I am a member of the JCCA (Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association of Greater Vancouver) Board, and of the JCCA Human Rights Committee. I would like to welcome all the delegates, the victim representatives, Japanese legal experts involved in the lawsuit against the government of Japan, and other important delegate participants.
I am also acknowledging co-sponsors for this project - the August 15, 1945 Foundation (Dutch), the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Korean Women's Association, and the Philippine War Veterans.
I realize that Dr. Ogawa had to leave for Japan early this morning, and I especially regret the absence of Mr. Yoshio Shinozuka and Mr. Shiro Azuma. I apologize as a Canadian, that our government could not allow their entry to Canada, or recognize their courage and value as advocates for speaking truth, their leadership as human rights and peace activists, and their remarkable offering of self-disclosure regarding their role within the Japanese military.
Some information about the JCCA Human Rights Committee and the Japanese Canadian Redress Movement:
Our JCCA Human Rights Committee was established following the achievement of the Japanese Canadian redress. The Redress Movement was active during the l970's and l980's and worked to seek justice and compensation for our community's losses during the wartime internment. In l988 the Redress Movement achieved its goal - the Canadian government apologized and compensated all Japanese Canadians born before April, l949, with 2l,000 dollars each. This goal would not have been achieved without the strong support, work and commitment of other community groups. Redress was our community's human rights exercise and from it, many of us became sensitized as activists for the human rights issues of other communities.
Our JCCA Human Rights Committee has worked with the British Columbia ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of World War II in Asia) over the last 2 years and has had opportunity to grow and learn in the process. It has been enlightening and educational working with ALPHA; Thekla Lit, Joseph Tong, Lawrence Chan, Paul Yuen and other ALPHA members, and supporting their search for justice for the victims of Japanese militarism. We genuinely appreciate this experience.
Some words for the Delegates:
As demonstrated by Dr. Ogawa, Mr. Shinozuka, and Mr. Azuma, delegates who are here with the Unit 73l display also show remarkable courage and strength. You are invaluable as speakers of and presenters of truth. You are leaders in human rights and peace activism. You show that working together with absolute courage and commitment will achieve your end, which is apology and compensation by the Japanese government for victims of Japanese military atrocities. You demonstrate by your example, that rather than bringing shame, there is courage, strength and growth, and most of all, ultimate humanity in coming to terms with the truth and in coming forth and demonstrating honesty, compassion and responsibility.
It is inspiring to be in your presence - to witness your strength and human capability to persevere together - both victim groups and Japanese activists, toward overcoming the destruction and horror of the past, and to together, work towards a just resolution for victims.
Thank-you and welcome to Vancouver on behalf of the JCCA and the JCCA Human Rights Committee. We are honored by your presence and wish you well in your ongoing important work on behalf of victims, in your campaign for recognition, apology and compensation by the Japanese government, and in your tremendously significant role as teachers of humanity. Thank-you.