ALPHA Home

OPEN LETTER to the Japanese Emperor and Empress issued by multi-ethnic organizations  in Canada

At the press conference held on July 9, 2009, representatives of groups of Canadians that make up the rich diversity of this country:  Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and European extended their warm welcome to the Japanese Emperor and Empress’s visit to Canada.  At the same time, they issued an open open to appeal to the Emperor for his continued efforts to bring healing and justice to the victims of atrocities committed by Japan before and during the Asia-Pacific War, and for his support of the endeavours to keep Article 9 intact in the spirit of peace. 

 

The press conference was attended by the following media: Canadian Press/All Media Group/Metro Vancouver/CTV/CBC French/CBC News (Radio)/City TV/Vancouver Korean Press/Omni TV/Vancouver Shinpo/Media Q/Slangan Philippines News & Views/Sing Tao Daily/Fairchild TV/World Journal Daily/Global Chinese Press/CHMB AM1320

 


 

Open letter to Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan

 

Their Imperial Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan

c/o Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver

800-1177 West Hastings Street

Vancouver, BC

V6E 2K9

 

By Fax: 604-687-2236

 

July 9, 2009

 

Your Imperial Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan,

 

We are writing to you as some representatives of groups of Canadians that make up the rich diversity of this country:  Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and European.  We hope you enjoyed your visit to Eastern Canada, and we would like to extend you our warm welcome to Vancouver, Canada’s gateway to the Asia-Pacific region. 

 

With so many immigrants from all parts of Asia, we believe that Canada is an ideal place from which to promote peace and understanding among the Asia-Pacific nations.  For example, Japanese-Canadians, along with people from other cultural heritages, have been working to raise awareness of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.  Here in Vancouver, one of the first Article 9 groups outside of Japan raised funds to send Canadian delegates to the world’s first Global Article 9 Conference held in Chiba, Japan.

 

As Canadians with Asian connections, we also work together to heal the wounds of Japanese aggressions in the Asia-Pacific region before and during the Second World War, and to learn from the history of devastating wars to create a peaceful future together.  For example, every year a group of Canadian educators travels to China and Korea to learn about the history of the Asia Pacific War (1931-1945), including the Nanjing Massacre and Japan’s military sex slavery system.  A group of Canadian students also travels to Japan every summer to learn about the history of atomic-bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and these educators and students share their learning with the wider community when they return.  Our aim is never to foster bitterness toward a specific country or group of people; instead, our goal is to create an environment for open-minded learning that transcends national borders and cultural differences.

 

 

While our educational activities have been well-received among communities in Canada, Asia and beyond, we have witnessed many non-reconciliatory responses from Japan to the global community’s efforts to help bring healing and justice to the war crime victims of this tragic chapter of history.  The Japanese Parliament has yet to pass a resolution that fully admits and apologizes for Japan’s responsibility for the loss and suffering of the victims of the Asia-Pacific War, or to pass laws that stipulate compensation to those victims.

 

Canada is among the nations that are concerned with these issues.  On November 28, 2007 the Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion urging the Japanese government to take full responsibility for the involvement of the Japanese Imperial Forces in the system of forced "comfort women”, to offer a formal and sincere apology to these women, and to continue to address those who are affected in the spirit of reconciliation.  Although Canada as a nation has not been perfect in addressing its own past wrongdoings, one of Canada’s achievements in this regard has been the compensation of Canadians of Japanese ancestry who were interned during the Asia-Pacific War.  We would also like to see such redress offered Japanese government to the Canadian POWs captured in the Battle of Hong Kong and to the victims of China, Korea, the Philippines, and all the other countries and regions where Japan’s military committed war crimes.  We would also like to see Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution remain as it is, as we and many people in Asia see Article 9 as Japan’s pledge to the world never again to engage in wars of aggression.

 

 

Your Imperial Majesties, we are aware and appreciative of how much you have demonstrated a commitment to peace and history issues.  For example, your paying tribute to the Korean victims’ monument when you visited Saipan in 2005 was considered a gesture of reconciliation.  When you visited China in 1992, you also expressed regret for the suffering that Japan brought to China during the Asia-Pacific War.  Your words were a positive step toward healing a historical wound.  Your 1993 visit to the Okinawa sites where tens of thousands of civilians died in the war was also appreciated by many people throughout Japan and beyond.  We would like to appeal for your continued efforts to help bring healing and justice to the victims of atrocities committed by Japan before and during the Asia-Pacific War, and for your support of the endeavours to keep Article 9 intact in the spirit of peace.

 

Thank you for your attention to our letter, and again, we would like to sincerely welcome you to Canada’s West Coast.  We hope you will enjoy the beautiful sunshine, ocean and mountains of our land, and the rich and dynamic communities of our multicultural society.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

(Signed by the following organizations)

 

Thekla Lit

Co-chair, Canada ALPHA (Association for Learning & Preserving the History of

WWII in Asia)

 

Satoko Norimatsu

Founding Director, Peace Philosophy Centre

 

Ellen Woodsworth

President, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Vancouver

 

Tatsuo Kage

Member, Human Rights Committee of Japanese Canadian Citizens Association

 

Fernando P. Salanga

President, Philippine War Veterans & Ex-servicemen Society of BC

 

Jane Ordinario

Chairperson, Migrante-BC

 

Beth Dollaga

Chair, Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights

 

Kevin Sung,

Director, Korean Drama Club Hanuree

 


 

致日本國皇與皇后公開信中譯本

 

200979

 

日本國皇與皇后閣下:

   

我們是加拿大日裔﹑華裔﹑韓裔﹑菲律賓裔及歐洲裔的民間團體代表。願您們加東的行程愉快﹐並歡迎您們前來訪問溫哥華,這個連接亞太和加拿大的橋梁城市。

 

在這裡,大批來自亞洲不同國家的移民共同生活在這片國土上,大家彼此融洽相處,因此我們深信,加拿大是促進亞太國家之間相互理解及和平共處的理想地方。例如日裔加拿大人聯同其他族裔團體早已致力提高加拿大人對日本憲法第九條的關注。(第九條的內容指明日本永遠放棄發動戰爭、不以武力解決國際間之爭端、不維持陸海空軍及其他戰争力量)我們在本地建立了日本海外第一個關注日本和平憲法的團體。致力宣傳和保護日本憲法第九條。也曾籌集資金資助加拿大代表參加去年於日本千葉召開的全球保護憲法第九條大會。

 

作為與亞洲有深厚淵源的加拿大人,我們共同努力,希望能撫平日本發動的太平洋戰爭期間所造成的歷史傷口,並從毀滅性戰爭吸取歷史教訓,一起開創和平的未來。每年夏天,一些加拿大教師會前往中國和韓國訪問學習關於太平洋戰爭(1931-1945)的史實--比如南京大屠殺和日本從軍性奴隸制度等。一些加拿大學生也會在每年夏天訪問長崎和廣島市,學習關於原爆的歷史。這些加拿大學生和老師返回加拿大後都會將他們的經歷與本地社區人士分享。我們這些努力絕非針對某一國家或群體﹐相反,我們希望有助於剔除偏見﹐以開放的態度學習此段歷史﹐從而跨越國界及文化之差異。

 

上述教育活動得到本地與亞太及其他地區的普遍肯定,但國際社會為撫平戰爭歷史傷口﹑為戰爭暴行受害人爭取公義的努力﹐卻碰到不少來自日本國內不利於和解的回應。日本國會至今尚未通過承認戰爭責任並道歉的決議,也沒有通過向受害者提供賠償的法案。

 

包括加拿大在內的很多國家都對日本的上述態度表示關注。20071128日,加拿大國會下議院全票通過了敦促日本政府承認日本皇軍強征從軍性奴隸的責任,敦促日本政府向受害者作正式及真誠的道歉,並以達至和解的精神處理她們的訴求。儘管加拿大在歷史上也曾犯下錯誤,例如在二戰期間日裔加拿大人遭到了不公平的隔離和驅逐,但值得肯定的是加拿大政府已向受害者致歉並作出賠償。我們希望日本政府也能像加國政府一樣,對香港保衛戰中被俘及受虐待的加拿大軍人﹐對日本二戰暴行中的中國﹑韓國﹑菲律賓及其他有關地區的受害者真誠致歉並作賠償。我們期望日本保留憲法第九條,因為我們和很多亞洲人視日本憲法第九條為日本永不再發動侵略戰爭的承諾。

    我們留意到日皇閣下曾表示過對和平的嚮往和對歷史的反省,我們對此表示欣慰。我們留意到您在2005年訪問塞班島時曾在當地的韓裔受害者紀念碑前致以哀悼;我們也留意到1992年您訪問中國時曾就日本在侵華戰爭中造成的傷害表示遺憾;您的上述話語對撫平戰爭所造成的歷史傷口是邁出正面的一步。您於1993年到訪沖繩戰役中數以萬計平民枉死遺址的舉動也被許多日本國內外人士稱許。我們籲請閣下繼續努力,協助日本二戰暴行受害人早日討回歷史公道﹐使他們的歷史傷痕早日得到愈合,並籲請閣下本著維護和平的精神﹐支持維護日本憲法第九條的完整無缺。

 

    相信閣下已明白我們的訴求。在此我們再次歡迎您們的來訪。希望您們喜歡卑詩省美麗的陽光﹑大海與山巒,以及我們這個豐富又充滿活力的多元文化社會。

 

 

聯署團體﹕

 

列國遠

加拿大二戰浩劫史實維護會共同主席

 

乘松聰子 (Satoko Norimatsu)

和平哲學中心創會理事

 

鹿毛達雄

日裔加人協會人權委員會成員

 

伍愛鄰 (Ellen Woodsworth)

婦女爭取和平與自由國際聯盟溫哥華會長

 

Fernando B. Salanga

菲律賓退伍及退役軍人協會加西會長

 

Jane Ordinario

卑詩省菲律賓移民協會 (Migrante-BC) 主席

 

Kevin Sung

韓裔 Hanuree 劇社理事

 

Beth Dollaga

菲律賓裔加人人權團結委員會主席


 

Some related reference materials

 

 

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is a clause in the National Constitution of Japan that prohibits an act of war by the state. The Constitution came into effect on May 3, 1947, immediately following World War II.  

The official English translation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution reads:

“ ARTICLE 9.  Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.


Japanese war crimes occurred during the period of Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945) have also been described as an Asian Holocaust  These war crimes include:-

          Mass killings

          Human experimentation and biological warfare

          Use of chemical weapons

          Preventable famine

          Torture of POWs

          Cannibalism

          Slaved labor

          Military sexual slavery system

          Looting

The Asian Holocaust is often compared to the Nazi Holocaust   The historian Chalmers Johnson, president and co-founder of the Japan Policy Research Institute, an organization promoting public education about Japan and Asia, has written that:

It may be pointless to try to establish which World War Two Axis aggressor, Germany or Japan, was the more brutal to the peoples it victimised. The Germans killed six million Jews and 20 million Russians [i.e. Soviet citizens]; the Japanese slaughtered as many as 30 million Filipinos, Malays, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians and Burmese, at least 23 million of them ethnic Chinese. Both nations looted the countries they conquered on a monumental scale, though Japan plundered more, over a longer period, than the Nazis. Both conquerors enslaved millions and exploited them as forced labourers—and, in the case of the Japanese, as [forced] prostitutes for front-line troops. If you were a Nazi prisoner of war from Britain, America, Australia, New Zealand or Canada (but not Russia) you faced a 4% chance of not surviving the war; [by comparison] the death rate for Allied POWs held by the Japanese was nearly 30%. (Chalmers Johnson, Looting of Asia, 2003)

 


Press Conference

 

WHAT:           Press Conference regarding an OPEN LETTER to the Japanese Emperor and Empress issued by multi-ethnic organizations  

 

WHEN:          July 9, 2009 (Thursday) at 10:30 am

 

WHERE:       Ovans Room, G/F, BC Teachers’ Federation Building, 550 – West 6th Avenue, Vancouver

 

 

AGENDA:

1.   Introduction of representatives of the signatory organizations

          Thekla Lit, Co-chair of Canada ALPHA (Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII in Asia)

          Satoko Norimatsu, Founding Director of Peace Philosophy Centre

          Tatsuo Kage, Member of Human Rights Committee, Japanese Canadian Citizens Association

          Dr. Marlene LeGates, Acting President of Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Vancouver

          Fernando P. Salanga, President of Philippine War Veterans & Ex-servicemen Society of BC

          Florchita Bautista, Committee Member of Migrante-BC & Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights

          Kevin Sung, Director of Korean Drama Club Hanuree

2.      Reading the Open Letter by Satoko Norimatsu

3.      Remarks by individual representatives

4.      Question from the media

 

MEDIA CONTACT PERSONS:    Thekla Lit (604-313-6000) or

Satoko Norimatsu (604-619-5627)

 

BACKGROUNDER:

Representatives of groups of Canadians that make up the rich diversity of this country:  Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and European extend their warm welcome to the Japanese Emperor and Empress’s visit to Canada.  At the same time, they appeal to the Emperor for his continued efforts to bring healing and justice to the victims of atrocities committed by Japan before and during the Asia-Pacific War, and for his support of the endeavours to keep Article 9 intact in the spirit of peace.