The Very Honorable Ryutaro Hashimoto, Prime Minister of Japan
c/o Mr. Shuji Shimokoji, Consul-General of Japan
Consulate General of Japan
900-1177 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6E 2K9
November 20, 1997
Dear Prime Minister Hashimoto,
We would like to extend our welcome to you to Vancouver, BC. We are from different ethnic groups in Canada and we are taking this opportunity to communicate to you our concerns about some legacies of the war in the Pacific a half - century ago; concerns which we believe many Canadians, especially those of Asia Pacific background, would share with us.
Nine years ago, without any court process or public hearings, the Canadian government redressed Japanese Canadians for unjust treatment during World War II - their forced removal, incarceration and loss of property. The Redress Agreement provided both acknowledgment of injustices perpetrated by the Canadian government, and compensation to the victims.
We respectfully suggest that with courage and insight the Japanese government could act in a similar way towards victims of Japanese military actions in Asia in the 1930's and 1940's, for the sake of both those directly affected and of future generations, being mindful of the growing world-wide awareness of human rights issues among all peoples, and also of the basic human truth that people do not forget extreme injustices inflicted on them. These memories last through many generations, negatively affecting relationships between countries and their citizens unless steps for reconciliation, sincere apology and redress are taken.
We understand that there have been several civil suits against the government of Japan filed at the Tokyo District Court by war victims including those of the Nanjing Massacre and the bacteriological experiments conducted by Unit 731. Justice delayed is justice denied to these victims. We believe that it is unnecessary for the government of Japan to wait for court rulings before acting in these matters. We urge your government to acknowledge injustices done to these victims and to offer compensation.
A related matter, as widely reported, is the final verdict of the Supreme Court in Tokyo on August 29, l997, with respect to the history school textbook lawsuit which Professor Saburo Ienaga initiated 32 years ago. Even though the Supreme Court did not declare that the screening system itself is unconstitutional, it ruled that in a number of issues the Ministry of Education made serious mistakes by making illegal decisions in the history school textbook screening process.
As long as the system remains we believe that there is a danger of illegal screening practices being repeated. We would like to know how your government will ensure that the Ministry does not continue to make similar mistakes in future if the screening system is still in place.
We look forward to hearing a response from your government to the concerns expressed in this letter.
Randy Enomoto, President, National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC)
Thekla Lit, Co-chair, Canada Association for Learning & Preserving the History of World War II in Asia (ALPHA)
Erwin Nest, Executive Director of Pacific Region, Canadian Jewish Congress
Jeannie Pak, Vice-President, Korean Women's Association of Western Canada
c.c. Professor Saburo Ienaga
c/o National League for Support of the School Textbook Screening Suit
Mr. Hiroshi Oyama, Lawyer
c/o The Society to Support the Demands of Chinese War Victims