“Feeling Powerless – Enduring Suffering – Building Bridges”
8 October 2011, Oude Kerk, Voorburg
- Interview met Mr. Tatsuo Morohoshi
- Working at the Burma-Thailand Railroad
- (EN) The Richness of Diversity gives Mankind willing to build Bridges, a New Destiny
- Closing words
1. Welcome ⎮ Hans Lindeijer
Welcome to this Conference on behalf of the steering committee.
Today it is about your stories and passing on these stories, because it is about our history and our future.
Your stories and also the speeches, are mostly about history. Passing it on, also in books and films, is what we are doing for our future.
This day is meant for that purpose.
Next to today’s program you have a number of interesting choices.
One of those choices is the following.
You are here; you walk here around in a living history book.
Look at your neighbour, yes feel free to look around, left, right.
Everyone has a story, everyone has his or her own history that could catch our interest, that is why we have come together today. There are stories connected with grief and anger. Yet you came, the attentive listener as well as the narrator are brave in my opinion.
We are free people, therefore let’s use it. Many people, who lived before us, have been fighting for this freedom of speech.
This is one of the choices for today, a choice for freedom of speech.
Another option for today is: browse through the books on display.
Besides all these walking-history-books around you, there are books displayed on the book table.
And for some books, the author is present here, how nice!
As for the book, “May we always stay in this camp?” by Henriette van Raalte. Welcome Henriette.
There will be a film made from this book. The script has been written already. In that film script the “comfort women” are mentioned and the boys who had to go to the boys’ camps. Never before a movie has been made about this subject. Henriette success, we are curious for the outcome.
Also present is a writer and researcher, Melinda Barnhardt.
Hello Melinda. Her book is expected to be for sale next year. This book is about the letters my father wrote during the war, but also about what happened when my brother was telling about those letters in Kamaishi. This is a unique part in the history of peace. If you want to be kept informed about this book- in the making, please write down your name and address on the list at the receptiondesk..
Also present is Henk Hovinga, with his book “In the face of death,” Henk welcome. His book fits well with the subject today: the Burma-Siam Railroad. His book mentions among others the mafia practices in both armies, the Japanese , as well as the military from KNIL.
So far about choices. All other choices, over coffee and sandwiches, I leave that to you.
I want to tell you briefly about the changes in Dialogue Steering Committee Netherlands-Indonesia-Japan.
This year we said goodbye to six people, yes 6, that’s pretty much.
First I want to mention Adrie Lindeijer van der Baan, my mother; she died on February 2 this year.
She was continuously teaching us and telling stories, till her last days. We are grateful that she lived so long and so active in our midst.
We said goodbye to five members who, for various reasons, had to stop their activities for the steering committee.
First of all Prof. Muraoka and his wife Keiko. They were the core of the Dialogue for over 10 years; rightfully we call them our pioneers. Now that we have taken over your baton, we experience what a work and dedication it takes.
We take this opportunity to thank again both of you for your efforts and everything you have built up and have passed on to us.
We also said goodbye to Pauline and her daughter Dorien Greeven. Thank Paulien and Dorien for your hospitality and the support we received from you.
Then my brother Wim. He too was a true pioneer. Together with Adrie he made the journies to Kamaishi. This action-for peace is a lasting example for all of us.
Please let us applaud these six pioneers of the Dialogue.
The current eight members of the Steering Committee are open for your ideas. Yes, we seek to strengthen the group, but today we are not the most important subjects. Today it is mainly about your stories and your telling them to others, that is what the program is about..
One actual topic is on my heart.
I refer to the war crimes committed by the Dutch troops in 1947 in Rawagedeh on Java.
The gruesome execution of 150 men and boys, other sources speak of 431 dead.
A ruling by a Dutch court of law brought it back in the news again.
Official excuses for this crime and compensations for the widows, have never been given, all these 64 years.
I hope this Dutch government now has the courage to come to a humane conclusion.
Those who want to know more about this, talk to our steering committee member: Ibrahim Isa, he is a veteran of the war for independence of Indonesia. You can also read his column, which is also on the book table.
Now I can gladly announce the next speaker. She has two special links with us.
She’s mrs. Takemi Wada. She is from Japan, from the port of Kamaishi.
The word ‘survive’ evokes something like fear and pain. Possibly also camp-memories do the same for some of you
Takemi knows that word, and that fear too, but then caused by the tsunami that came in March this year. She survived a tidal wave that came through her town, but others did not.
This kind of “surviving” makes a distinctive connection. with us.
A complete different connection between Takemi and us, is a play. A play which we saw on video during the conference here in 2006.
That was a play about my father’s diary what he wrote as a POW in Kamaishi.
Takemi was one of the script makers of that play and her daughter had a part in that play, and so was my father’s diary brought on stage in a school in Kamaishi.
This play gave many students a very realistic sense of history.
2. speech ⎮ Mrs.Takemi Wada @Kamaishi, Japan
hank you very much for having invited me here to the meeting of Dialogue Netherland-Japan-Indoneshia.
I am from Japan, Kamaishi. Our town is located in the northern region and relatively small. There is a relation between the Netherland and us, but it is a part of sad history. During the WWII, in Kamaishi, where had developed as a heavy and military industrial town, there stood two prisoner-of-war camps. These camps contained Allied combatants, including American, British, Australian, and Dutch. It is said that they were forced to work for a local iron mine. A Dutch prisoner, Evert Willem Lindeijer was one of them. This is a book based on his diary during his containment days. This was published in Japan in 2000. Naoko Kato, a member of our Kamaishi International Exchange Society, cooperated to translate the text of the dairy. Since five years before the publishing, Dr. Wim Lindaijer Jr., his son, had visited Kamaishi and the site of the camps several times, so that an exchange with friendship between Dutch people and Kamaishi has begun.
In Kamaishi, there was an eager effort to know the true history, especially on the untold aspects of the World War II. The center of this effort was junior high school students and their history teacher.
They researched about the prisoner-of-war camps of Kamaishi, and they created a musical based on the story of Mr. Lindeijer and his family and played it themselves. Kamaishi International Exchange Society that I belong to have continued those efforts and put this theme as one of our most important activities.
We had a very big earthquake and devastating tsunami this March. On this horrible occasion, Mr. Edward Lehman and his family kindly invited some of the affected people through the interaction between this organization and our Society.
Today, I am going to talk about my direct experience from the disaster that hit the Northern-East region of Japan. Tsunami took the lives of many people including my parents and my pet dog. I lost everything other than the things I wore that day.
It was a quiet morning, the start of the day which it should otherwise have been one of those ordinary days. On the 11th of March, the day Japanese people would never be able to forget, I lost my house and the tsunami took the lives of my parents and our pet dog. My mother is still missing. I was out of town for some errands that day. At 2: 46 p.m., a very strong quake hit us. That was the one I had never experienced before. I just thought it would overturn my car with me in. Somebody who was listening to the radio said, “It says the seismic center is around the coastal area. It may have been devastated.” I immediately took the road to my hometown. I was worried about my family and my old parents. But that concern was not coming from tsunami. The possibility of tsunami hitting never came up to mind. I just thought that they must be with broken glasses and collapsed furniture around. It was completely dark when I got there. I was caught in a traffic jam at the entrance of the town. Since the mountain road was outside the coverage area of radio frequency and neither had I been listening to the radio nor had my cell phone been functioning, I did not know anything about what had happened and asked a stupid question to the policeman who had stopped me. “Is it some traffic accident?” He looked startled and said. “You were not listening to the radio? It is not a traffic accident. It is tsunami.” “Tsunami? Then why are you stopping me here. It is too far from the beach.” He said, “Tsunami came up here.” I couldn’t believe him. I said, “Anyway, I need to go back home. My parents and second son must be there waiting for me.” The policeman stared at me and said quietly, “The town is gone, mom. Tsunami took the whole town.” I could not get him properly and tried to force my car forward shaking off his restraint. When I directed my car into the town, in the headlight, a scene I had never seen appeared. Many of you here may have watched houses being carried away by tsunami on TV, but those houses off course must have been the size that could be accommodated in the TV screen. What I saw was hundreds of upset houses in the actual size. Utility poles were bent and snapped into halves, a car was hanging down from the window of the second floor of a building. Then I finally realized some dreadful event hit our town.
I headed to the gym of a junior high school in town and ended up spending that night there because the city had specified it as a temporal evacuation center in time of disaster. It was a freezing night, snowing outside. Nobody had expected such disaster and therefore there were no heaters, no blankets, even no sheets to cover the bare floor in the gym. I was very thirsty but there were no vending machines, no stores, no shop clerks to sell, the taps did not squeeze out even a drip to sip. We came close together to avoid freezing to death and tried to take a sleep but I could not make it. Where are my parents? Is my second son alive? Is our house gone? Later I heard that dozens of people had been on the roof of a hospital for help nearby that night. Most of them were elderly in-patients. They were chased up onto the roof by tsunami and were all wet only in thin hospital pajamas in the snow. Some of them did not survive that night. I also heard several tens of high school students had a narrow escape from tsunami to a small hill and offered elderlies a rest in a small clubhouse. They endured at the bitter coldness by coming closer together and spent that night outdoors in snow without jackets. In the temporal evacuation center, there were about 1000 people that night but the number of the toilets we could use was only eight. We had no electricity, no water, no papers. The toilet seats were almost flooded but we still had to excrete over other peoples’ excretion. I was to tears in the bathroom from the sense of helplessness. I thought, “This is the reality of the disaster. This means being affected. We need to think a way to protect selves.”
From next morning, I started looking for my family. As my car was about to run out of gas, I wandered around on foot from place to place in a totally devastated town. On the fourth day, I finally could meet my husband and my sons and could talk to my daughter on a satellite telephone. On the 10th of my search I could identify my father in a temporal mortuary. As with other peoples’ bodies, his one was damaged and he lost his right ear through the back of the head on the right side. The bodies of those peoples’ still kept the expressions of their last moment on their faces, which was neither an anger nor agony, but they just looked surprised. I kept going to a temporal mortuary for two months to find my mother who is still missing. A temporal mortuary that contained hundreds of dead bodies for as long as two months emitted such strong odor that we could identify it immediately after we got off our cars in the parking lot. All bodies were heavily damaged. Ones with no head, no limbs, no features on their faces were not uncommon. I witnessed deep sorrow, grief, and survivors’ guilt there. A woman in her fifties had left her mother at home who had not wanted to escape when she saw a giant tsunami came approaching. She was struggling with strong remorse. But who can blame her? If I myself had been at home that day, I should have been forced a decision whether to stay there with my parents to die, or to leave them there to escape because my mother couldn’t work properly. And there was a young woman who had been a single mother and had lost her only child. She held on to a policeman to beg him to kill her while crying. There was also a family who had moved to a new house they bought on a previous day of tsunami. They had spent only one night and lost it next day, which left them a huge amount of loan repayments. And other man had survived tsunami but committed suicide because he had lost all other members of his family. The hardest sight for me was bodies of young children. Since their parents were also gone, they had nobody to come and find them. They finally were incinerated as the unknowns. Sad stories were uncountable. When I was there to find my parents, I identified the bodies of my cousin, friends, neighbors and so many other people I acquainted with. These experiences have made me deeply depressed. This must continue to hurt me for a long time in my life.
Almost six months have passed since that day and I am still unsure what the earthquake and tsunami has taken away from us and why people needed to die. Through this harsh experience, I think I unexpectedly learned some lessons. One of them is that we can never ever be overconfident with the force of nature. We learned the impossibles are possible to happen. Paradigm should shift from the control of nature to co-existence with it. Also I learned that we can’t take just being with our beloved people for granted. I assumed that my days with my family, my friends, my pet dog would last forever, but those were not eternal gifts. In the morning of that day, my mother called me. She was a bit childish after she had survived a stroke last year. She complained about itchiness about her eyes and asked me to take her to the hospital that day. I was busy then and said a bit sharply to her, “Don’t behave like a child. Be patient, and I will take you there tomorrow, OK?” I didn’t know then this would be the last conversation with her. I have realized how important and precious it is to take all opportunities to express our affection, appreciation, and care with words.
Here I would like to thank you all for giving us a strong support. Especially I appreciate Mr. Edward Lehman for his kind invitation to us here. Your warm support to us will encourage all of us into making a strong step toward a reconstruction. To know that there are people who are praying for us in a country far from Japan does give us energy for a better future.
I would say thank you very much again on behalf of all people in Japan, especially Kamaishi.
3. Interview with Mr. Tatsuo Morohoshi ⎮ Dr. Kaori Maekawa
A personal recollection of Japanese railway man in Burma-Thai Railway
Tatsuo MOROHOSHI : born in Tokyo, 9 September 1918
Call up for military on 14 Sep 1941. He entered military as non-trained fill up soldier to the 9th Railway Regiment of Japanese Army when he was staff at the management bureau of Sapporo Railway in Hokkaido. He was considered to be weak in the Army as non-trained fill up soldier all through his military life. He belonged to the 4th section of No.7th Company of the 4th Battalion of the 9th Railway Regiment, commanded by Cadet Officer Eiji HIROTA. After he was trained by Hirota, he left Osaka port on 16 October, one month after his enlistment. Arrived in French Indo China on 29 Oct and he became an orderly to serve Hirota. (Hirota was hang to death in Singapore as a war criminal) Landed Hainan Island on 23, proceeded to Singola, Thailand after the outbreak of Pacific War on 8 December 1941. He was discharged from officer’s orderly in Kuala Lumpur on 9 January 1942 and received special training as medical orderly. His unit landed in Rangoon in Burma on 12 April 1942, proceeded to Bankok. He worked Burma-Thai Railway as medical orderly in Banpon, Kancanaburi, Kannyu, Malay village, Hintuk (Hellfire Pass), Kinsaiyok. He did not attend the ceremony of Burma-Thai Railway on 1 October 1943, because he worked Kura railway, sub railway line from Banpon. He proceeded to Pekanbaru for Sumatra railway construction on 12 April 1944. The completion of Sumatra railway was 15 August 1945, the day of surrender. After the Japan’s surrender he was transferred to Batu Pahat in Malay for British labor as POW. He left Singapore for repatriation in the end of August 1947, landed Sasebo port, Nagasaki, and completed demobilization on 18 September. He studied Law at Nihon University while he was working aｔ Japan Railway. Retired in 1975 as company’s Advisor. He is known to collect and to keep records about the Burma-Thai railway in Japan.
Reference: POW Research Network Japan
Mr. Morohoshi observed POWs who suffered from cholera spread but he couldn’t do anything to help them. He talked his personal recollections about his experience in Burma-Thai Railway; commitment as medical orderly, death sentenced commander Hirota and his experience as POW by under British force after the war. The two hours interview is edited into the short presentation video. The video is shown as an open letter to Dutch people from a Japanese railway man.
Japanese POW Policy and “Senjin Kun” Military Code
Those who know shame are strong. Think about the family’s fame in the homeland and reward their expectations. Soldiers must never suffer the disgrace of being captured alive and better die than to be alive in dishonor.
—–New Japanese philosophy of death/ Being POW is a shame/ lack of education on the International Conventions for the treatment of POWs
—–However, government high officials and military officers understood the Hague treaty and Geneva Conventions. On the other hand, military soldiers in general did not have any standard education on them. These soldiers even didn’t know about their own right when they fall into enemy’s hand.
Relations between POW camps and Railway Regiments (See Chart 1, Chart 2)
＊Management and guard of POWs were under control of POW camps.
＊Guard and labor at construction was under the Railway Regiments.
・”Railway Regiment tend to use POWs at will without knowledge of the Geneva Convention. Some people said POW camps staff were more sympathetic to POWs than Railway Regiments since Camp staff were officially aimed on keeping the POWs health. It was said that POW camps often confronted the Railway Regiments.”
・ ”Railway construction units and POW camps belonged to different organization and line of command. But POWs were under control of Railway Regiments during their labor activities for building the railway”
Toshiharu YOSHIKAWA, Taimen Testudo (Burma-Thai Railway)
(Tokyo: Dobunkan, 1994 pp.173-4
4. Working at the Burma-Thailand Railroad ⎮ Felix Bakker
A matter of surviving
1 Start of the Pacific War
Struggle and Capitulation
At the outbreak of war in the Pacific, December 8th 1941, I had been just 2 weeks in training for the marines in the Goebeng Navy barracks in Surabaya.
A month and half before I, following an ad in a paper, enlisted as a volunteer for the Marine Corps. I had just reached the required age of 16 years and also met the other requirements to be accepted. My motivation was just to help defending my homeland. The military threat of Japan was undeniable after the occupation of French Indo China and I was not that naïf as to think that the Netherlands Indies would remain scot-free.
And now the moment was there; the long awaited war had begun.
Almost three months later, in the morning of March 5th 1942, the war started in reality for me. The marines in training had been assigned to two marine companies who were deployed against the advancing Japanese troops in East-Java. After heavy losses on our side in battles at Kertosono and Nganduk, we received orders to retreat. Followed a few days later by the total capitulation.
When I had to hand in my weapon, I hardly could restrain my tears of anger and disbelief. To my relief I saw that I was not the only one to react in such a way.
Not at any moment during the fighting did I feel inferior to the opponent and I did not feel defeated, not withstanding their superior arms and also their air support.
2 Put into captivity
Several weeks later we marched in the darkness of evening into the camp in the city of Malang, without arms and defenceless. At that time I had a faint idea that the struggle would go on. Only much later I understood how.
From the beginning on the Japanese showed that they disregarded the Geneva Convention as far as it concerned prisoners of war. To make that clear to us, five men, who had escaped from camp but were captured again, were executed in a field behind our camp. We had to witness that with feelings of anger, humiliation and hate.
Incidental personal abuse, nasty chores meant as humiliation and bullying work measures aside, I could rather well withstand the period in the Malang camp.
3 On transport
By the end of December 1942 I, together with 1100 men, was put on transport in a blinded train to Batavia.
A week later 1200 POW’s were crammed, “like sardines in a tin”, in the hold of one rusty “Honki-Tonki Maru” freighter and shipped to Singapore. A miserable journey, that took 3 long days and nights.
After staying about 10 days in Camp Changi, I was transported by train, together with 650 fellow prisoners, direction Thailand. 36 Men stuffed in a steel boxcar. During the day we suffocated from the heat and at night we shivered from cold. Once or twice a day there was a short stop to refuel the locomotive and to provide the prisoners with some scarce food and water. Again, like during our voyage on the sea, there were cases of diarrhea and dysentery with all the associated problems. Sleep was impossible in that limited space, one could only sit with knees drawn up. In short, it was a miserable ordeal, five days and five nights long. Later on it proved to be a taste of what was to come soon afterwards. Sometimes it is good that you do not know in advance what is in store for you.
4 Working on the Railroad
Forced labor and surviving.
Early morning: arrival in Ban Pong, Thailand.
Transported by lorries to Kanchanaburi. From there we had to walk (more or less sleepwalking) to the base camp Chungkai, surrounded by woods. Since November 1945 it was already inhabited by British POW’s. We were the first group of Dutchmen they saw.
We heard by no means uplifting stories from the British about the work on the Railway and of the camps more ‘Up Country’.
After staying there a few days, we left in a group of about 650 men, leaving behind a few severely ill patients, for our first working camp. We had to walk for two days through the hot “bush”, with a lot of “bamboedoeri” (bamboo with sharp thorns) before we arrived at a clearing in the jungle. There stood a total of six tents. Five rather new looking tents stood grouped together, they were for the Japanese Commander and the Korean guards. And one old patched tent, intended for our seriously ill patients. So here no camp with barracks and sleeping places made from bamboo and “atap” (roofs made from palm leafs), like in the Chungkai camp, but camping in the open air!
Luckily it was still the dry monsoon, so why bother!
And before dark designated working squads had to dig latrines, gather firewood in the woods and fetch water from the nearby river for the “kitchen”.
When we finally had eaten our bowl of rice and pumpkin-soup it was dark and time to find, fully exhausted, a “tampat” (sleeping place) in the open.
Getting up next morning at five. Eating a bowl of rice-porridge and at half past five roll call to be divided in five working squads of a 100 men each. Then marching to our work on the railway.
Each squad had a task: to move 100 cubic metres earth per day to construct the embankment projected for that part of the track. The only tools we were provided with were picks, shovels and wicker baskets.
Later on, in the mountainside, we had to do with quit a different kind of work, like building bridges, excavating hills, carving cliffs.
In the beginning the working squads could finish the 100 cubic metres and arrive back in the camp before darkness. But because of the ever growing number of patients, meaning more drop-outs, those 100 cubic metres had to be finished by an ever diminishing number of “fit” workers. The Japanese however did not take this into account; work had to be continued until the task was done. It happened often that the squads even had to work past midnight and were not allowed to return to the camp. I experienced that several times. We worked by the light of wood fires. And slept there afterwards.
This inhuman kind of forced labor soon had consequences. Dysentery, malaria, beriberi, tropical ulcers in combination with exhaustion, undernourishment and lack of medicines, caused many dead victims. In this first working camp, known as Nombaradai, called by us by the name of NonParadise, we had to leave behind eighteen dead. There were many more to come in the camps that followed.
Nombaradai was only the beginning of many months of incredibly heavy forced labor and miserable living conditions in the labor camps. Especially when, during the period of the monsoon rains, the pace of work was drastically increased and the already scarce food rations were reduced, the number of deaths and sick among the prisoners of war rose in a disturbing way. Just like all of us, I walked around with bare feet and only clad in a loin-cloth. Since many months I had no shoes anymore and I wore my last pair of trouser and t-shirt only when I was shivering from fever when I had a bout of malaria again.
Still more POW’s came in from Singapore and shortly before the rain season the Japanese started the deployment of eventually more than 100.000 Asian laborers
By that time I was convinced that it was the intention of the Japanese to work us to death. According to their military code the lives of the POW’s were worthless. But even against their own wounded Japanese comrades in arms they acted very harsh. That I noticed on several occasions.
That faint foreboding I had in the evening when I entered the camp in Malang came clear to me now. I understood that this would become a struggle for survival. comradeship, self-discipline and spiritual power formed the base to endure and not to give up.
Of course there were individuals among us who did not refrain to put their self interests first, at the expense of their sick inmates. These were usually reprimanded immediately in harsh words for their selfish behaviour.
There were many differences in the kind of work on the railroad. Constructing bridges over deep ravines was not without danger. The scaffolding that was used consisted of bamboo poles tied together with wet strips of bark. Working on the construction of a bridge, in pouring rain, barefoot on a slippery bamboo scaffold was indeed a “deadly” serious matter.
Apart from the circumstances at that time, working on bridges and ducts I found varied and interesting. In contrast, I found chiselling holes in the rocks to insert dynamite and removing the shattered large and small debris after the explosions, stupid and exhausting. I experienced this when we had to remove a long and high wall of rock south of the Wampo overpass. That took about four weeks of working, day and night in three shifts,
For several months after the completion of the Railroad, I had to work in a camp near that road.
5 Construction of the Railroad completed
The time of aerial bombardments.
November 1943 the Japanese Army could start the use of the Railroad.
Many labor camps were evacuated and all the sick and less fit prisoners of war were returned to base and hospital camps in Thailand.
Mid 1944 the first bombardments by the Allied on targets in Thailand started. Also the Railroad and the nearby POW camps became targets for airstrikes.
Contrary to the Geneva Convention these camps were not marked as such clearly and visibly from the air. This caused many casualties among the prisoners of war. In a camp for Dutch men in Nong Pladuk there were 97 deaths and much more wounded in one airstrike.
During the months January – March 1945 I was staying in the camp Tamakham. About 200 metres away from the large steel railway bridge and the nearby wooden railway bridge over the river Kwae Yai. At the first airstrike 17 prisoners of war perished in the camp.
Three times a week we were hit by airstrikes. Although they were aimed at both bridges, it was a nerve racking period to experience. When, at last, the steel bridge was heavily damaged and the wooden bridge blown away completely, the camp was evacuated and I found myself back in Cungkai.
I saw that the camp was surrounded by a wide moat, shielded by an earthen wall with machinegun bunkers at the four corners with the shooting openings aimed inwards. Everybody knew or suspected what all of this was meant for, but spoke little about it.
6 The end of war
After one month I went with a group of 125 men to a camp near PrachuapKirikan, located on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand. During a few months there, we had to unload Japanese army material, from wooden fishing boats and junks. It turned out that that was my last job in my unwanted career as a forced laborer. In PrachuapKirikan I experienced on 19th of August 1945, the end of the war and the beginning of our regained freedom.
7 Looking back
In two month it will be the 8th of December and that is exactly 70 years ago since I stood on the eve of the events that I told here. My memories of that period begin to fade away.
Many years ago I learned to overcome my emotions.
I have been back to Thailand many times.
Also I visited Japan several times. Since many years I have Japanese friends there with whom the dialogue started.
Finally I found it of extreme value, that I could return to my homeland every year, already 30 times.
In the past years many books on the Burma-Thailand Railroad have been published, many stories told and many interviews held. Also many official documents from archives have become public. Many books have gone out of print and are no longer available.
But there is one book that touched me deeply and I want to recommend it to you:
the book titled
“De Birma Spoorweg. Een visuele herinnering” by the artist/writer Otto Kreefft who died in 2009. The first Dutch edition was published in 1998 and the second in 2010.
In the past years three editions in English were published. *)
*) BURMA RAILWAY: Some Scenes Remembered – A Visual Recollection [Paperback] Otto Kreefft (Translated by John Webb, Netteke Crombie & Otto Kreefft Kreefft (Author)
I thank you for your attention.[Translation by A.H. Stephan]
5. (EN) The Richness of Diversity gives Mankind willing to build Bridges, a New Destiny ⎮ Joty ter Kulve
Thank you for the opportunity to be with you all today.
To listen to mrs Kaori Maekawa and mrs Takemi Wada from Kamashi, My heart goes out to all those people who have suffered so much because of the Tsunami . I greatly admire the way the Japanese people have undergone this tremendous tragedy. People from all over the world were shocked by the images of devastation and hardship endured by the Japanese people.
I understand that this dialogue organisation has come to birth because mr and mrs Lindeijer who were just like myself prisoners of war during World War II, decided to let go of the past and felt they had to try to make peace with their former enemies.
Personally I have experienced that even in the darkest days of your life, you are able to see the stars in a dark universe. That even when you are imprisoned you can be a free person.
My story is the story of many women in the Japanese prison camps, but it is also the story of millions of women today who suffer from the wars still raging on many continents, of raped women and their suffering because they can not feed their children.
I was 14 years old, just as old as my granddaughter Wibien today, when in 1942 the Japanese invaded Indonesia. I remember very vividly our first encounter in Linggajati.
My sister and I walked back from the swimming pool when suddenly hundreds of Japanese soldiers rolled by on motorbikes. In green uniforms. The beginning of a nightmare which lasted three years.
Followed by a deadly guerrilla war between Dutch citizens and Indonesian Pemuda’s. Freedom-fighters young men trained by the Japanese army.
The guerilla war broke out right after the proclamation of Independence in Jakarta august 17, 1945 by President Sukarno and Vice- President Hatta of the Republic Indonesia.
During the Bersiap many Dutch –Indonesian citizens who had not been interned by the Japanese, died in an awesome way. This period is a dark page in our history, long not acknowledged by our own government.
Another forgotten factor of World War II in the Pacific is, that thousands of Indonesian were forced by the Japanese army to work for them like the Dutch prisoners of war under devastating circumstances, the Romusha’s. Also forgotten history.
I am not a politician or a historian, But the experiences of my youth in Indonesia, my father was Dutch and my mother half Indonesian half Dutch, the experiences of World War II, working in many places around the world and the fact that our home, in Linggajti built by my father has become a museum a symbol for the Indonesian Freedom, made me into a world-citizen.
War destroys people, I have friends who still suffer from those years in the Japanese concentrationcamps, many of my generation died without finding the peace they were so much looking for. And today there are every day young boys coming back from Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and others who have lost their legs or arms, and are at a loss mentally. And think of Africa, all those young people who want to give their life for freedom.
What can we give them, can we share their experiences, no we can not but what we can do is to learn from the past and try to find a common purpose in a very divided world. Maybe through conferences like today and to decide to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Each person has a chance to be part of the solution. To begin with in our homes and our neighbourhood, school.
I want to share with you an experience I had as a young girl just before the Japanese invaded the islands of Smaragd.
Just before we were imprisoned during World War II, I was 14 and loved to walk by myself in the rice fields ( sawahs ) near our home in Linggarjati, when suddenly I had an amazing experience . It felt as if I was linked with the universe and I heard a voice a voice telling me :’ I am your God I will protect you, do not fear’. I was not raised with religion so this was quite an experience it seemed very real.
A few days later that protection was already needed. My mother was summoned by the Japanese military police the Kempei Tai, to come to their office with my sister and myself. And there she was ordered to leave her daughters and go home by herself. We were needed for the brothel. My mother answered that the Commander should first kill her before he could get her girls. We were locked in a room during some dark hours and then again he ordered my mother to leave us there, again she refused and then suddenly the man let us go.
That was the protection I realized much much later which God promised me walking in the rice fields.
After the war together with 300.000 Dutch citizens I migrated to the Netherlands were I had the privilege to study law in Utrecht. When I finished my studies I left for Paris and Switzerland, and worked for a non profit organisation all over the world. It was in Caux Switzerland that I made peace with the Japanese at an international conference. It gave me a passion and a purpose in life. What happened in my encounter you can read in the story Fumi Hoshino put on the website. (https://sites.google.com/site/dialoognljp/programmas/essays/4kul) I made a decision to let go of the past and be open and wiling to hear the story of the Japanese and in particular of the Indonesians.
This decision has been the key of a new understanding of people from all cultures, races and nationalities. It made me see the beauty of diversity the richness of different cultures. Diversity is beautifull and creates new opportunities. Diversity brings us forwards. Think of all the diversities of choices, opportunities, the styles and choices the new technologies bring us. Diversity is part of us.
The world moves in the direction of multicultural, ethnic societies. But to be able to make such a world function, we must be prepared and willing to recognize the global problems we face. We must be willing to change .
In 2002 a new adventure started when my brother asked me to help him to establish a Foundation to to inform people in the Netherlands about a little museum in Linggajati which has become a symbol of Freedom for the Indonesian people. This house happens to be the House my father built in 1934. In this House the Agreement of Linggajati was signed by Dutch and Indonesian leaders. For the first time the Dutch de facto acknowledged the Republic Indonesia. The Indonesian leaders, President Soekarno, Syahir and Hatta were able to get the agreement through their parlement. Dutch politicians felt that the time was not there to grant the Indonesian people their Independence and instead sent military troops to Indonesia to get the colony again under Dutch control.
You can say that the decision to refuse to get the agreement of Linggajati accepted in the Netherlands, meant that the Netherlands as a political force in Asia had come to an end.
Japan as a nation lost the war, but is still a power in Asia and Indonesia is an upcoming nation, belonging to the G 20 and this year chairman of ASEAN.
The three flags of Fumi tell us the story of World war II, but if we want to create a new world a pearl as Fumi expresses himself, we first have to know what is happening in the world of today.
The problem of the Dutch at this point is not Asia but Europe. Will we be able as a nation to see that the world is changing just as in 1945 ? After World War II we missed as a nation the boat and today?
Are we in the Netherlands, Europe aware of the power changes which take place, the shift of power from the West to the East ? Asia and Africa, South America want their share of the natural treasures of the globe. Are we able in Europe to stop thinking about ethnical and cultural divides and national borders to create together a new Europe?
Have we learned the lessons of our common past?
Japan, Indonesia and the Netherlands have one thing in common they are democracies.
Democracy without liberty and public discussion is not possible. People in democracies may not be fighting to overthrow a dictator, but we share with the Arab World a yearning for dignity, I read somewhere an editorial, it said : dignity means worthiness, and “ a government can’t move a country forward if leaders do not value the people, do not find them worthy” This goes for a dictatorship but also for democracies.
What we as Japanese, Dutch, as Indonesians must ask ourselves is : what are the lessons of World War II tht we have passed on to our children and grandchildren.
As for the Netherlands : We Dutch were very arrogant and insensitive to the aspirations of the Indonesian people. That had to change to build a new relationship. As well , in 1945 and the years following, the Dutch politicians and people believed that the loss of the Dutch-East Indies would mean bankruptcy for the Netherlands. We were mistaken. Trading with European partners created wealth in the Netherlands even before, and as well as after World War II. Trade for the Netherlands has always been vital, even more so today.
In Japan democracy and modernization have brought wealth and a global trading importance. Post World War II Japan has far more wealth and world respect than Japan ever could have gained by occupying parts of Asia as in the pre-World War II years. Japan is now a global trading power and a trusted friend and partner to the Asian people.
As for Indonesia, Indonesia was able to develop into the nation she now is through a very difficult period of transition from a colony to and independent nation. They were able to maintain their diversity, different cultures, ethnic groups and languages, and yet become one nation, one people and one language. The Suharto years were difficult for Indonesia, but Indonesia has now become an example for the world.
So which lesson can we draw from these three countries? The lesson that unless ordinary people and our policians decide to look beyond their own interests and horizons and discover common opportunities as well as threats to prosperity, failure is certain. Together we are discovering what is needed in a globalized world.
To some degree, nations are like the individuals who comprise them. Both individuals and nations have interests. But just as each member of a family must be ready to pursue his or her personal interest within the lager context of the family, so must nations pursue their goals within the larger context of the needs of the family of nations.
I have always admired Martin Luther King Jr. I visited his monument in Washington D.C..Martin Luther King fought his whole life for equality and justice. I will cite a sentence written on his memorial :
‘Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’
6. closing words ⎮ Takamitsu Muraoka
Having now reached the end of today’s programme we would like to collect our thoughts on what we have heard and watched.
Over the past two years our Dialogue has been going through a significant evolution in terms of a new dimension, a third dimension added to the Dialogue, namely the Indonesian dimension. Hence the Dialogue is now renamed “Dialoog Nederland-Japan-Indonesië. With the benefit of hindsight this is a most natural, obvious transformation, since the Dialogue was focused from its conception on the military – political conflicts which were played out in the Indonesian archipelago and on the aftermath of those conflicts. In those conflicts the local Indonesian people were, of course, involved. This involvement, unfortunately, did not end with the capitulation of Japan in August, 1945. The post-war Dutch-Indonesian conflict resulted, at least to a certain extent, from the situation that had prevailed during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies.
This triangular nature of the Dialogue is well captured in the speech delivered by Ms ter Kulve. She has explored ways of building bridges across the diversity of cultural, historical, ethnic, and political diversities as represented by the three distinct national groups who have been involved in sometimes painful interactions since the mid 20th century. As a native of Indonesia she brings a poignant personal dimension to bear upon her plea and discourse.
From her speech itself and a much longer memoir on a website, to which she has referred, I cannot quite make out precisely how she made peace with Japanese people she met at Caux, Switzerland, and at a conference in Michigan in 1954. Mrs ter Kulve would naturally agree that no peace is possible without the two parties involved coming to agree that one of the parties was unjustly wronged by the other. In his welcoming words Mr Hans Lindeijer has referred to a recent “Guilty” verdict brought down in a Dutch court over the horrible massacre that took place in 1947 in Java. When I first heard of this verdict, I was deeply impressed by the courage and integrity of the court. The court has obviously taken the view that for crimes of this enormity there should be no prescription (verjaring), a position written into a law by the Bundestag against Nazi war crimes. As a Japanese I regret to say that Japanese courts and post-war Japanese governments have often taken the contrary view. Only recently the new Japanese foreign minister reminded his South Korean counterpart that the issue of compensation for Korean women who had been coerced into prostitution by the Japanese army during the WWII has already been settled. Is Mr Genba, our foreign minister, aware that on an official bilingual (Japanese/English) website of his ministry the following sentences are to be read?
In many cases private recruiters, asked by the comfort station operators who represented the request of the military authorities, conducted the recruitment of comfort women. Pressed by the growing need for more comfort women stemming from the spread of the war, these recruiters resorted in any (sic!) cases to coaxing and intimidating these women to be recruited against their own will, and there were even cases where administrative/ military personnel directly took part in the recruitments.
Is he also aware that neither of his two immediate predecessors in office has even acknowledged receipt of my personal letter to them, in which I explicitly requested considering deletion of this passage? Nor have I received any response from our ambassador in the Hague, who has been sent a copy of the letter. The passage is unquestionably insulting to the victims and their countries, and equally an insult to women in general. It is also a shameful testimony to the distorted historiography. When it is Japan that started the Pacific War, how on earth could one speak of the spread of the war as a justification for coercion of those ladies as sex slaves?
This highlights once again one of the major aims of our Dialogue, namely face our own past history and learn from it. Mr Bakker’s address based on his personal, painful memories and experiences has significantly enhanced this aim of our Dialogue. Fortunately he has survived this inhumane ordeal forced on him by the previous generation. of my compatriots. I must offer him my deepest sympathies. This object might remind him of those years of hellish hardship. Next month, accompanied by my wife, I’m going to leave for Myanmar, formerly Burma, to do my stint of five weeks’ voluntary teaching at two theological seminaries there. We shall be reflecting on the sufferings inflicted on you, Mr Bakker, and your colleagues there during those closing years of the war. You as well as Mrs ter Kulve justly mentioned a huge number of South East Asian forced labourers put to work on the death railway. Given the triangular dimension of our Dialogue I think it appropriate to mention one such labourer of Indonesian origin. Although he survived the ordeal, he did not have money enough to return home after the war, so he decided to settle in Thailand, marrying a local girl. Some years ago he was met in his village by Mr Nagase, whom Mrs Maekawa has mentioned, and was offered cash to buy a return air ticket with. On his return to his village in Java for the first time after more than half a century there were at the beginning some difficulties with him and villagers in recognising one another. One evening, an elderly woman came up to him, and asked: “Do you remember me?” However hard he struggled, he couldn’t. Then she muttered: “I was your fiancée. And I still am,” whereupon the old man broke down. He may not have been an isolated case, I fear.
Much of what Japan and its army did in Asia during the first half of the last century can be justly called a disaster, but a human disaster which should not have happened. It was a disaster visited also on Japanese people, not entirely self-inflicted. When relations wilfully broken and damaged as a result of wars, aggression, destruction and plundering are repaired and a peaceful, harmonious relationship is restored between the former enemies, it is a wonderful, valuable experience as attested by Mrs ter Kulve and Mr Bakker. Mr Morohoshi interviewed by Mrs Maekawa had little personal dealings with POWs forced to work on the railway and therefore spoke on the vanity and misery of the war from the perspective of a Japanese soldier. Natural disasters, though, could have surprisingly healing effects. In my short article published against the background of the triple disaster visited on Japan I mentioned that our Dialogue owes part of its origin to another major earthquake which struck Japan in 1995. Shortly after the latest earthquake/tsunami I was contacted by a Dutch gentleman, who was a speaker at one of our earlier conferences. He wanted to make a donation for Japanese Christians in the area affected. The offer was no small change by any means. When I transferred the money to a pastor of a Japanese church, I attached a note saying that, given the background of the Dutch-Japanese relationships, this offer is different from, say, a German or French citizen. On Sept. 17 some of us attended a moving event held in Ruine in the NE of the country, “Drenthe ontmoet Japan,” an event in the organisation of which one of our organising committee, Mrs Tangena, was actively involved. It was also an event generously sponsored by Mr Lehman, a member of Foundation Sakura. Having a Japanese as his biological father he felt so deep sympathies for victims of the latest natural disaster that he was moved to invite two young Japanese from Kamaishi. We have heard one of them today, Ms Wada Takemi. Mr Lindeijer has thrown further significant light on the links which bind her with our Dialogue.
I fear I have already spoken a shade too long. I would like to conclude by thanking all the speakers, the organising committee for putting together this meaningful conference, the day chairman, and last but not least, all the remaining participants. With today’s conference, I believe our Dialogue has marked an important step forward. Thank you for your kind and patient attention.