Retired US Army Colonel and Former US Diplomat, also with Legal Degree
2017 Asia Study Tour Participant
I am very grateful to have been selected as a participant in the 2017 ALPHA Study Tour to China and South Korea.
I had been to both countries before and had visited a few of the museums that we went to on this study tour. However, the focus of our tour made the return to these museums take on deeper meanings.
I was familiar with the issue of sexual slavery of Korean women by the Japanese military, but I was not nearly as knowledgeable about the large number of sex slaves from China and other countries in Asia. Nor was I knowledgeable about the extent of the Japanese corporate use of forced labor nor the specifics of the Japanese government’s experiments on humans and animals of germ, biological and chemical warfare.
I was not aware of the secret US-Japan agreement that the US would not prosecute Japanese scientists and doctors that created, developed, tested, evaluated the horrific experiments on humans and animals—in exchange for the results of that testing. I did not know that the senior scientists and doctors returned to Japan and many became foremost scientists and doctors of premier universities and hospitals in Japan with apparently little notice given to their participation in the horrific experiments that killed thousands of persons.
The study tour gave us access to the incredibly dedicated lawyers, professors and social justice advocates in Shanghai, Quzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Harbin and Seoul who have spent decades of their lives documenting the history of World War II in Asia and the war crimes of the Japanese government. Their continuing legal and moral demands for acknowledgement, accountability and compensation for the victims and survivors are aspects of these issues that I will emphasize in the talks that I will give and the articles I will write.
In contrast to the Japanese government, I will emphasize the acknowledgement and apology of the German government for the terrible actions of the Nazi government, actions that have helped in the reconciliation with individuals and groups harmed by the actions. Instead the Japanese government has mounted campaigns against survivors of sexual slavery and forced labor that have spoken out and has attempted to rewrite history. The Japanese government’s campaign in China, South Korea and the United States against memorials and statues to the memory of victims of sexual slavery speaks to its refusal to acknowledge history.
Reviewing history should provide us with the abuses that come from militarism, war and violence. Unfortunately, our leaders of our governments either choose not to learn from history or purposely ignore the lessons of history and repeat the horrific actions of our predecessors. For us in the United States, the rape and prostitution and use of chemical warfare (Agent Orange) during the Vietnam war are evidence of our failure to heed history. The torture, human experiments in confinement in small places and subjection of prisoners to heat, cold, loud noise and extreme interrogation tactics to the point of organ failure during the Afghanistan, Iraq wars and Global War on Terror likewise point to our military and political leaders purposeful failure to learn from the past.
Finally, I want to congratulate Don Tow for his leadership in the selection process, the orientation prior to the trip, the logistics of the trip and the content of the study tour. Having been a tour leader to Cuba, Gaza, Pakistan and Afghanistan, I know the challenges of such trips. Don did a super job in all aspects.