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Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Open Letter to the Emperor and Empress and Press Conference

On July 9, 2009, 8 organizations in Vancouver (those dedicated to peace causes and those representing some Asian-Canadian groups), including Peace Philosophy Centre, presented an Open Letter to the Japanese Emperor and Empress who are currently visiting Canada. Their visit to Vancouver is from July 12 to 14. The letter asks the Imperial couple for their support for our endeavours to keep Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and to help bring healing and justice to the victims of the Asia-Pacific War. A press conference was successfully held at the BCTF building in Vancouver, attended by 16 media. See at the end of this post for the full text of the Open Letter.

Kyodo News Agency reported the event immediately and the news was run in newspapers across Japan.

See here for the full text of the Kyodo news in Japanese and an English translation.

My friend and peacemaker Eiji Yoshikawa in Japan reported the event on his website, with photos.

The press conference was attended by the following media: Canadian Press/All Media Group/Metro Vancouver/CTV/CBC French/CBC News (Radio)/City TV/Vancouver Korean Press/Omni TV/Vancouver Shinpo/Media Q/Slangan Philippines News & Views/Sing Tao Daily/Fairchild TV/World Journal Daily/Global Chinese Press/CHMB AM1320

Here are links to the CBC , OmniTV and ALL TV news.

Here is my clarification that we did NOT ask the Emperor to apologize.
私たちはこの公開書簡で明仁天皇に謝罪を求めてはいません。一部の報道でそのような印象を与えていますが、それは間違っています。この書簡は天皇の平和への尽力を支持し応援するためのものです。説明および、書簡の本文(英語)をお読みくださればわかります。

Here is ALPHA's summary of media reports, with a link to the photo album.

Here is Tatsuo Kage's article in the August Edition of JCCA the Bulletin/Geppo with a detailed summary of the letter in Japanese. 日本語による報告、書簡の要約はこちらをどうぞ。

Below is full text of the Open Letter. (The only official letter is the one in English. There is Chinese translation, but there is no Japanese translation. この公開書簡はカナダの公用語である英語によるものだけを提出しました。中国語訳はありますが、日本語訳はありません。日本語訳が自主的にされている場合がありますが、公式なものではありません)

******************************************************
Their Imperial Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan
c/o Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver
800-1177 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
V6E 2K9

By Fax: 604-687-2236

July 9, 2009

Your Imperial Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan,

We are writing to you as some representatives of groups of Canadians that make up the rich diversity of this country: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and European. We hope you enjoyed your visit to Eastern Canada, and we would like to extend you our warm welcome to Vancouver, Canada’s gateway to the Asia-Pacific region.

With so many immigrants from all parts of Asia, we believe that Canada is an ideal place from which to promote peace and understanding among the Asia-Pacific nations. For example, Japanese-Canadians, along with people from other cultural heritages, have been working to raise awareness of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. Here in Vancouver, one of the first Article 9 groups outside of Japan raised funds to send Canadian delegates to the world’s first Global Article 9 Conference held in Chiba, Japan.

As Canadians with Asian connections, we also work together to heal the wounds of Japanese aggressions in the Asia-Pacific region before and during the Second World War, and to learn from the history of devastating wars to create a peaceful future together. For example, every year a group of Canadian educators travels to China and Korea to learn about the history of the Asia Pacific War (1931-1945), including the Nanjing Massacre and Japan’s military sex slavery system. A group of Canadian students also travels to Japan every summer to learn about the history of atomic-bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and these educators and students share their learning with the wider community when they return. Our aim is never to foster bitterness toward a specific country or group of people; instead, our goal is to create an environment for open-minded learning that transcends national borders and cultural differences.

While our educational activities have been well-received among communities in Canada, Asia and beyond, we have witnessed many non-reconciliatory responses from Japan to the global community’s efforts to help bring healing and justice to the war crime victims of this tragic chapter of history. The Japanese Parliament has yet to pass a resolution that fully admits and apologizes for Japan’s responsibility for the loss and suffering of the victims of the Asia-Pacific War, or to pass laws that stipulate compensation to those victims.

Canada is among the nations that are concerned with these issues. On November 28, 2007 the Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion urging the Japanese government to take full responsibility for the involvement of the Japanese Imperial Forces in the system of forced "comfort women”, to offer a formal and sincere apology to these women, and to continue to address those who are affected in the spirit of reconciliation. Although Canada as a nation has not been perfect in addressing its own past wrongdoings, one of Canada’s achievements in this regard has been the compensation of Canadians of Japanese ancestry who were interned during the Asia-Pacific War. We would also like to see such redress offered Japanese government to the Canadian POWs captured in the Battle of Hong Kong and to the victims of China, Korea, the Philippines, and all the other countries and regions where Japan’s military committed war crimes. We would also like to see Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution remain as it is, as we and many people in Asia see Article 9 as Japan’s pledge to the world never again to engage in wars of aggression.

Your Imperial Majesties, we are aware and appreciative of how much you have demonstrated a commitment to peace and history issues. For example, your paying tribute to the Korean victims’ monument when you visited Saipan in 2005 was considered a gesture of reconciliation. When you visited China in 1992, you also expressed regret for the suffering that Japan brought to China during the Asia-Pacific War. Your words were a positive step toward healing a historical wound. Your 1993 visit to the Okinawa sites where tens of thousands of civilians died in the war was also appreciated by many people throughout Japan and beyond. We would like to appeal for your continued efforts to help bring healing and justice to the victims of atrocities committed by Japan before and during the Asia-Pacific War, and for your for support of the endeavours to keep Article 9 intact in the spirit of peace.

Thank you for your attention to our letter, and again, we would like to sincerely welcome you to Canada’s West Coast. We hope you will enjoy the beautiful sunshine, ocean and mountains of our land, and the rich and dynamic communities of our multicultural society.

Yours faithfully,

(Signed by the following organizations)

Thekla Lit
Co-chair, Canada ALPHA (Association for Learning & Preserving the History of
WWII in Asia)

Satoko Norimatsu
Founding Director, Peace Philosophy Centre


Tatsuo Kage
Member, Human Rights Committee of Japanese Canadian Citizens Association


Ellen Woodsworth
President, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Vancouver


Fernando P. Salanga
President, Philippine War Veterans & Ex-servicemen Society of BC


Jane Ordinario
Chairperson, Migrante-BC


Beth Dollaga
Chair, Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights


Kevin Sung,
Director, Korean Drama Club Hanuree

****************************************************

I am happy that our letter got a lot of attention from the local and international media. I hope it will reach the hands of the Emperor and the Empress.

Satoko

13 comments:

  1. Japanese who lived in Van10:59 am

    >The Japanese Parliament has yet to pass a resolution that fully admits and apologizes for Japan’s responsibility for the loss and suffering of the victims of the Asia-Pacific War, or to pass laws that stipulate compensation to those victims.

    I think they have done so many times already.... Look at the articles how Japanese government compensated to Asian countries including, China, Korea, Indonesia, Philipine, and so on.

    You should study more the fact before you adress such a thing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Doug S.7:45 pm

    I felt the wording is very appropriate and should not be offensive to
    anyone.
    The wording is very good. Excellent piece of work. It does put forward a
    lot of Canadian values and that's great.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Eiji Y.8:25 pm

    Each time that family travels overseas, the news coverage in Japan is only
    about the clean surface and never ever bring up the most important issue and
    that's why I cannot stand watching the news and turn off the TV.
    Japanese people don't want to know about it?
    Yes and No.
    Most of them don't even know or think that they are the most responsible
    family about the cruelty during the war.
    The brainwashing - or unbalanced way of point of view - is heavily in the
    Land of Falling Sun.

    I am very pleased about what you have done with your associates in Canada
    and how you carried it out.
    No major media - TV and papers - are that smart, but we each individual have
    to be smarter.

    FYI -

    A friend of mine who works for a well-known corporation in Japan once was in
    charge of receiving the emperor's 15 minute visit in their factory.
    The Ministry of Imperial Family told him and the company to do a drastic
    change of the whole lay-out of the factory including entrance, exit, parking
    lot and so on by saying that the emperor the god should not walk towards
    certain direction etc.
    He did it all which costed them many million yen.
    Some men from the Ministry came down and checked it all and said " Build a
    wall from here to there leading to the bathroom because no ordinary people
    should see when the emperor walks to the toilet. "
    They built the most weird looking long wall in the middle of theh factory by
    spending more million yen.

    On the day of the visit, the Ministry cancelled the visit just by saying "
    schedule has been changed ".

    ReplyDelete
  4. F. Nishisato7:28 am

    このような質問を現天皇に投げかける日本のメディアはいません。
    かって裕仁天皇は、「戦争責任」について問われ、他人事のように、あるいは他人事としか感じていないようなフリをして、答えをはぐらかしました。明仁天皇は、学習院の学友たちと疎開も経験され、爆撃で壊れた皇居の建物も記憶しているはずです。かって陸海軍の統帥として戦争の全責任を帯びて、全軍を指揮した天皇の立場を知っているはずです。「戦争責任」について問われれば、はぐらかさずに、きちんと答えられるのではないかと思います。

    ReplyDelete
  5. S. Maruyama4:33 pm

    日本であまり報道されていないようなのが問題だと思いますが、いい活動だと思います。ぜひ広めたいと思います。

    明仁天皇は、即位の儀式で「日本国憲法を遵守する」と誓われています。「この憲法が彼が触ることができないところで勝手に変えられたら、最初に困るのは天皇だ」という指摘(板垣恭介著「明仁さん、美智子さん、皇族やめませんか」大月書店)もあります。

    ReplyDelete
  6. 津村幸子4:41 pm

    私の感想を簡略にのべます。

    天皇は憲法の1章にあることしかできません。

    政治活動はもちろん、それゆえ外交活動も禁止です。

    彼には、なんの権限もありません。

    憲法改正は1章をなくすこと。

    年号拒否。これで生きています。

    ReplyDelete
  7. Joseph Thompson5:14 pm

    In response to "Japanese who lived in Van":-

    Yes, some Japanese government official did express regret or sorrow for the pains and sufferings that have caused to the Asian people. But unfortunately, there have been also very prominent politicians and right-wingers including the former prime minister Shinzo Abe and Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara to say the military sex slaves were not coerced or Nanking Massacre was a fabrication.

    The fact is up to now, an apology & compensation resolution for victims has never been able to get passed in neither the lower nor upper house of the Japanese parliament which is an institution elected by its people and should thus represent it's people's position. So, it is absolutely correct to say that Japan has never apologize nor compensate to the victims of Japanese atrocities committed before and during WWII.

    Joseph Thompson

    ReplyDelete
  8. Doug S.6:25 pm

    Here's a good quotation I found today from the Bob Lutz the marketing guy in charge of promoting the new GM cars. Sounds like a lot of the mothers/teachers/companies, and sadly the government.

    "We have to be much bolder, much less risk-averse," Lutz said. "Very
    frequently the General Motors way is to sanitize the message to the
    point where no one is offended. But when no one is offended, there's no interest in the message anymore." We need someone bold just to say they apologize sincerely to everyone. It would be really ideal if the Emperor would do this in Victoria, at
    Pearson College. He has the opportunity and it would make Japan such an impact for Japan, Asia and the World - and most likely encourage more people to take risks and challenge the world.

    ReplyDelete
  9. 三宅信雄7:20 pm

    訪カの天皇・皇后への公開書簡お送りいただいてありがとうございました。内
    > 容についていろいろ意見はあるでしょうが、私は結構とおもいます。ただ、カダ
    > ナの一般の方が日本の天皇は憲法上政治的権力は全くないことは知った上で読ん
    > で欲しいと思います。東京新聞はこのような記事をよく書いてくれますね。こち
    > らの被爆者運動についても、記事をよく書いてくれます。

    ReplyDelete
  10. C. Nagayama6:52 am

    バンクーバーという地の利と、天皇カナダ訪問の機会を最大限に生かし、平和運動を前進させるすばらしい業績だと思います。

    今回の公開書簡は、「バンクーバーでできる最良のこと」という風にわたしには見えて、聡子さんや皆さんが行動を起こされたことと、それが実を結んだということにとても励まされました。

    ReplyDelete
  11. 藤岡惇5:29 pm

    ハイチの独裁政権から逃れてきたミカエル・ジャンさんがカナダの元首に就任されていることなど、カナダの民族共生の伝統などは、
    日本でも報道されています。やはり今回は、多くの民族的集団に属する人たちと共同で公開書簡を出されたこと、しかも天皇夫妻
    を糾弾するのではなく、憲法9条擁護の努力を求めていることなど、日本の運動にとっても示唆的で画期的な内容をもっていると
    感じました。ユンカーマンさんの映画「日本国憲法」のなかで、チャルマーズ・ジョンソンさんが語っていたこと「憲法9条こそが
    アジア諸国にたいして日本が行った謝罪だったのです。9条の放棄は、この謝罪を放棄することになります」の大切さが浮き彫りになりましたね。 天皇夫妻に、憲法9条を守ってほしいということは、そのなかに含めている『謝罪』を放棄しないでほしいということになるわけですから、じつにシャープな公開書簡でした。

     ここ5年間ほどの聡子さんたちの運動の質の高さが、ここまでの成果を生み出したと率直にお祝いします。

    ReplyDelete
  12. 津村幸子11:42 am

    私は、1946年生まれで戦前の教育は受けていませんが、70代、80代の友人は
    2つにきっぱり分けられます。

    天皇をありがたく思う人と、偽りの教育で騙されたことに悔しいと、「反天皇」「
    9条擁護」などの活動に奔走している人です。

    戦後も国家は天皇擁護に躍起になっています。天皇を無害なものであることを宣伝
    し、人々を再び欺いてきました。

    結婚とか、誕生とかあらゆることをとおして。情けないのですが、愚民作りにおい
    て、国家はマスコミとグルになって

    素晴らしく上手です。そして成功しています。

    あらゆる差別の根源は天皇制にあります。「慰安婦」の被害者もです。

    ReplyDelete
  13. (天皇が現在の憲法下では象徴的存在にすぎないのでこのような手紙を出すのは不適切だという声に対し)

    アジアの人々としての当然の行為です。現在の日本国憲法上の天皇の位置づけ、なんて外国の人には、ましてやアジアの人には関係ない。天皇の名で侵略され、天皇の名で日本軍として徴兵までされた。様々な苦しみの責
    > 任を日本が取るまで天皇に言い続ける・・・支持します。

    ReplyDelete