
Petition: 320
Subject: Review petitions 315 – 319.

Excellency, 

In the Netherlands restrictions on the Corona pandemic are partly lifted allowing us to restart our monthly demonstration. The petition addressed to you as Prime Minster of Japan will be handed over in person to his Excellency Hidehisa Horinouchi, the Japanese ambassador in The Hague. During the pandemic we continued to write our petitions, which was handed over to the Japanese Embassy in The Hague. However, we were not able to discus the contents of the petitions with the Ambassador. In presenting current petition we will review with the Ambassador any comment he has received from Tokyo on the forementioned petitions 315-319. Below we address the main contents of these petitions in a nutshell.

Petition 315 of 9 February “Renewal of the dialogue with the Japanese Ambassador”
Now that the Corona pandemic allows us to reopen the dialogue it is opportune moment to review Japan’s willingness to consider the moral aspects of Japan’s war time history in Dutch East Indies.

Petition 316 of 9 March 2021 “Will the resignation of Mr. Yoshiro Mori be the beginning to pay more respect for Comfort Women?”
We are incensed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on their website that the Comfort Women’s issue is based on “false claims that the Comfort Women forcefully were taken away and used as sex slaves.” Many independent investigations conclude the opposite. The Human Rights Council 1996 report by the UN special rapporteur Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy adopted by Human Rights Council made that noticeably clear.

Petition 317 of 6 April 2021 “Full history of World Heritage Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.”
It is a shame that the Japanese authorities ignore recommendations and conditions laid down by the World Heritage Committee. The issue concerns deeply as more then 4.000 Dutch POWs were enslaved at the sites during the war. Paying respect is the least Japan can and follow up on the WDC recommendations.

Petition 318 of 11 May 2021 “The meaning of Remembrance Day in the Netherlands for us”
The Dutch remember on the Fourth of May the victims of the wars in Europe, Asia and peace keeping operations at the Dam in Amsterdam. Japan remembers their war victims including war criminals at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. These convicted Japanese war criminals do not deserve such “honor”. Stop worshipping convicted war criminals Ms. Angela Merkel stated in her remembrance speech. Condemn and dishonor war crimes in accordance with the United Nations Conventions!

Petition 319 8 JUNE 2021. “Why are Japanese concentration camps in Dutch East Indies not an issue in Japan?”
According to Mr. Ian Buruma the Japanese government and people consider the Japanese concentration camps in Dutch East Indies as part of the war and not an issue to be dealt with and to be remembered. This not only a shocking conclusion but explains Japan’s disrespect and lack of consideration of the historic wrongs by the Japanese government and its military during the Pacific war. Japan must recognize this and apologize! 

Prime Minister,
We repeat: In our previous petition we reminded you of the war crimes and the many Japanese military and their aides who were punished by the Military Courts. We sincerely believe that Japan will ultimately be reminded of these war crimes and be obligated to acknowledge them and pay respect to the few survivors and the next of kin of those died. You must agree with the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts that a moral review of the past is long overdue. We can not change horrors of the past, but we can together accommodate remorse and respect and accommodate honorably the various points in our petitions. It would be very welcome if the Ambassador is able to react on these petitions.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President

Petition # 319: Why are Japanese concentration camps in Dutch East Indies not an issue in Japan?

Petition # 319: Why are Japanese concentration camps in Dutch East Indies not an issue in Japan?

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga, 
Prime Minister of Japan.                                                                                                                        

The Hague, 8 June 2021  
Petition: 319
Subject: Why are Japanese concentration camps in Dutch East Indies not an issue in Japan?

Excellency, 
In preparing for this petition during the Corona pandemic I came across an article by Mr. Ian Buruma. Mr. Buruma, a well-respected Dutch journalist who studied Chinese in Leiden and film science in Tokyo, made some interesting remarks. During a presentation remembering the capitulation of Japan he mentioned that Japan expresses more remorse of their war against Asians for then colonials, such as the Dutch nationals in Dutch East Indies.
In the Netherlands, the Pacific War means Japanese concentration camps! For the Japanese only 20.000 Dutch civilians lost their lives in those camps, whilst in China more then 20.000.000 died during Japan’s war campaign. The Japanese remorse for China is considered by many in Japan as “unfair” as Asians were attacked. Under the banner Asia for the Asians started Japan on 7 December 1941 the Pacific War with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The victims of the Pacific War were part of the liberation of former colonies of Europe and the United States of America in Asia. The Japanese consider the Japanese concentration camps as part of the war and not an issue to be dealt with at great length. This conclusion is shocking and explains why Japan sticks to the San Francisco Peace Treaty as “Everything has been agreed and there is no further obligation for remorse nor condolence.”

Prime Minister,
In our previous petition we reminded you of the war crimes and the many Japanese military and their aides who were punished by the Military Courts. We sincerely believe that Japan will ultimately be reminded of these war crimes and be obligated to acknowledge them and pay respect to the few survivors and the next of kin of those died. I hope that you will agree with the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts that a moral review of the past is long overdue. We can not change horrors of the past, but we can together accommodate remorse and respect. The Japanese concentration camps both in Japan for POW’s and Dutch East Indies for the Dutch civilians must be remembered officially by the Japanese government!

Prime Minister,
Due to the Corona pandemic, we have not discussed with Japanese Ambassador in The Hague the petitions of this year. It is possible that we start the monthly demonstration in July. It would be very welcome if the Ambassador is then in position to react on these petitions.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.

Petition # 318: The meaning of Remembrance Day in The Netherlands for us.

Petition # 318: The meaning of Remembrance Day in The Netherlands for us.

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga, 
Prime Minister of Japan.                                                                                                                        

The Hague, 11 May 2021
Petition: 318
Subject: The meaning of Remembrance Day in The Netherlands for us.

Excellency, 
The Dutch National Remember Day is each year on the Fourth of May. The war victims are remembered by those who survived the horrors of the war in Europe and Asia. But also, by the next of kin of those who did not survive the war or died after the war, many due to the cruelties by the Japanese military and their aides. The two minutes of silence at the Dam Monument in Amsterdam moves us all. We relive on what happened. After the war we were left alone with pain, sorrow, and disbelief. The Dutch community closely related to the Dutch East Indies remains angry that Japan continues to worship its war criminals at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. We realize that after more then 75 years there is no peace for us. We can not forget the Pacific War with the widespread cruelty by the Japanese military and their civilian aides. 

Prime Minister,
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East of Tokyo tried and sentenced 25 major Japanese war criminals for plotting and waging the Pacific War. The Dutch judge on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East Prof Bert Roling made it clear that he made his verdict only based on legal evidence. He passed subsequently the death penalty on 9 war criminals. Between 1945 and 1951 Allied Military Commissions assembled war crimes committed throughout the Far East during the Pacific war. They condemned 920 Japanese military and civilians to death and sentenced some 3.000 others to prison terms. The accused had been found guilty of war crimes. Today I remind you of the war crimes conducted by the Japanese military collectively and individually during the occupation of Dutch East Indies during World War Two. At that time, I was young, but I remember the helplessness and fear. Later I learned what had happened to my father and grandfather. 

Prime Minister,
On 5th of May the Chancellor of Germany Mrs. Merkel made it clear in her remembrance speech that there is no time limitation in punishing war crimes. Stop worshipping war criminals. Do not visit the Yasukuni Shrine. Why visit the Yasukuni Shrine whilst so many of the Japanse citizens suffered from the conduct by the major Japanese war criminals? Condemn war crimes in accordance with the United Nations conventions! 

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.

Petition # 317: Full history of World Heritage Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.

Petition # 317: Full history of World Heritage Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga, 
Prime Minister of Japan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

The Hague, 13 April 2021 
Petition: 317
Subject: Full history of World Heritage Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.

Excellency, 
The World Heritage Committee (WHC) decided to include the Sites of Meiji Industrial Revolution on the World Heritage List in July 2015. These sites were recognized for representing the first successful transfer of industrialization from the West to a non-Western country. The sites include several sites where during World War Two Dutch Prisoners of War (POW’s) were forced as slaves to work under harsh conditions. The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts objected to the listing but was not successful in preventing the decision by the WHC.

Prime Minister,
However, the WHC recommended that Japan prepare an interpretive strategy for presentation of the property which allows an understanding of the full history of each site. The Japanese representative promised that Japan would take specific measures to sincerely respond to the WHC’s recommendations. In the State of Conservation reports Japan consciously distort the letter and spirit of the 2015 promises. In 2018 the WHC requested Japan to fully implement its promises but Japan failed again. The Industrial Heritage Information Centre opened in 2020 presents an one-sided interpretation of the site’s history. Completely ignoring the historical facts. The Information Centre distort history by exclusively presenting selective “testimonies” from former Japanese residents of Hashima denying any discrimination or abuse at the site. The fact that among others more than 4.000 Dutch Prisoners of War worked as slave laborers have been totally ignored. They had no choice: they were forced in fact enslaved. Their lives had no value!

Prime Minister,
You should be ashamed that representatives of Japan agree to an interpretive strategy to allow an understanding of the full history of each site, but in practice ignore these commitments, distorting historic events. On behalf of the still living Dutch POW’s and the relatives of those who died during their enslavement or later because of their hardship, I firmly request Japan to comply with its own commitment to implement the WHC recommendations. It would be best suited that the industrial companies and coal mines at present established at the listed sites make clear that during World War Two Dutch POW’s were enslaved at their sites. 

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.

Petition # 316: Will the resignation of Mr. Yoshiro Mori be the beginning to pay more respect for Comfort Women?

Petition # 316: Will the resignation of Mr. Yoshiro Mori be the beginning to pay more respect for Comfort Women?

The Hague, 9 March 2021 
Petition: 316
Subject: Will the resignation of Mr. Yoshiro Mori be the beginning to pay more respect for Comfort Women?

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga, 
Prime Minister of Japan.

Excellency, 
Mr. Yoshiro Mori had to resign as head of the Tokyo Olympics Organization Committee. The pressure to do this, despite his powerful position as former Prime Minister, was due to his inappropriate remarks about women. The people of Japan, traditionally following the antiquated views on the position of women, do not seem to accept these any longer. The position of women in society as well as in public life is changing. This is a global trend which Japan appears to follow as evident in the reactions to Mr. Mori’s resignation.

Prime Minister,
Despite the difficult times the world is encountering due to the Corona pandemic the public reaction to Mr. Mori resignation is encouraging. Nevertheless, it is worrying that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states on their web site that clearly on the facts the Ministry expanded the explanations of Japan’s position on the Comfort Women issue. It counters false claims that Comfort Women were forcefully taken away and used as sex slaves. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has long hesitated to speak clearly on the facts of Japan’s wartime history, leading to widespread falsehoods and misunderstanding. This is an outrageous statement and typifies the hidden shame of Japan’s war time history!

Prime Minister,
Yesterday was International Women’s Day, promoting equality and respect for women. It is time now for Japan to follow up on Mr. Mori resignation and acknowledge that Comfort Women were sex slaves for the Japanese Military and forced into prostitution. An honorable apology is long overdue. Japan officials must stop denying the historic facts and pay respect to women in particular Comfort Women.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.

Petition # 315: Renewal of the dialogue with the Japanese Ambassador in the Hague?

Petition # 315: Renewal of the dialogue with the Japanese Ambassador in the Hague?

The Hague, 9 February 2021
Petition: 315
Subject: Renewal of the dialogue with the Japanese Ambassador in the Hague?

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga,  
Prime Minister of Japan.                                                                            

Excellency,
Due to the Corona pandemic we had to close our offices in The Hague. As a result, we have limited contacts with our members. Nevertheless, the board of the Foundation Japanese Honorary Debts had a meeting in discussing the effects of all our petitions and discussions since 1990. The hard conclusion is that Japanese governments and their representatives in The Hague respect our efforts in keeping a dialogue. However, in the discussions and communications there is no commitment to demonstrate a willingness to consider the moral aspects of Japan’s war time history in Dutch East Indies.

We hope and expect, after the frightening experience of
the Corona pandemic, that the Japanese Ambassador in the Hague his Excellency Hidehisa
Horinouchi will take the opportunity to give the “Dialogue” a renewed meaning to
the moral aspects of Japans war time history. Following the lead, which the new
President of the United States of America advocates.

In the post Corona area, we expect a meaningful restart
to the dialogue. We expect to receive a confirmation from you as Prime Minister
of Japan that the Japanese Ambassador to The Netherlands is to explore with the
Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts such a renewed dialogue.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.

Petition # 314: In the changing Corona world we cannot forget the past.

Petition # 314: In the changing Corona world we cannot forget the past.

His Excellency Yoshihide Suga, 
Prime Minister of Japan.                                                                                                                                                              

The Hague, 12 January 2021
Petition: 314
Subject: In the changing Corona world we cannot forget the past.

Excellency, 
The board and members of the Foundation Japanese Honorary Debts wish you, your Cabinet, and the people of Japan a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year. During the present Corona pandemic, we all try to keep healthy and safe, and reflect also on the future not forgetting the past. In last year’s petition 302 I wrote that the effects of World War II are still not resolved satisfactorily for the individuals who endured the war. They still suffer from the memories and the pain both physically and emotionally. The survivors, the majority in their eighties, are again in the Corona lockdown cruelly reminded of the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies.  They cannot forget and feel the pain they had to endure during Japan’s occupation. Their next of kin try to console them but are restricted by the Corona lockdown. Due to Corona the world has changed dramatically. Let us hope that the vaccinations will restore the situation in a positive way.

Prime Minister,
In the same petition 302 I refer to: “a letter dated 29 May 2019 addressed to Mr. J.A.M Rijkes from Culemborg, written by the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Japan in the Netherlands. He wrote, abbreviated: “Prime Ministers of Japan officially stated that Japan expresses the feelings of deep remorse and sincere apology for its actions during the war.” In the letter, he refers further: ”That in accordance with the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and the 1956 Protocol Japan paid 10.000.000 USD for the purpose of expressing sympathy and regret for the suffering inflicted during the war. The Dutch Government and the Japanese Government are in agreement that all war-related reparations have been settled with these agreements are regulated in accordance with international law.”

Prime Minister,
We still do not agree with this statement. However, we concluded with our lawyers, that it is time to confront the Dutch Government with the statement in the letter. We started a litigation on the grounds of a wrongful act resulting from the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Yoshida-Stikker Protocol. The possible result of this litigation does not indemnify Japan and itspeople of its moral obligations. I repeat therefore our request on behalf of the Dutch people from the Dutch East Indies to develop together with the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts a solidarity program for and in support of the victims and their relatives.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
President.