|Ben Steele of Montana at Liberation
To Halt Hiroshima Visit Planning
Demand a Memorial for POWs in Japan
Makanda, Illinois, April 15, 2016/American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society/ -- Survivors of wartime Japan’s death camps and slave labor call on President Barack Obama to halt planning a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial until he breaks ground in Japan for a memorial to American and Allied POWs.
The leading American veterans’ organization for former prisoners of war of Imperial Japan, their families, and historians, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society (ADBC-MS), sent a letter to the President on April 14th asking him to forego a trip to Hiroshima until he “can first make an equally poignant memorialization of the Americans who perished in Japan.”
Specifically, they want the President to “break ground for a memorial to the American and Allied POWs at their port of entry and slavery into Japan, the dock at Moji on Kyushu.”
For a President’s visit to Hiroshima to be successful, they advise “it must include the acknowledgement of all the victims of the war in the Asia Pacific. Hiroshima symbolizes not only the destructiveness of mankind, but also what lengths we may need to go to end suffering and tyranny.”
The ADBC-MS is alarmed that “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration have been working since taking office to replace the established history of Japan’s abuses during the war with a denier’s view.” As a result, they believe the President’s “visit will not merely be unreciprocated; it will sanction the Abe Administration’s anti-historical efforts and abrogate your mission, which is to remind us all what we are capable of both good and bad.”
It is estimated that over 300,000 American and Allied POWs and civilian internees were held in inhumane conditions by Imperial Japan. Nearly half died in squalid POW camps, aboard fetid “hell ships,” or as slave laborers for Japanese corporations. Over 14,000 died on the “hell ships” to Japan. And more than 30, 000 Filipino soldiers with the U.S. Forces in the Far East died as POWs.
The letter concludes “War is about how it is remembered. We hope that you will respect the interests and memory of America’s Pacific War veterans.”
For more details, contact the ADBC-MS President, Ms. Jan Thompson.