News Release - September 2, 1997

Six Ethnic Communities respond to Japanese Supreme Court Ruling

Vancouver, September 2, 1997....Six ethnic communities representing more than 10,000 Canadians who signed letters in support of Professor Saburo Ienaga's lawsuit against the Japanese Education Ministry for censoring accounts of WWII atrocities in Japanese history textbooks are greatly encouraged by the Japanese Supreme Court ruling of August 29, 1997.

In one of his textbooks Professor Ienaga had referred to the Japanese Imperial Army germ warfare group, Unit 731, which conducted atrocious biological experiments on 3,000 people in northern China during WWII. Subjects were operated on without anaesthetics, injected with diseases and left to die without treatment. But this reference to historical events was removed on the order of the Japanese Education Ministry.

Following a 32 year battle Japan's Supreme Court sided with Professor Ienaga, ruling that the government acted illegally when it removed reference to biological warfare experiments from a proposed history textbook.

"We commend Professor Ienaga for his unflinching determination to fight long and deep seated intransigence by the Japanese government in acknowledging Japan's crimes against humanity during WWII," stated Ms. Thekla Lit, co-chair of ALPHA Canada. "The Japanese government has repeatedly attempted to cover up WWII atrocities through its textbook screening system, censoring or tampering with historical facts in textbooks which keeps generations of Japanese from learning the lessons from history to prevent recurrence of similar tragedies."

"The strong support from international groups, including our organizations which represent 6 ethnic communities, is appreciated by truth seeking forces in Japan. But there is much work still to be done," stated Mr. Erwin Nest of Canadian Jewish Congress. "The landmark court ruling finally gives due justice to an honest and truth seeking Japanese scholar but Professor Ienaga's victory is by no means total. The Japan Supreme Court's ruling only narrowly applies to the Professor's specific account on the Unit 731 atrocities in the history textbook. It fell short of declaring the act of screening textbooks unconstitutional."

The Japanese government will still have the power to distort historical facts. To date, Japan has repeatedly refused to offer official apologies and compensations to her war victims, including victims of the Nanking Massacre, military sexual slavery (so called comfort women), forced slavery, Bataan Death March and other atrocities.

"Until these war crimes are addressed and redressed, peace loving people the world over must work with their counterparts in Japan to bring the Japanese government face to face with history." Mr. Enomoto, president of National Association of Japanese Canadians affirmed.


List of six participating agencies:

Canada Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA)

National Association of Japanese Canadians, Human Rights Committee

Philippine War Veterans & Ex-Servicemen Society of BC

Korean Women's Association of Western Canada

August 15, 1945 Foundation

Canadian Jewish Congress