|Robert E. Thompson's POW Badge
November 25, 2013
Dear Mr. Vice President:
As you meet next week with members of Japan’s government to confirm the significance of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, I hope that you will share with them the importance of remembering those American veterans who became prisoners of war of the Imperial Japanese during World War II.
With the help of President Obama’s Administration one aspect of Japan’s reconciliation with American POWs began. In 2009, a Japanese government Cabinet-approved apology was offered and in 2010 a program of understanding and visitation to Japan was initiated for former POWs. This year it was expanded to include widows. The visitation program’s success should encourage Japan to do more: educating future generations in Japan and the U.S. on the POW experience in the Pacific and its lessons for war and peace needs to be the goal.
How Japan addresses its responsibilities toward the American POWs can be a model for Tokyo on how the historical reconciliation process can proceed. The American POWs ask for respect and that history to be not revised, but preserved. They want Japan’s great multi-national corporations to acknowledge their use of POW slave labor. They ask the United States Government to aid and preserve their experiences under Imperial Japan for future generations
We ask that you take a moment in your talks in Tokyo, to speak up for those veterans who defended America in the Philippines, Java, and Wake Island and how, as captives, endured the horrors of the Bataan Death March, the “Hell Ships,” enslavement on the Thai-Burma Railway, and the brutal conditions in slave labor camps in Japan.
We ask that the United States Government express its strong desire for Japan to establish a permanent fund for education, remembrance, and reconciliation. The goal is to: continue the POW visitation program for former POWs, widows and descendants; a program for research, documentation, education, and people-to-people exchanges and national memorials to the POWs who slaved and died on Japanese controlled soil or aboard the “Hell Ships.”
Ms. Jan Thompson
American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society
Daughter of PhM2 Robert E. Thompson USN, USS Canopus, Corregidor, Bilibid & Mukden