Filipineses


Multi-cultural groups appeal to Japan: Keep Article 9 intact in the spirit of peace
July 18, 2009, 7:05 pm
Filed under: history, news | Tags: , , , ,
July 9 press conference for the signing of an open letter appealing to the visisting Japanese Emperor and Empress to help uphold Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

July 9 press conference for the signing of an open letter appealing to the visisting Japanese Emperor and Empress to help uphold Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

Philippine war veterans of BC among signatories

by Alegria Imperial

“Help bring healing and justice to the victims of atrocities committed by Japan before and during the Asia-Pacific War, help endeavours to keep Article 9 intact in the spirit of peace.” Thus appealed members of multi-cultural groups in Canada to the Japanese Emperor and Empress in an open letter to their highnesses on their recent visit to Canada.

Article 9 is a clause in the National Constitution of Japan that prohibits an act of war by the state. The Constitution came into effect on May 3, 1947, immediately following World War II.

 

The official English translation reads: “ARTICLE 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potentials, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

 

The signatories from left seated: Florchita Bautista, Satoko Norimatsu, Thekla Lit, Marlene LeGates; standing from left: Tatsuo Kage, Fernando P. Salanga, Kevin Sung

The signatories from left seated: Florchita Bautista, Satoko Norimatsu, Thekla Lit, Marlene LeGates; standing from left: Tatsuo Kage, Fernando P. Salanga, Kevin Sung

Signatories of the open letter, which Thekla Lit Canada co-chair and BC president the Association of Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA) initiated and presented in a press conference on July 9, are: Tatsuo Kage, member, Human Rights Committee of Japanese Canadian Citizens Association, Satoko Norimatsu, founding director, Peace Philosophy Centre, Florchita Bautista, committee member, Migrante, BC and Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Marlene LeGates, Ph. D., acting president, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Vancouver, and Kevin Sung director, Korean Drama Club Hanuree represent the Japanese, Chinese, Korean and European multi-cultural communities in Canada. 

 

While the emperor has no power under the constitution, his persuasive powers are still widely recognized as the letter cited: “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.” 

 

Specifically, the letter urges “ such redress offered 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.”  The appeal of the signatories “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” comes in the wake of yet unconfirmed talks with the US and Russia for Japan to possibly re-militarize or re-arm, being a neighbour of nuclear-armed North Korea, according to Satoko Norimatsu.

 

Tatsuo Kage, in his brief introduction of himself revealed that he and the emperor being born in the same year spent the same boyhood, marrying about the same time as well. Now as a citizen of Canada, he has joined other voices pressing for Japan for redress of its atrocities. In a statement cited by Thekla Lit during the 2000 “Day of Peace in the Pacific” celebration, Kage felt the Japanese should consider how “Japanese Canadians had got their redress from the Canadian government for their unjust internment during WW II and so they know how important redress is for victims and survivors.”

 

Florchita Bautista, recalled how her father was incarcerated and tortured by the Japanese for refusing appointment to be a “puppet governor” of his province during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. Having witnessed the cruelty the Japanese inflicted on her father, Bautista talked of her “deep hatred” for the Japanese. Until one day as a nun (she has left the convent since), sharing her feelings with another nun, her roommate, Bautista found peace—that other nun, a Japanese, turned out to be General Yamashita’s niece who asked forgiveness.

 

In a statement he read before signing the letter, Fernando Salanga said, “War never dies with its heroes or its traitors. It is never forgotten for a reason. And the reason is for us to learn and be able to attain peace. But peace has some requirements, if you may, like what we are clamouring in this letter we

Fernando P. Salanga signs the letter while Marlene LeGates look on.

Fernando P. Salanga signs the letter while Marlene LeGates look on.

are signing today … Peace in the world may still be a dream but not the peace we have long hoped for from World War II. That war united us in the struggle for freedom, may its memories strengthen us for peace.” Like Bautista, the Japanese also executed Salanga’s father on the spot for refusing “to bow,” which however, Salanga failed to mention during the press conference.

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