Canadian Conference on
Preventing Crimes Against Humanity:
Lessons from the Asia Pacific War (1931-1945)

March 21-22, 2003 University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

A Symposium in Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Preventing Crimes Against Humanity: Lessons from the Asia Pacific War (1931-1945)

Cinecenta Auditorium, Student Union Building
University of Victoria
Thursday, March 20 2003

12 noon - 6 pm



Kuniko Laskey: "The Atomic Bomb and Hiroshima: A Survivor’s Testimony"
E. Patricia Tsurumi: "Japanese Women's Movement Leaders and the Pacific War: Postwar Feminists Criticize their Foremothers"
Suh Sung: "The Asia Pacific War: Lessons for Today"
Chair: Gregory Blue (History, UVic)

2:00 - 2:30: Refreshments 2:30 - 4:00: BIOLOGICAL WARFARE: FORGETTING AND REMEMBERING

Stephen Endicott: "China during the Asia Pacific War (1931-1945)"
Martin Furmanski: "Biological Warfare in China and the US Cover-up"
John Price: "Conspiracy of Silence: Canada and Biological Warfare (1942-52)"
Chair: Paul Wood (Humanities Centre, UVic)

4:00 - 4:30: Refreshments

4:30 - 6:00: RACISM AND WAR Maryka Omatsu: "Racism in Wartime Canada _ Uprooting and internment of Japanese Canadians"
Wang Xuan: "Overcoming the Legacy of Hate: Justice for Chinese victims of Biological Warfare"
Chair: Joe Kess (Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives)

This symposium is sponsored by the Humanities Centre; the Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies; the Institute for Dispute Resolution; UVSS "Armed with Understanding" Lecture Series; the Departments of History, Pacific & Asian Studies, and Women’s Studies; the World History Caucus; Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG).

A two-day conference on the same theme will take place at UBC on March 21-22. For further information on the UBC conference visit the conference web site:


KINUKO LASKEY: Ms. Laskey was a 16 year old volunteer nurse at the Hiroshima Communications hospital when a U.S. bomber dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. Over 70,000 people were killed on impact, more than 90% of whom were civilians. Kinuko Laskey survived even though she was only 1.4 kilometres from the blast’s epicentre. An avid nuclear disarmament activist now living in Canada, Ms. Laskey continues to educate people about the terrible effects of the bomb.

E. PATRICIA TSURUMI: Professor emerita of History at the UVic, Dr. Tsurumi is also a Research Associate of the Institute of Asian Research at UBC, and member of the Centre for Japanese Research at UBC. She is author of Factory Girls: Women in the Thread Mills of Meiji Japan (Princeton University Press, 1990) which won the Canada Council's 1991 Canada-Japan Book Prize. Her previous writings won the International Cultural Association of Japan Prize for Foreign Scholars (1979), the Hilda Neatby Prize in Women's History (1988), and the Marion Porter Prize for Feminist Research (1989). Currently she is working on a book about the life and times of Yamakawa Kikue (1890_1980). So far "The Accidental Historian, Yamakawa Kikue," Gender & History 8.2 (1996) and "The State, Education and Two Generations of Women in Meiji Japan, 1868-1912," U.S.-Japan Women's Journal 18, (2000) have emerged from this project. In 1997, Tsurumi won the Victoria YWCA's Woman Of Distinction in Education award.

SUH SUNG: Prof. Suh spent 19 years in prison under repressive, U.S.-supported South Korean regimes. Amnesty International designated Suh a prisoner of conscience in 1973 after he was arrested on false charges of being part of a campus spy ring. The rise of the democracy movement in Korea led to Suh’s release in 1990 and he is now professor of comparative international law at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. He is one of Asia’s foremost campaigners for peace, an expert on Korean affairs and is currently co-convener of the International Symposium on Human Rights and Peace in East Asia.

STEPHEN ENDICOTT: Stephen Lyon Endicott was born in Shanghai, China of Canadian missionary parents. He was educated at the University of Toronto and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He taught in the history department of Atkinson College, York University for twenty years and is now a senior scholar in that department. He is the author of The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets of the Early Cold War and Korea, with Edward Hagerman. (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1999); Red Earth: Revolution in a Sichuan Village. (Toronto: NC Press, 1989); James G. Endicott: Rebel Out of China (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980); Diplomacy and Enterprise: British China Policy 1933_1937. (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1975)

MARTIN FURMANSKI: A pathologist and medical historian, Martin Furmanski (MD) has spend several years investigating the medical aspects of the Japanese Imperial Army’s biological warfare program in China during World War II. Working with the late Sheldon Harris (author of Factories of Death), Dr. Furmanski visited the “rotten leg” villages of Zhejiang province last year. He has recently investigated the reasons why the U.S. government granted immunity to Japanese scientists who engaged in human experimentation and torture and how this contributed to the rationale for ongoing biological warfare preparations in the United States.

JOHN PRICE: An associate professor of Japanese history at the University of Victoria, John Price is currently involved in a three-year SSHRC-sponsored research project examining “Canada and the Cold War in Asia (1945-1955)”. As part of this project, Prof. Price has examined the Canadian role in the Occupation of Japan (1945-1952) and has unearthed new evidence relating to Canada’s biological warfare program and its complicity in the cover-up of Unit 731's biological warfare during the Asia-Pacific War.

MARYKA OMATSU: Judge Omatsu is the author of the award-winning book, Bittersweet Passage: Redress and the Japanese Canadian Experience. She became Canada's first woman of Asian heritage to sit as a judge when she was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in February 1993. Presently, she presides over criminal trials in downtown Toronto. Before her appointment to the bench, Judge Omatsu was Chair of the Ontario Human Rights Board of Inquiry and an environmental lawyer representing Aboriginal peoples in provincial hydro and gas hearings. During the 1980's, she was counsel and a negotiator for the National Association of Japanese Canadians in their successful claim for compensation from the Canadian government for their internment, property confiscation and denial of civil rights.

WANG XUAN: Born in Shanghai in 1952, Wang Xuan went to Japan in 1987 where she completed her master’s degree in English at Tsukuba University. Since 1995 she has helped Japanese attorneys and scholars collect data regarding the tragic effects of the Japanese imperial army’s biological warfare conducted against villagers in China, including Zhejiang Province where her family is from. She has acted as a representative and spokesperson for 180 plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government for damages caused by biological warfare in China during the Asia-Pacific war.



Contact Information

Asia Pacific Lessons Conference
c/o International House
1783 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Tel: 604-822-4904
Fax: 604-822-5099