CFCIR Letter to President Clinton
Center for Civilian Internee Rights (CFCIR)
Press Release 7 May 1997

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of our 47,000 POWs and civilian internees brutalized by the Japanese in WWII, I would like to ask your intervention in your upcoming meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

Japan committed terrible atrocities to American POWs and civilian internees and to many of its Asian neighbors during WWII. Unlike Germany, who has atoned by paying meaningful compensation and apologizing in an honest and sincere way, Japan continues to hide behind a wall of amnesia. This is just not right Mr. President and I think you know that as well. The Governments of Japan and the United States suppressed these atrocities from its citizens for so many years. Now that documents have been found on the basis of solid research and investigative reporting these facts are now known. I think it is high time the United States Government corrected this situation by intervening on behalf of American victims who have suffered and endured.

Our organization, along with our sister organizations of the Allied countries of WWII representing POWs and civilian internees, filed a claim for compensation and an official apology from the Japanese Government in the Tokyo District Court on January 30, 1995. The Japanese Government has been dragging their feet on reaching a settlement. This action was not initiated by a sense of anger, but rather as a measure of closure. Japan will gain more by settling our claim than will its victims. It will announce to the world that it is an honorable nation and faces its responsibilities. This just settlement will end the lingering suspicion of Japan that exists today.

Mr. President, there has been a dual standard in the treatment of Germany and Japan and for the atrocities they committed in WWII. This dual standard must end. Japan should be held responsible as Germany was held responsible by its victims from that terrible period of WWII history. This unresolved issue continues to drive a wedge between America and Japan. I believe now is the time to face its past transgressions in an honorable fashion. By doing so, I believe we will strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

We are pleased with the progress in the last six months by the United States Government in these matters. On December 3rd, the Department of Justice initiated the first Japanese War Criminals Watch List. We have been chasing Nazi war criminals for years. At a recent meeting we had with Justice Department officials, we handed over an additional 100 Japanese war criminal suspects. We will be turning over additional lists in the next few months. The United States Congress introduced a resolution last year that condemns Japan for its atrocities in WWII and called for Japan to settle our claim in the Japanese courts. A new House Resolution will be introduced shortly that again calls for Japan to honorably settle this claim and issue an unequivocable apology. Furthermore, this new resolution calls for Japan to provide for its other victims such as the comfort women and the victims of the Rape of Nanking. Mr. President this issue has not gone away in over 50 years and it is high time that the matter is brought to a head for all parties concerned.


Gilbert M. Hair
Executive Director (Santo Tomas internee)
Life Member AX-POW, ADBC, Inc., DAV, American Legion

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