International Citizens' Forum on War Crimes & Redress --

Seeking Reconciliation & Peace for the 21st Century


Press Release

December 11, 1999


The second day of the ICF, December 11th, started out with five workshops reviewing testimonies and reports by victims, lawyers and supporters in the morning:


·        Nanjing Massacre

·        Military Sexual Slavery & Sexual Violence against Women

·        Forced Labors / POW

·        Unit 731 / Germ & Chemical Warfare

·        Military Payment Certificate & Looted Cultural Properties


In the workshop on looted cultural properties, Professor Zhao Jianmin reported that his research showed that Japan had looted more than 2.7 million books during its  invasion of China.  After the war Japan only returned 158,873 of them.   On the same panel Japanese Attorney Masatoshi Uchida commented that although the responsibility of Japan to honor the military payment certificates is undeniable, Japan courts has up till now ruled against the plaintiffs.   


            These workshops were followed by two sessions on litigation and legislation issues in Japan, Korea and in the United States.  The panelists include lawmakers, attorneys, activists and scholars from Japan, the U.S., Hong Kong, Korea and Canada.


Japanese attorney Mr. Yoshitaka Takagi provides a review of a list of 37 redress lawsuits at various stages of court proceedings in Japan.  Despite the judges could not negate the fact of atrocities committed, only one out of the 37 cases won.  Nevertheless, Japanese corporations were advised by judges to make settlements out of court.  Judges also urged for  new legislations to be passed in Diet to resolve Japan courts difficulty with redress lawsuits.


On this same panel were the American lawyer Mr. Barry Fisher who pointed out: “Japanese industries, like their German counter-part, were unjustly enriched by using slave laborers.”  Chinese law professor Mr. Zhou Hong-Jun also brought to the attention of  ICF participants that the civil reparation laws of the People’s Republic of China has provision to allow individuals to sue for personal damages.


In the legislation session the panelists briefly reviewed a series of U.S. congressional resolutions and   bills that have been introduced since 1994.  Some did not pass, but several became laws in the United States permitting victims of World War II war crimes to file suits in U.S. federal district courts seeking compensation.  A recent one provides broad, but clear definitions of claims to be accepted in the United States courts.  It also stipulates an extension of the statue of limitation to January 1, 2010 for the qualified cases. There are as many as seventeen class-action lawsuits now filed against various Japanese companies in California.


California Assemblyman Mike Honda was among the panelists today.  AJR27 introduced by him was passed in August 1999 calling on the Japanese government to offer an unambiguous apology and adequate compensation to her wartime victims and urging the U.S. Congress to enact laws to support the victims.  Mr. Honda said: “It’s never too late to seek human dignity and justice.”  He explained his involvement in support of seeking apology and compensation for the victims from the Japanese government started from his personal and family experience of being interned by the U.S. government during WW II and later fighting and winning redress.


“I ask that the burden of the injustice be lifted from the lives of the survivors and the families of the dead.  Only the government of Japan can lift the burden and only the lifting of the burden can set them free,” Mr. Honda concluded, “The apology and reparations from the US government lifted the burden of the injustice -- it set the Japanese American community free.”


Present at the same panel with Mr Honda is Mr. Tatsuo Kage of Canada. “By achieving redress, Japanese Canadians has assumed a special responsibility for becoming active advocates for the victims of violation of their rights,” he said.





ICF is intended to help bring proper closure for the monstrous number of atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army in the first half of the 20th Century.  In Korea, Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, Indo-China, China, and the Pacific, they caused tens of millions of death, mostly civilians, and hundreds of billions dollars of property damages and losses.  To this date, the Japan government continues to reject all redress demands by victims.  The Diet voted down a resolution to issue a national apology to victims & victimized nations in 1995.  Postwar Japanese government intentionally fails to help the Japanese people, especially the younger generation, to know the truth and learn lessons of humanity from this dark chapter. 


Evidence shows that there is a rising tide of militaristic right wing elements in Japan society and within the government. Japan as a country has victimized the victims the second time by denying the truth, by denying victims the already delayed justice, by whitewashing the atrocities committed and by trying to justify Japan's war of aggression. 


ICF is the voice of the tens of millions of victims, crying out for justice and redress.  It is their wish that a better humanity can germinate under the nourishment of their blood and anguish.  It is their hope that reconciliation may be achieved between the perpetrator nation and the victimized nations in the new millennium.


Panel speakers at ICF (From right to left): Mr. Mike Honda, Attorney John Tsuchida and Mr. Tatsuo Kage