Subject: Statement at the 60 th Anniversary of Japanese Invasion

Dear all,

Below is a statement we issued on 20 Feb, and 3 people took it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan on 21th Feb. FYI.

Kyo Kageura


February 20, 2002

Exactly 60 years ago today, on February 20, 1942, the Japanese army invaded Portugese Timor (Portugal was neutral during the Second World War). During its occupation, the Japanese army killed and abused many East Timorese for allegedly assisting the battalion of Australian Allied troops that had landed there before the Japanese. It also used the East Timorese as forced labor to construct military roads and barracks, and requisitioned their crops and livestock to feed its troops. Even worse, it set up "comfort stations? everywhere it stationed forces on the island, and forced East Timorese women to work there as sex slaves against their will. Some of these forced laborers and sex slaves died from malnutrition and disease.

As East Timor moves toward independence, we wish to express our deep remorse to the East Timorese people, who still suffer from wounds inflicted by the Japanese army. The Japanese government must make sincere amends for Japan's past actions as soon as possible, by making a formal apology and paying reparations and compensation.

After the Second World War ended, Portugal called on Japan to pay reparations, but in the absence of continuing pressure from Portugal the Japanese government conveniently shelved the issue. It goes without saying that East Timor was not in any condition to request reparations itself from the Japanese government during the postwar period.

When the Indonesian government of former President Suharto invaded East Timor, Japan supported the invasion. It shamelessly supported the corrupt Suharto dictatorship economically and politically, while treating the East Timorese very cold-heartedly. We, who have been acting to change the Japanese government's policy towards East Timor, deeply regret that the Japanese government has failed to show any remorse about this.

Now, the Japanese government intends to dispatch an Engineering Unit of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces (SDF) to East Timor. We oppose the SDF dispatch on principle as it violates the Japanese peace constitution. In addition, specifically in relation to East Timor, we believe that it is immoral to dispatch the SDF as the Japanese government has not yet formally apologized to the East Timorese, or paid reparations or compensation. The cost of the SDF dispatch amounts to 6.4 billion yen, which is equal to about one-sixth of East Timor's revenue, 45 billion yen, for the 2001/2002 fiscal year. The private sector would be able to do the same work as the SDF is undertaking for a much lower cost. The SDF will also not create any local jobs despite the fact that East Timor currently has a serious unemployment problem.

In East Timor, local NGOs have jointly and repeatedly issued statements opposing the SDF dispatch, pointing out that the Japanese government has not taken any action to compensate the East Timorese for the damage it inflicted on them during the Second World War. At the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal held in Tokyo in December 2000, two East Timorese women testified about their experiences as "comfort women". This was the first time that East Timorese women had given public testimonies as survivors of Japan's military sex slavery. We were deeply moved by their courageous action, and deeply saddened to see that they are still suffering from the Japanese military's disgusting behavior half a century after the event.

Japan's past actions must be properly investigated, and justice properly served in a manner coinciding with the wishes of the victims. The Japanese government, if it claims to celebrate the independence of East Timor, should formally and sincerely apologize to the East Timorese about what it did in the past, and pay compensation to the victims as soon as possible. Many of the victims are very old, and only a very short time is left for Japan to take proper action to recover its honor.

Signed by:

Free East Timor Japan Coalition
Pacific Asia Resource Center
Catholic Bishops Conference East Timor Desk


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