This is the story of the Japanese prisoner of war camps on the island of Taiwan (Formosa) during the Second World War and of the men who were interned in them.
It seems that many people know about the hardship and suffering of the POW's working on the Death Railway in Thailand and Burma, but few know about the "hell-camps" of Taiwan. We hope to tell the story of the suffering and deprivation endured by the POW's so that all will know - and hopefully never forget!
Our site contains descriptions of the prison camps, a detailed list of all the former prisoners, an honour roll of those who died, and the story of the
Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights speaks out against Japan' stance on the Comfort Women issues on the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima . . .
Japan’s approach to the issue of “comfort women” is causing further violations of the victims’ human rights ― Pillay
GENEVA (6 August 2014)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday expressed profound regret that Japan has failed to pursue a comprehensive, impartial and lasting resolution of the issue of wartime sexual slavery, warning that the human rights of the victims, known as “comfort women”, continue to be violated decades after the end of the Second World War.
“During my visit to Japan in 2010, I appealed to the Government to provide effective redress to the victims of wartime sexual slavery,” the High Commissioner said. “Now, as my tenure in office comes to an end, it pains me to see that these courageous women, who have been fighting for their rights, are passing away one by one, without their rights restored and without receiving the reparation to which they are entitled.”
“This is not an issue relegated to history. It is a current issue, as human rights violations against these women continue to occur as long as their rights to justice and reparation are not realised,” she stressed.
Instead of justice, the High Commissioner said, the women are facing increasing denials and degrading remarks by public figures in Japan. A report issued by a Government-appointed study team on 20 June 2014, stated that “it was not possible to confirm that women were forcefully recruited.” Following the release of this report, a group in Tokyo publicly declared that “comfort women were not sex slaves but wartime prostitutes.”
“Such statements must cause tremendous agony to the women, but we have not seen any public rebuttal by the Government,” Pillay said.
Over the years, Japan has received recommendations from a number of UN independent experts, human rights treaty bodies and from the Human Rights Council under its Universal Periodic Review for it to take concrete measures to tackle the issue. Most recently, the UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, called on Japan to take “immediate and effective legislative and administrative measures” to ensure that all allegations of sexual slavery are investigated and perpetrators prosecuted. It also called for access to justice and reparations for victims and their families, the disclosure of all evidence available, and education in the country surrounding the issue.
Pillay noted that Japan had signed the UN Declaration on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict last year and that it had offered strong support to the UK summit on sexual violence in conflict earlier this year
“I encourage Japan to pursue a comprehensive, impartial and lasting resolution of the wartime sexual slavery issue with the same vigour,” she added, noting the Office’s readiness to offer any necessary assistance.
For more see:
AUGUST 9TH - ANOTHER REASON TO USE THE 'BOMB'
Recently I received an email with a story about a B-29 bomber crew on a mission to mine the waters off Kyushu Island Japan and who were forced to bail out after their plane was hit by flak. The men landed in the countryside and here is the account of one of those men, Sgt. Clarence L. Pressgrove – the last surviving member of the crew.
“I hit the ground running so I wouldn’t break my legs. I drew my chute in and hid it in a bush. Then I found a bush for me to hide in. This was after midnight on March 28, 1945.
The civilians knew we’d been shot down, so they were beating the brush, looking for our crew. When it came dawn, they were yelling and still beating the bushes.
When they got close to me, I got up and held up my hands, and the leader beckoned me to come toward him. Something told me to watch out.
As I approached, he swung his bamboo club at my head. But I’d been a track star in high school and took off running. I ran through the rice paddies — it’s just like trying to run in water. About 40 civilians chased me. One threw a brick that hit me in the head. I fell down.
Another civilian stood over me with a sickle raised to cut my head off.
Thank God the Japanese military got there to rescue me, or I wouldn’t be here today.
I was the first one caught. The military handcuffed and blindfolded me, then put me in a stake truck. The civilians yelled at me, running alongside the truck, ramming clubs between the slats to hit me in the ribs.”
After capture, Clarence and the other ten crew members were held in various POW camps and beaten and tortured. Finally they ended up at the infamous Omori Camp near Tokyo, where they remained til the war’s end.
Now so often when we talk about the necessity of dropping the atomic bombs, we list the potential causalities avoided and lives that were saved – including all of the POWs across Asia who were destined to be killed on or about August 20th 1945, plus the lives of the forces invading Japan and its defenders. This list of course includes the Japanese civilians, and I know people wonder and question if they really would have been involved.
From reading the above account we can clearly see that the Japanese people were not simply innocent bystanders and victims, but aggressive participants. They were still fanatical in support of their emperor and the cause to not only defend their homeland but to fight the enemy aggressively.
It is a known fact that women and children and old people were being armed and trained by the Japanese militarists to fight and defend their homeland at all costs – even if they had to use only sharpened bamboo spears and clubs to do it. One can clearly see how fanatical they were from the treatment afforded to Sgt. Pressgrove on his capture.
So the premise that a lot of “innocent” Japanese civilians would be killed in an invasion is correct, but bear in mind that those civilians would also have been fanatically fighting as part of the Japanese defense force.
Having been to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki and having seen the devastation caused by the bombs, one can agree that this kind of thing must never be allowed to happen again. It was however, the only way to end the war, given the fanaticism of the Japanese military – and also the common people at that time, and to save the lives of tens of thousands of captive POWs and hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers and perhaps upwards of a million Japanese. Let us pray that history will never repeat itself.
ANNOUNCING THE 17th ANNUAL REMEMBRANCE WEEK EVENT
DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATIONS - JULY 31ST
This year's Remembrance Week Event will take place from November 5 – 12, 2014.
As usual, we will have visits to the former POW camp sites complete with memorial services, local sightseeing tours, and the Remembrance Day service at the Taiwan POW Memorial on the site of the former Kinkaseki POW Camp in Jinguashi.
We invite and encourage former POWs, their family members and all friends and supporters to be with us this year. More information will be forthcoming later in the year, but those wishing to participate should contact us as early as possible to register for the program.
Please have a look at our "POW CAMP TOURS" page for more information on visiting Taiwan.
Democracy took root in Japan nearly 70 years ago after the end of World War II. Who would have thought that someone could overturn it so easily? But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has done just that !
For the past many months we have featured articles on the homepage regarding the sweeping changes taking place in Japan under the new LDP government of Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing extremists.
We have shown from reports and studies, first hand news accounts and references, how the Abe government wants to return to the extreme Right Wing policies of former times, how they want to rescind the so-called apologies made by former prime ministers and renounce the previous stand on the Comfort Women, now saying that they were simply prostitutes and that they were necessary and that they were not co-erced or forced by the Japanese military to perform services for the troops. They want to re-write Japan's pacifist constitution in order to make it possible for Japan to wage war again, and more alarmingly, they want to limit or abolish human rights and freedoms, so they can persecute those who differ with their opinion or who want to peacefully gather in protests. If one looks back at the history of the 20th Century, one can clearly see that these were also the policies adopted and propagated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis when they came to power in Germany 81 years ago in 1933!
We have removed the bulk of the articles from the homepage - except for the most recent developments - as we want to feature other things, but for those who are interested, please CLICK HERE to read the series of articles which reveal the startling changes which have taken place, and which will continue to take place in the near future under this extreme regime. Things have happened so fast in Japan in the past 1 1/2 years that is has been hard to keep up.
The Act on Protection of Specified Secrets (Secrecy Law) passed in Japan on December 6, 2013 which would jail people for inquiring about so-called state secrets - including government policies and actions - even if those things had not been so identified, has been flagged by the UN Human Rights Council and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations as compromising the people’s right to know and undermining democracy. When it was passed in the middle of the night on December 6, 2013, about 40,000 protesters had been maintaining a vigil in front of the Diet. This Secrecy Law could turn Japan into a “police state” that did not require police to explain the reasons for one’s arrest “because it was secret” (Banchō, Dommune, Tokyo, July 30, 2014).
One lawyer in the Association of Young Lawyers for the Protection of Tomorrow’s Freedom has also highlighted the problematic nature of the Abe Cabinet’s re-interpretation of the Constitution without undergoing an amendment process, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Diet. He argued that the Right to Collective Self-Defense primarily enables overseas wars in co-operation with the United States rather than Japan’s self-defense, which is already constitutionally permitted (Tamura Yūsuke, Dommune, July 30, 2014).
Polls show that a majority of citizens oppose both the Secrecy Law and the Right to Collective Self-Defense, as they also oppose restarting nuclear reactors. An overwhelming majority of over three-quarters (75%) object to the way the Abe administration has passed these policies—without sufficient discussion in the Diet, or with the public in the former, and without any discussion at all in the latter. Many activists see these issues as symptomatic of a basic problem: an oligarchy that ignores the people’s will and exerts excessive control over available information. Many feel Japanese democracy is under threat. Hence, recent protests have addressed these issues.
Many organizations have joined together over the past months in protest of the way Abe and his regime are running the country. Many are calling him a “fascist” and calling for his resignation. However, like Adolph Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930’s, Abe and his Right Wing fascist party are not listening and continue to steam-roll ahead with their agendas. The government and the people seem powerless to stop this and it is scary to think what lies in store for Japan and its people.
Adapted from part of an article by Noriko Manabe in the Asia-pacific Journal - Aug. 11, 2014
Self-immolation Protests PM Abe Overturning Japan’s Pacifist Postwar Order
On June 29, 2014 a man set himself on fire in Tokyo to protest PM Abe Shinzo’s bid to lift constitutional constraints on Japan’s military forces, and in subsequent days tens of thousands of citizens gathered outside the prime minister’s residence to loudly protest this initiative. Opinion polls, even those conducted by reliably rightwing news organizations, indicate widespread opposition to his 'renunciation of pacifism' and very little support for collective self-defense (CSD).
The mainstream media all but ignored this - the most extraordinary act of political protest in Japan in a quarter century. NHK news, the government broadcaster, didn’t even mention the event, apparently playing by Pyongyang rules: ignore any ugly truths that might discredit the powers that be. It looks like censorship of the media has already begun!
Abe has unshackled the so-called Japanese 'Self Defense Forces', and over 60 % of Japanese say that Japan is now more likely to get sucked into a war. He is getting his way by making a mockery of Japanese democracy in bypassing established procedures for amending the Constitution, doing it by the backdoor of 'edict' rather than the front door of 'revision' - as provided for in the Constitution.
Sabotaging Article 9 by decree bypasses established procedures for revising the Constitution that require two thirds approval in both chambers of the Diet and majority support in a national referendum. Reinterpretation is thus seen to be a dubious ploy to sidestep these procedures that flouts democratic principles. As such, Abe has acted like a thief in the night, stealing the heart and soul of Japan’s pacifist Constitution.
The conditions for engaging in so-called "Collective Self Defense" are so vaguely defined that they amount to a blank check for Japanese military action and waging war, and the bottom line is that many Japanese now believe that Abe is more of a threat to Japan than China or North Korea. Even with the threats from those two neighbouring countries, it appears that by a vast margin they fear Abe even more - and so they should!
Strangely and sadly, Washington has welcomed Abe finally achieving what it has been pressuring Japan to do for the past half century. There appears to be little concern to Americans that Abe’s underhanded methods discredit his constitutional coup and demean Japanese democratic principles; as usual, for America - the end justifies the means!
Isn't it also worthy of note how much the US Gov't. has changed in its stance towards Japan? Pres. Roosevelt - also a Democrat - said in two parts of his famous speech to Congress when referring to Japan's unprovoked and surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the other areas in Asia, "... always will our whole nation remember the character of this onslaught against us", and further on, "... we will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us". With the postwar formation of Japan's "formerly pacifist" constitution, that was assured - but not anymore!
Now it seems that Pres. Obama and the US gov't. are pleased that Japan is able to take up arms and go to war again, and it appears that the US has forgotten about that "onslaught against us", and has just opened the door so that Japan can once more "endanger those it does not like or agree with, or worse yet, engage in its territorial demands in the Pacific by military means and force". Japan's Right Wing extremist gov't hasn't really changed at all in their stance since WWII and Abe is seeking to bring even more of the old ways back again. How soon we forget the past - are we destined to repeat it? Now, just watch those islands disputed by Japan and China, Korea and Russia in the days to come!
July 1, 2014, the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the SDF, will go down in history as a watershed in postwar Japan, a 21st century "day of infamy" when Abe hijacked democracy by renouncing Article 9 and the nation’s pacifist postwar order in an unscrupulous manner, achieving by fiat what he didn’t dare try through established constitutional procedures. Apparently Abe fears the people as much as they fear him. Read the article by Jeff Kingston here...
June 25, 2014 - Spring-Summer 2014 Society Newsletter uploaded to the site. Click here or go to the Society Section and click on the newsletter in the Newsletters box.
May 20, 2014 - Collection of articles and reports on Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing Gov't. and their return to former WWII attitudes and the downfall of Japan's democracy under this regime. Click here to read the articles which are constantly being updated.
March 3, 2014 - Addition of the "Remembrance Day at Kinkaseki" slide show - link on the homepage and story in the Articles & Stories Section.
March 2, 2014 - Update to "Asian War Graves and Memorial Photos Available Free" article in the Articles & Stories Section and on the homepage.
February 13, 2014 - Updates to almost all of the articles and stories in the Articles & Stories Section with more information as well as addititional and enlarged photos. In particular the articles on the hellships, the further Japanese atrocities and the memorial to the American airmen at the old Taipei Prison, the Other Commonwealth POWs and the forgotten South Africans.
January 20, 2014 - Addition of the new "Taiwan POW Camps Tour" page to the website. See the main menu on the left side of the homepage.
January 2, 2014 - Update to the "Shirakawa POW Camp" listing in the Camps section.
January 2, 2014 - Update to the article "The Memorials for the Taiwan POWs" - to include the new Shirakawa POW Memorial - in the Articles & Stories section.
December 2, 2013 - "17 Years of Researching, Remembering and Honouring the Taiwan POWs" - in the Articles & Stories section.
We would like to remind our viewers that this is a work in progress so be sure to check back often.
In 2009 six former Taiwan POWs returned to Taiwan to join in the annual Remembrance Day service at Kinkaseki. Society supporter and good friend Chen, Hsiao - Fang produced a slide show of the event and we invite you to watch it and remember these men to whom we owe a debt that can never be repaid. Click here to view the presentation.
Lest We Forget!
LISTEN TO THE POWS' STORY
Society director Michael Hurst is featured in two radio interviews with Radio Taiwan International. We invite you to:
To listen to these programs click the links below -
Do you need a photo of a loved ones' grave or name on a memorial in the Far East?
Welcome to the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP.
We are a group comprised of FEPOW organizations and researchers located in the Far East and we are dedicated to providing good quality photos of war graves and the names on the various memorials from the war cemeteries located all across Asia - FREE OF CHARGE - with the sole aim of keeping the memory of the veterans alive, so present and future generations will not forget the sacrifices they have made so far from home.
We specialize in photos of the names on all the memorials across Asia. We have all 25,000 names on the SINGAPORE / KRANJI MEMORIAL, all 27,000 names on the TAUKKYAN / RANGOON MEMORIAL, as well as all the other memorials such as SAI WAN, YOKOHAMA and LABUAN. We are happy to be able to supply names from all the memorials as well – FREE of CHARGE!
Read More ...to find out further information on the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP, the war cemeteries and memorials covered, and the other services that are provided - FREE OF CHARGE!
We are pleased to announce that since the creation of the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP in JULY 2012, we have distributed over 12,300 FREE war grave and memorial photos!
Another great source for FREE worldwide War Grave & Memorial photos . . .
An excellent organization in the UK with a website offering thousands of FREE war grave and memorial photos worldwide is British War Graves - War Graves Photographs. Founded and operated for over 10 years by Mick McCann in the UK, the site provides free photos for almost all the world’s war cemeteries and more.
Click here for more information on free war grave and memorial photos and to visit their website.
The Society is urgently seeking information regarding the Taiwan POWs who were evacuated on September 6, 1945 on the aircraft carrier USS Santee CVE-29, and the Destroyer Escorts USS Brister DE-327 and USS Finch DE-328. We are trying to compile lists of the men transported to Manila on these ships and have been searching various archives to try to find the ships' deck logs, but so far nothing has turned up. If there are any former crew members of these ships who know of the lists that were made and where they might now be, please kindly get in touch with us.
We would also like to hear from former POWs and their families if they have any knowledge that their relative or anyone they knew sailed on any of these three ships. We would be very grateful for any help we can get.
USS Santee - CVE-29 USS Brister - DE-327