Tamajao 241 by Ernest Warwick

Seeking Justice - Japan 1998

by Ernest Warwick

In May of this year Emperor Akihito of Japan and his Princess came to Great Britain on a state visit. Whilst here he was taken to Buckingham Palace to receive from the Queen the Order of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry in this Country.

Throughout Great Britain many thousands of World War 2 widows, orphans and relatives of those who died as a direct result of the evil Japanese cruelty, together with those of us Far Eastern prisoners of war who have survived thus far, feel that we have been badly let down. Betrayed by people in high places who wish to applaud the visit of the Emperor.

Emperor Akihito's father was the God Emperor Hirohito in whose name the wartime atrocities were carried out. He was a war criminal and second only to Adolf Hitler. In view of this Hirohito should have been brought to trial and executed, as was the then Prime Minister, Tojo.

Clearly I realize that the present generation were not born when the atrocities took place and Emperor Akihito was not responsible for his father's crimes. However, he is now the head of the state of Japan, he alone could make the most profound public and personal apology for his Country's wartime guilt. Until he does, he will merit no honour from all of us who have suffered.

He should also freely offer generous compensation to the widows, orphans and Far Eastern prisoners of war, only then should reconciliation come to pass.

Japan is a very wealthy country and it can well afford to pay compensation to the widows, orphans and surviving prisoners of war. Nothing can make up for the cold-blooded executions by both the sword and the bullet, or for the appallingly brutal torture and inhumane ill treatment that we suffered.

The fact that so many years have passed does not excuse the failure to pay up, to honour the debt. Japan owes us in the names of so many thousands of helpless, sick and starving young prisoners who died without any mercy during World War 2 in the grim Japanese prisoner of war camps. Japan still has a lot to learn about basic human rights and dignity.


Some of the survivors of the Siam-Burma railway shortly after liberation.


It is now over 50 years since the end of World War 2 and there has only ever been one feeble attempt at an apology by the Japanese for their horrific torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners of war.

As an ex Japanese prisoner of war and a survivor of the jungle death camps in Thailand,  for me and my comrades who suffered, Japans so called apology means nothing. It certainly is not enough.

I would remind the World that it was Japan, who without a declaration of war, attacked Pearl Harbour in the Pacific Ocean killing thousands of innocent American women and children, the families of American servicemen living on the Hawaiian Islands.

This was rapidly followed by their ruthless blanket bombing methods killing many thousands more in Hong Kong, The Philippines and Singapore. These then are the Japanese who complain about the two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which then stopped the war that they had started!

I have been asked to give my reaction to the Emperors speech at the state banquet. Knowing the Japanese, I was not surprised by what was said.

We were betrayed by the so-called 1951 Peace Treaty in San Francisco, which absolved Japan from any further claims against them. Ever since that time we survivors have been repeatedly swept under the carpet by successive Governments. We still wonder why? Politics, money, trade? Maybe also the shame of how we were let down in Singapore in 1942 with no air support, no fortress, only the "naked island"!

Some of today's young people may find it difficult to understand why it is that we war veterans are protesting. They go about their daily lives purchasing Japanese products from all kinds of electronic goods to cars, with never a thought for history. They are indeed fortunate that they were not there in the dark days of the war in the Far East and even more fortunate that they did not suffer.

However, it gladdens my heart to see that some youngsters have come forward in deep sincerity to say how grateful they are to be able to live as free people and how much they do understand about the past. They deeply appreciate the sacrifices made by my generation in order that they can now live in peace. As I see the happy youngsters of today with their young families, I realize more than ever that their future was well worth fighting for and may they continue to live in peace.

The long years have passed and our brave young dead cannot speak for themselves. My tears still fall for them and their loved ones who they never returned to see again.

Emperor Hirohito and his warlords were not only guilty of starting the war in the Far East, through their brutal representatives during the construction of the infamous Siam-Burma railway they were wholly guilty of one of the greatest atrocities committed against mankind in the Far East during World War 2.

While we survivors remain on Earth, the same spirit that kept us going in the grim jungle death camps still lives on today.
We will continue to fight for justice till the end of our time.