Dear Prime Minister,
..The contemptuous reply you have given to the victims' case ~ "that
it was all settled by the San Francisco Treaty" ~ seemingly reinforced
by your spokesman in Parliament last month, has shown your attitude
to Japanese atrocities to be as ill-briefed, as uncaring and as
racist as that of your predecessors.
..It was not "all settled" in San Francisco. .Shamefully, the British and American Governments decided to omit
from the Treaty all mention of war crimes, and instead chose to
consider "undue hardship" alone. .So the negotiators recognised the diversion of Red Cross food
parcels from the captives to their captors, the destruction of
prisoners' mail, and the theft of money sent (via Switzerland)
to buy better treatment for the sick, but forbore to consider
the wanton cruelty, slave labour, institutionalised sadism, medical
experiments, sexual abuse, torture and murder inflicted by the
Japanese on their prisoners of war and on the civilian internees.
..And unless, Prime Minister, you intend to classify as "undue hardship"
the horrors of castration and gang rape and starvation and unanaesthetised
vivisection and germ warfare and decapitation and evisceration
and bayonet drill and crucifixion and incineration and premature
burial practised by the Japanese army throughout the conquered
territories ~ then you must accept that the Treaty signed at San
Francisco did not settle the matter of compensation owed to those
who survived the atrocities.
..So you were ill-briefed. .But do you care? .The Emperor, we have been told, has studied the atrocities and
grieves for the victims. .Have you studied the atrocities, Prime Minister? .Do you know why Japanese soldiers smoked cigarettes while being
"comforted" by the sex slaves? .(It was to encourage the moaning and trembling to be as realistic
as possible.) .Do you know how a jeep can castrate a man? .Have you noted that in the battle they lost on one island, the
Japanese dead could be counted in thousands, the American dead
in hundreds, but (in accordance with the orders from Tokyo) the
shot and bayoneted Filipino civilians numbered over a hundred
thousand? Have you read Iris Chang's book (The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII) which relates also the medical experiments ("The fellow knew
it was over for him, and so he didn't struggle. .But when I picked up the scalpel, that's when he began screaming.
.I cut him open from the chest to the stomach, and he screamed
..When the Japanese army captured Alexandra Hospital, they bayoneted
the amputees as they lay in their beds; they bayoneted the patients
on the operating tables; they bayoneted the surgeons and anaesthetists;
but the orderlies they took outside, doused with petrol, and ignited
before bayoneting their writhing remains.
..These are not regrettable, isolated incidents untypical of the
Japanese army's normal behaviour. .They are just an infinitesimally small number of examples of a
bestial behaviour that between 1931 and 1945 killed 20 million
Chinese, 9 million Koreans, 4 million Indonesians, 2 million Vietnamese,
and a million Filipinos in a racist war aimed at conquest and
loot. .In Nanking German observers filmed and reported that the atrocities
included the raped women being nailed to walls, victims hanged
by iron hooks thrust through their tongues, children roasted alive
and eaten. The films still exist; the German diaries still exist;
the Japanese newspapers that reported the atrocities still exist;
but were you advised about them, Prime Minister?
..I receive a constant stream of letters with memories, horrific
memories. .Recently, on the same day, came two from the Philippines. .In one ~ "My older sister was beheaded (she had green eyes and thus had
to be American!) ..... whole families (childhood friends) had
their heads tied to a bamboo pole and driven on a jeep so every
one could view." .In the other ~ "....... my cousin who was tortured for helping the Americans. .The Japanese put a hose into his stomach and pumped water into
him until he had water and blood shooting out of every opening
of his body, from his anus, from his nose from his eyes. .They beat him severely, then hung him and then cut off his head. ........ another friend caught helping the Americans ....... the
Japanese tied his private parts to a jeep and dragged him until
his parts ripped away. .All his intestines were ripped out also. .These things were done in public so everyone would be afraid to
help the Americans."
.."Undue hardship", Prime Minister? .Or, as I heard the Japanese Deputy Ambassador explain to BBC TV
"the prisoners' problems and difficulties"?
Or war crimes? .Crimes against humanity? .Do you care? .British victims can tell you thousands of similar stories of what
they have witnessed, but the dead themselves are, of course, silent
and, it appears, forgotten by British Government.
..That your attitude is racist is best attested first by your approach
to Germany and the legacy of the terrible things done there. .You are not alone, of course. ."It would've been worse," one veteran wrote to me, "if they'd
been Germans. .I mean, the Germans are like us, aren't they?" .And in the few letters that tell us it is now time to forget the
past, we find the same sentiment repeated ~ "They're different
from us. .We shouldn't expect them to see things as we do!" .And thus you and the Foreign Secretary in your intention to lead,
with the United States, the quest for more compensation from Germany,
clearly demonstrate the racist attitude you have adopted towards
Japan. .Germany has sought to atone for the inhumanity some of its nationals
exhibited. .Its laws today punish the denial of the Holocaust. .The true history of Nazi Germany is taught in German schools.
.Postwar governments have paid over 88 billion DM in compensation
to the families of the victims. .But Japan ....... Japan continues to deny its atrocities. .In Japan's schools the history books are expurgated. .Japan refuses to pay compensation. .But that's okay, isn't it, Prime Minister, because, after all,
they're only Japs?
..And now, more recently, you have been much occupied by the Balkan
atrocities. .Terrible crimes have been committed there, not so terrible and,
indeed, minute in number compared to those of the Japanese, but
sufficiently terrible to justify your furious condemnation. ."This is in Europe!" you have told us. .And so it is. .And your determination to punish the guilty, your intention to
compensate their victims, while insisting that your own compatriots'
sufferings at the hands of non-Europeans be ignored on the fiction
of a Treaty that also ignored them, is racial discrimination.
..Well, what can you now do? .The few remaining POWs and civilian internees will die, one by
one, but the problem of your conscience will not disappear so
easily. And in your quest for meaningless "reconciliation" you
cannot attempt to extract a more candid apology from Japan. .The Japanese will not give one because it is alien to their ways;
no language on earth can compose an apology commensurate with
the enormity of the Japanese crimes; and their victims now recognise
that the apology factor and the complex debate about it will always
be exploited to divert discussion from the issue that matters
most ~ payment of compensation.
..But compensation can be paid, for if the Japanese will not honour
the obligation, the British Government, acknowledging the dishonourable
conduct of its predecessors, can do so instead. .Of course, no sum can truly compensate for the inhuman misery
and the surviving victims' long years of waiting, traumatised
mentally and physically, that followed, but whatever token should
be calculated, it must be very much greater than the $20,000 paid
by the American and Canadian governments to those of Japanese
origins relocated to live normal lives within North America during
the war. .There is no equivalence to be sought in the luxurious treatment
those Japanese received from western governments and the bestial
treatment inflicted on their forgotten captives by the Japanese
..Act now, Prime Minister, and show that you care. .Formally acknowledge that the San Francisco Treaty did not include
any consideration of the atrocities, the war crimes, the crimes
against humanity, of which the whole world knows Japan to have
Maria G. Lissone