Speech for August 15, 2000 : Day of "Peace in the Pacific”
Marius J. van Dijk van Nooten
The Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh, the Hononrable Sue Hammell, the Honourable Jenny Kwan, Miss Thekla Lit, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen;
Being a child survivor from the Second World War, it is not an easy task to talk about past experience. For three and a half years, I was a child prisoner and slave labourer of Imperial Japanese military concentration camps for boys in the former Dutch East Indies which is now Indonesia. I endured starving and severe beatings at the hands of the infamous Japanese secret police. I was forced to work in the hospital puncturing the bloated bodies of dead beri-beri patients, emptying spit cans of TB patients and helping to chisel away the gold from teeth of dead patients.
I was only 14 when I was released from the concentration camp after the unconditional surrender of the Japanese government on 15 August 1945. I have learnt the hard way the importance of global and regional peace.
The proclamation of today, the 55th anniversary of the end of Second World War in Asia as "Day of Peace in the Pacific” by the government of British Columbia is to remember with honour the contributions and sacrifices of those Canadians who served in the Second World War in Asia and to commemorate survivors and those who perished. As a survivor myself, I am grateful indeed. It is my sincere hope that August 15 as Peace in the Pacific day will be legislated into an annual event for all British Columbians
What I went through as a child slave of the Japanese Imperial Army will always be with me. Although 55 years has passed, for me and many other survivors, we are still waiting for an apology and compensation resolution to be passed by the Japanese parliament. For genuine reconciliation with survivors and people of victimized countries and for fostering long-lasting peace in the Pacific region, the Japanese parliament on behalf of the Japanese people should act now.