Friday, October 19, 2012

Just Compensation

Secretary of State Clinton at the
American Cemetery in Manila
honoring the fallen of World War II
November 2009
The letter below appeared online in the Japan Times the same day the 3rd delegation of American POWs of Japan  met with the Japan's Foreign Minister Gemba and received their personal apologies for the torture and abuse they endured during WWII. Japanese-language publications had refused to print Dr. Tenney's reflections.

Remembrance is 'compensation'


Past National Commander, American Defenders of Bataan And Corregider
Carlsbad, California
Japan Times, October 14, 2012

This week, seven former American POWs of the Japanese will travel to Japan and revisit former campsites where they were held during World War II. Some of them will also visit the companies for whom they were forced to work. Although their memories of Japan from 68 years ago are still painful, they know that they will be welcomed by today's Japanese citizens and that they will enjoy a beautiful autumn in Japan.

For the third straight year, the Foreign Ministry is inviting former American POWs to Japan under the "Japanese/American POW Friendship Program."

In 2009, Japan's Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki traveled to Texas to attend the last convention of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (a national organization of former POWs of the Japanese), of which I was the last National Commander. He stood before the surviving POWs and their families and apologized for Imperial Japan's abuse of POWs.

The following year, Ambassador Fujisaki and Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell worked together to have six former POWs, including myself, invited to Japan, where Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada directly delivered Japan's formal apology to us. In 2011, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba graciously repeated the same apology to that year's POW delegation.

These sincere apologies played a vital role in our regaining the dignity once taken from us. Official Japan reached out to us POWs with respect and the invitation program has been so successful in bringing former POWs and today's Japanese citizens closer.

Today, I feel assured that our wartime experience will be remembered by the Japanese people through this invitation program, which I hope will continue not only for former POWs but also for their widows and descendants in years to come.

I have been hearing that so-called comfort women are still waiting for the Japanese government to offer them a sincere apology. I hope they will receive it soon. As someone who also had freedom, health and dignity taken away, I know how much a genuine apology like the ones we received will mean to them.

Most important, Japan needs to demonstrate its sincerity by remembering all its histories as a proud nation. To be remembered is our "compensation."

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