Sunday, June 17, 2012

Calling for an apology

Above is New York State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein's Message to Japanese Government for an Official Apology to the "Comfort Women," Filmed by the Korean American Voters' Council at the Holocaust and Comfort Women Survivors Calling for Justice Together event at the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center & Archives at Queensborugh Community College in Queens, New York on December 13, 2011. Mr. Braunstein represents Queens.

There have been multiple apologies by Japanese government officials to the Comfort Women. A private fund was established (ended in 2007) to offer atonement payments to some surviving comfort women. However, there has not been a Diet resolution nor a Cabinet Decision affirming that the apologies are official Japanese government policy and assuming responsibility. The apologies leave doubt; they are equivocal.

This is not the case for the American POWs of Japan. The apology was a Cabinet Decision and followed up by a government-funded program of visitation to Japan by former POWs.

There is, however, more to be done. The apology still  needs to be followed by efforts to research and preserve the history of the POWs of Japan. And it must include contributions by Japan's private sector that benefited by using POWs for slave labor.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Louis Zamperini on the Tonight Show

Sadly, NBC took down its links to Mr. Zamperini's appearance on the Tonight Show and blocked others from displaying the now-historic interview. [Update 7/13/14]

However, here see a better, longer piece by CBS Sunday Morning (produced by a high school classmate of mine) May 27, 2012.

 Louis Zamperini, the subject of the best-selling book Unbroken, was interviewed by Jay Leno on the Tonight Show Thursday, June 7, 2012. Zamperini talks about how he was tortured and experimented upon by the Japanese on a Pacific island after he was captured having survived 47 days on a life raft. He was eventually shipped to Japan for further torture and ended up as a slave laborer for Japanese corporations. He survived the infamous Ofuna Naval Interogation Center in Kamakura and was then shipped to two of Japan's most horrific prison camps near Tokyo: Omori where he slaved for Nippon Express and then Naoetsu where he labored for Shin-Etsu Chemical and Nippon Stainless (NSSC). These multi-national companies still exist with their same names.

Unbroken will be translated into 23 languages worldwide. Japanese is not one of the languages as no publisher in Japan has shown an interest in this bestseller.

Unbroken will be released as a movie sometime in 2013 by Universal and directed by Francis Lawrence.

Later: Here Mr. Zamperini is interviewed back stage at the Tonight Show and adds a bit more about his 1936 Olympics roommate, Jesse Owens.