Statements UN

Human Rights Council 33rd Session Oral statement

Human Rights Council

33rd  session, September 2016

Oral Statement

Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development



Mr President,


The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts acts on behalf of former Dutch Prisoners of War and civilian internees who suffered during the Japanese occupation of South East Asia during WW ll.

Families were split up; they were treated harshly in separate camps for men and for women and children. Boys over 10 years of age were separated from their mothers. Those who, on racial grounds, were left outside of the camps were discriminated. All were submitted to forced labour, sexual slavery and other atrocities by the Japanese military.

Japan has a moral obligation to acknowledge the plight of war victims they caused during the Pacific War.

Nations who wage war cannot be exempted from impunity if their military commits war crimes. During wartime the UN conventions, and earlier the League of Nations conventions, protect civilians and POW’s in occupied territories.

Japan as a member of the UN ignores its responsibilities by denying the consequences of martial law. Victims suffered from systematic military terror. Many died of deliberately enforced starvation, lack of medicines and even of executions, ignoring the laws of war.

The Japanese military disregarded Human Rights at a large scale.

In accordance with UN conventions the crimes of the Japanese military qualify as war crimes, therefore are not limited by the 1951 San Francisco Peace treaty. The government of Japan continues to express the view that the war crimes issue has been resolved by the Peace Treaty.

Japan must acknowledge its responsibility for the war crimes of its military during the Pacific war. The Human Rights Council cannot ignore Japan’s past and present conduct ignoring UN conventions.

On behalf of all victims of Japanese military terror in South East Asia during the Pacific war we request the Human Rights Council to insist that the Japanese government acknowledges the past behaviour of the Japanese military without any reservations, and that Japan comes to lasting terms with UN approved NGO’s representing the victims.

Thank you for your attention and we look forward to your actions.


Written statement 28th Human Rights Council March 2015

Japan’s war crimes


In January 2015 CNN and NHK quoted the Prime Minister of Japan as saying, regarding the beheadings by Islamic State of two Japanese hostages:

“We are deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism and we denounce it in the strongest terms. To the terrorists, we will never, never forgive them for this act.”

In stating this, did the Prime Minister of Japan realize that the Japanese Military violated human rights in exactly the same way during World War II? The Japanese military used the beheading of innocent civilians and soldiers as a way to suppress and to frighten the people of the occupied territories in South East Asia.

Was the statement by the Japanese Prime Minister a political one or was it the beginning of Japans’ acknowledgement of the human rights violations during World War II by Japanese military in South East Asia?

At that time, Netherlands citizens in the former Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) were subjected to organised terror by the military, including but not limited to enforced sex slavery and other forms of slavery, torture, intimidation, harsh disciplines, systematic starvation and denial of medicine. Many died. Of the surviving victims many suffered from incurable disorders. All cannot forget their ordeal and continue to live with traumas and other health problems.

Among the surviving victims some lost one or more relatives because they were beheaded by the Japanese Military. The pictures of the beheaded Japanese hostages that were posted by IS in January 2015 remind them of these cruel acts and reinforce their demands that Japan acknowledge their war crimes during World War II.

Between 1945 and 1951 Allied Military Court-Martials throughout the Far East condemned 920 Japanese military to death and sentenced some 3,000 others to prison terms. The accused had been found guilty of war crimes.

From 1946 to 1948 the International Military Tribunal of Tokyo tried and sentenced 25 “major” Japanese war criminals – TOJO and company – for plotting and waging the Pacific War. In Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) during 1946 – 1948 the Temporary Courts Martial tried 986 persons excluding minor war criminals. The Temporary Court Martial of Batavia tried 111 war criminal cases with 352 defendants. 64 received the death penalty.

Many cases were tried by the Batavia Court Martial including the well-known Semarang case: coercion into prostitution of Netherlands girls and women forcefully recruited by the Japanese military from concentration camps.

A substantial number of cases tried by the Batavia Court concern the way in which Japanese military commanders administrated a regime of terror and maltreatment in the POW and civilian camps. When the end of the war came in sight Tokyo Headquarters issued the order to kill all, leave no traces, to cover up the violations of human rights methodically carried out by the Japanese military.

Other cases concern the Kempeitai Java. Their prime objective was to enforce confessions from arrested suspects through systematic terror and torture and involved local people in the process. The Martial Court Batavia spent considerable time on the Kempeitai Bondowoso/Djember case. 18 members of the Kempeitai Djember were accused. 2 were acquitted, the others were declared guilty. 6 were condemned to the death penalty and the other 10 got long prison sentences.

The Djember Kempeitai investigated espionage and the preparation for a possible landing by Allied forces in East Java. They rounded up some 30 suspects, who were interrogated by the Kempeitai. At the same time the Kempeitai in Djember investigated alleged espionage by a number of planters (owners or employees of agricultural enterprises).

The results of both investigations were delivered to the Kempeitai headquarters and the headquarters of the 16th Japanese army, both in Batavia. Shortly thereafter the commanding officer of the Kempeitai in Djember received the order to execute them all.

The Kempeitai used the most horrendous methods of torture and intimidation to extract confessions. The Court concluded that the Kempeitai Djember was the worst of all the Kempeitai offices. In accordance with the The Hague convention of 1907 they violated the laws and customs of war and other internationally accepted conventions and routinely committed war crimes of the worst kind.

Members of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts demonstrate each second Tuesday of the month at the Japanese Embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands. During the demonstration the Board is received by the Ambassador handing over a petition, already 243 in number, addressed to the Prime Minister of Japan requesting acknowledgment of the plight of the Netherlands citizens from former Netherlands East Indies and seeking acceptance of the moral obligation of Japan to redress its past. The Prime Minister of Japan has up to now never responded to any of these petitions.

The present Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Shinzo Abe is well aware of the violations by the Imperial Army of Japan during World War II. He appears to want to cover these up by starting a public relations campaign in marking the end of World War II as “70 years since atomic bombings”, forgetting the Asian Holocaust the Japanese military caused in South East Asia.

In the February 2015 petition by the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts addressed to the Japanese Prime Minister we express our condolences for the barbaric beheading of the Japanese hostages by IS. At the same time we ask the Japanese Prime Minister not to forget the needs of those Netherlands survivors who suffer from the same traumatic memories as the families and friends of the Japanese beheaded hostages.

Japan continues to deny responsibility on the grounds that they were absolved by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. However violations of the 1907 The Hague Convention IV, respecting the Laws and customs of War on Land does not absolve Japan to admit guilt, apologize and pay compensation to the individual victims.

The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts on behalf of all the victims of Japanese military suppression and terror, requests the Human Rights Council, with reference to the recent statement by the Japanese Prime Minister regarding the beheading of Japanese hostages by Islamic State, to ensure that Japan accepts immediate responsibility for similar terrorist acts and violations of human rights during the occupation of South East Asia by the Japanese military and accepts that the 1907 The Hague convention was then and is still applicable.



Human Rights Council

Japan must remember its past

Human Rights Council

25th session, March 2014

Oral Statement

Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Oral statement

Mr President,

Japan must remember its past. It must honour the victims who survived the Japanese occupation of the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) during World War II.

The surviving victims, who are in their seventies and eighties now, were children then. As children they had to endure the evil of the Japanese military occupation. They know and painfully feel their past. They know how it was to endure hunger, maltreatment, enslavement and to be forced to see the humiliation of their mothers, sisters and brothers. They cannot forget the deliberate barbaric treatment they had to endure at the hands of the Japanese military and their agents. The traumatic experience of slave labour, no matter how young they were, is still with them. They know how it feels not knowing what happened to their fathers, who were kept in separate captivity.

Of the surviving victims many suffered from incurable disorders. All cannot forget their ordeal and continue to live with traumas and other health problems.

It cannot be a surprise to you that we do not respect and cannot forgive those who gave the orders to maltreat them and ultimately ordered to kill them all in order to hide the war crimes of the Japanese military.

The Japanese leaders of the war period lost all respect for humanity. The present leaders must accept that and must not try to rewrite history. There is not and there never will be honour in glorifying the Japanese military behaviour during World War II. It would be honourable for the present leaders of Japan to admit it and not to glorify the past.

Every year more of these victims, including Comfort Women, die of old age. This does not mean that their pain and their stories will be forgotten. It is up to the next generations to use their voices until the Japanese government listens and accepts the moral commitment stemming from art. 14 (a) of the San Francisco Peace treaty: “It is recognized that Japan should pay reparations for the damage and sufferings caused by it during the war.”

On behalf of all the surviving victims of Japanese military terror, children then, the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts demands acknowledgement from the Japanese authorities of the gross violations of human rights and seeks redress for the damage done to the individual victims still alive or their next of kin for those who passed away.


Haunting memories

Human Rights Council
Twenty-fourth session
Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Written statement* submitted by the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts, a non-governmental organization on the roster

The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.


The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts was established in 1990 with the purpose of looking after the interests of the Netherlands -Dutch- citizens who, during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), were victims of the Japanese military during World War II.

The Dutch citizens were interned in concentration camps, families were split and men, women and children put in separate camps. No communication was allowed, smuggling of messages was impossible; if caught it could cost your life, in the best case you were brutally tortured. Many men were transported overseas and forced to do slavery work on railroads (e.g. Birma railroad) the mines or do coolie work in harbours. War time conventions were violated despite acceptance of these conventions by Japan.

Those Dutch left outside the camps on racial grounds were terrorized and disallowed to work for a living.

All were subjected to organised terror by the military, including enforced sex slavery and other forms of slavery, torture, intimidation, harsh disciplines, systematic starvation and denial of medicine. Many died and the ones who survived cannot forget their ordeal. Many continue to live with traumas and other health problems.

Still now, more than 68 years after the end of this war people come forward with their personal stories, the memories that still haunt them

One of these stories is an eye witness report of a then 14 year old boy who had only just moved into Women’s Hospital camp Solo on the island of Java, together with his mother, his two older sisters of 15 and 18 and his younger brother of 10.

His story is about Japanese officers who, as announced several weeks beforehand, came to collect 30 Dutch girls from Camp Solo in 1943.

In his own words written down in 2013 at the age of 86:

Quote: “Led by a young female doctor, Dr. Engels, thirty girls had soiled themselves and some had inflicted small injuries to themselves, such as little wounds on their lips. These would fester and looked very unappealing. At the time, I didn’t really understand it. These girls looked terrible and reeked immensely. Hair was no longer cut and there was no more bathing. Dresses were torn and smeared. Rags were bound around legs and the girls were taught how to limp and squint.

Once in a while there was some giggling because of these smelly, dirty disguises, but in the hearts of the girls and their mothers there was great fear and grief because no one knew what the Japanese were planning. It was clear however that, once the Japanese had made their choice, those girls would have to go with them. Yes, working in a hospital, getting an education and all kinds of other promises were made, but behind the scenes there was silent grief and great uncertainty.

And so the day arrived. Several girls had fallen ill because of all the misery and fear. There was vomiting and crying.

In my thoughts I saw my sisters standing there. What would happen to them? No one knew.

There they were: Five senior Japanese officers, in full uniform with high hats, imperial samurai swords, gold stripes and shiny leather boots. There were they, on the steps of the hospital, our Camp building, in Solo. Everyone in the camp had to be present on the forecourt. About 1800 women and children were already waiting for an hour. It was dead

quiet. My little 10 year old brother was sitting on the ground playing with sand and stones. My mother cried softly.

First a long story in Japanese translated by a Javanese interpreter in Malay: the beloved, benevolent and divine Japanese emperor Hirohito was pleased that 30 girls from this Women’s Camp were allowed to study in Japan, or would be trained as nurses, and could then go to work in various hospitals.

[In reality, girls, once selected in this manner, were forced into prostitution in brothels run by the military, as ‘Comfort Women’ for the Japanese forces.]

A spacious place in front of the steps of the building was kept free for the girls. There they would stand in a long line. Somewhere else the girls must have been standing at the ready. But they didn’t show up.

And then this happened.

The Japanese officers became restless: First murmurings, then profanities. They were not used to this. Our camp director, Mrs. Smith, was called forward. It took a while. Doctor Engels, a female doctor and the only doctor in the Women’s Camp, the one that had ‘prepared’ the girls, walked along with Mrs. Smith, onto the steps of the terrace. When asked where the girls were, the camp director told the interpreter in Malay that the girls were too young and were needed in the Camp. Doctor Engels continued that the girls were sick and weakened because there was not enough food in the camp. She added that the girls could not leave because they had to take care of their sick mothers and the smaller children.

Doctor Engels immediately got a hard slap in the face from a Japanese officer. She almost fell to the ground and just managed to prevent the man from hitting her with his sheathed sword by grabbing the sacred Japanese sabre. This caused her and the samurai to topple over backwards onto the floor. We knew what this would mean. This was a deadly sin to the Japanese. A holy Samurai was not to be touched by anyone, most certainly not by a woman!

Then all the officers went mad. Doctor Engels was kicked till she bled and beaten up completely, until she stopped moving. She was then dragged away to the hallway behind the terrace. We heard her screaming in agony a few times, and then there was silence. I remember that Doctor Engels lived another few days, but then died from her injuries.

She had had the courage to say NO and then died for the sake of the lives of 30 Dutch camp girls. All women and children present on the forecourt flew in all directions in a panic, back to their rooms and to the barracks, in desperate fear of what could happen now.

The Japanese officers retreated and got in their cars and left without having seen the girls.

A second attempt to pick up the girls failed to materialize and why …… we do not know. Probably because soon the ‘Military Command’ of the women’s camps was transferred to a Japanese Citizen Authority or Board. As far as I know there was never any retaliation, except that we received no food that day and all of the about 200 boys aged 10 to 18 were taken to the Boys Camp 7 in Ambarawa 100 kilometers away in the week after the uprising.” End of quote.

Memories like these still haunt the victims of the Japanese concentration camps.

On behalf of these victims the board of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts continues to seek moral recognition and justice. The Japanese government, due to international pressure, will ultimately have to acknowledge that they have a moral duty towards the Dutch from the former Netherlands East Indies. The Japanese government claims that as a nation they “fight” for peace and justice, taking its responsibilities in the international bodies seriously, playing significant roles in human rights, conflict mediation and peace keeping forces. Before claiming this position however Japan must consider its past and rectify their wrongdoings.

The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts requests the Human Rights Council to ensure that at last, after 68 years, Japan recognizes the facts and settles the damage by compensating the victims.