7 am Watching the news out of Israel. It is fate that I am not there. I opted for this trip and my kids are happier that am in China. Some reflective notes. I have spoken with young Chinese students who are with us at each location. One gil “D” is an interpreter she is 30 years old. I asked her about censorship etc and she agrees that things ae censored but also talks about the ‘freedoms’ people have. However the increase in Western type life has caused a great divide between rich and poor- at least here in Shanghai. The irony is also that the big factories that make everything we as Americans consume, not located in Shanghai proper ,, often have strikes and complaints about conditions and wages. These are the same concepts that were dispelled by the Cultural Revolution yet they are sometimes arrested for striking. She also said they do not have CNN at home it is something in the hotels. Facebook and Google are blocked BUT there are ways around it! The river cruise had an obvious intention of impressing visitors with its over the top light display and use of technology.
Pollution is terrible. I was coughing and felt a tightness in my chest a few times. The scooters are everywhere, cars jostling for space. One does not need a license for a scooter- sometimes three peole pile onto a small scooter. One needs to be vigilant crossing streets because the scooter just plow into you!
Yesterday I had my first experience with the mosquitoes! After the rain we were leaving the University and they wanted a group shot. In minutes we were swarmed by hungry mosquitoes. I had bites all over my legs in seconds.
I am very impressed , however, with the warmth, kindness and pleasant feeling of the local people here.
Yesterday we visited East China University of Political Science. We were in a huge meeting room . On the tables were bowls of Lychee nuts, and we had fruit and water supplied. Professor Wang- Deputy of the International Law school discussed National Human Rights Laws ( I found this paradoxical in this country of Communism and a history of human rights violations). He stressed the fact that WWII ended 70 years ago and that we must continue to remember it- especially the civilians that lost their lives. Issues still are outstanding and very complex. While we were being filmed by Beijing TV, The professor went on to discuss the issues of the forced labor survivors and the law suits that they tried, in vain, to persue for compensation by the Japanese government.
Professpr Gan Jianiang continued ( IN Chinese) to discuss the plight of the laborers. The core was plunder natural resources in NE China for military and turn Manchuria into abigs arms warehouse, SO one would need a lot of labor to do this. The Japanese used recruiting tricks to force Chinese into forced labor. It was a miserable life. Many were killed or maimed.
Sept 1933 Kwanting arms set up committee and cooperation with Dado company to grab and trick laborers. Companies known to use the forced labor : Obayashi, Daido, Otsumi, Shimizu, Mitsubishi. It reminded me of the many companies in Germany ( Bayer, Mercedes-Bemz etc that did the same),
1943- Japanese invaders establish ‘corrective counseling’ and arrested prisoners of conscience and those of economic offenses. They were sent to mines and were not paid. By use of coercion 6.9 million people in China anlong with families and totaling 9,5 millions used for forced labor. Manchikuo Japanese also secretly massacred 1.2 million laborers. After Japan armed occupation of Manchuria 9-18-31 Japan built 17 huge secret places in Mongolian border to kill and concentrate people. Hidden in the mountains little is known about what went on there but corpses of Chinese in mass graves have been found and excavated. Concentration camps established people sent to NE Japan. Japanese plundered supplies and people. Many Japanese men were in army so there was a need for labor. 11-16-42 Japan Tojo cabinet make model resoluti9on. It was necessary to move to mainland China in order to promote Great East Asia.
1944-45 161 groups of 41,762 people forced to Japan. 38,117 actually assigned to filled jobs. Many died before they arrived; many of the forced laborers were under 15 years of age. Mortality was over 15%.T
After the war treaties were made that did not help the survivors.
The San Francisco treaty of 1951 2 years after China became Communist was manipulated by the USA. The mainland government of China was not invited to take part in the treaty, Taiwan was invited as representative of China. The Taiwanese government waived he right of the individuals of mainland China. Tawian signed the agreement wanting to be the “big guy” representing China. Taiwan lacked power and was not allied with USSR as China was. Hence the USA wanted to have Taiwan at the table.
The treaties were used to absolve the cases ofindiviuals.
Attorney Kang Jiax has spent many years trying to being cases of comforst women to trial in Japan. She has often spent her own money to accompany those survivors who came forward and wanted to file suits . he Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan drafted over 1 milion people into forced labor, which was documented. The youngest 11 the oldest 78 is documented, however many were not listed. Kang Jiax shared two stories of horrific torture endured by two forced laborers.His case went as fas as the Supreme Court of Japan but was dismissed because of the SF treaty which denied the right to bring individual cases to court. Another story was about a man conscripted to work for Mtsubishi mines. He was 210 when taken and is now 93. He has yet to receive any compensation.
The ongoing theme of dehumanization was clear here as well as the Holocaust. One example was shared about Chinese laborers forced to be naked in front of Japanese women guards and told o submerge into vats of disinfectant. If they did not submerge the women guards would beat them. They had no means to dry themselves and had to put on wet clothing. In one year 11% of the forced laborers in the Mitzubishi mines dies.
Although many documents emerged about the forced laborers not until 1994 were they used. Many victims had no idea were they were sent or which company they worked for, Once the reports emerged more survivors filed law suits, Pressure was put on the Foreign Affairs dept of Japan to release the information. In july 2003 it was finally released. The excuse for not releasing them earlier was that they docum,ents had not been found, 15 law suits were filed in 12 different courts, Only 4 cases won in the district level BUT were ALL defeated. The corporations denied the claims- unlike in Germany where to this day companies pay reparations to Holocaust survivors. In 2007 there were 5 cases in the courts again all defeated in the High court. The excuse being that the treaty (SF) absolved the rights pf individual to bring suit against Japan. The ones that did win were done so with special conditions: they could make no further claims, no apology would be forthcoming, and a onetime payment of the equivalent to USD6,000. As late as Feb 2014 cases have been filed; this time in Beijing courts .
The last presenter was a distinguished scholar Bu Ping. He spoke about the chemical weapons used by Japan and those left behind. Instead of explosives inside these bombs there were chemicals. After WWI due to the deaths of over 1 million from poison gas, the practice was banned by the Treaty of Versailles.
After the war chemicals in containers collected by USA were dumped in the ocean without knowing what damage it can do in the future. Japan used chemical weapons in China during WWII against the treaty of Versailles. China had none. He problem of what to do with the chemicals and bombs left behind became a big problem which continues today. Many workers became victims when they came in contact with the chemicals and weapons. In 2003 many were hurt by the excavation of these weapons, They victims developed open sores, ulcers etc. Plans to clean up the weapons was to complete by 2007 but it could not be done now the date is 2017.There are over 400,000 bombs that are still in China and need to be disposed of.
Ping discussed how everyone knows about Hiroshima but few until ten years ago knew of te chemicals left in China. His opinion is that Japan identifies as a victim of WWII, some even say how e=they were both perpetrators, using the chemicals, and victims of them as well. He discussed that lack of untiy to resolve matters sch as this because Asians consider themselves separately: Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, yet Europeans consider themselves European. Germany and France have worked collaboratively on history books, as well as Israel and Palestine. Unification through textbook is Pings vision and he has published a book called “A History to Open the Future” about Japan and China. Japanese must know what happened in China prior to what happened in Hiroshima in order to ever have a dialogue.
It has taken three years to clear up 36,000 left behind chemical bombs and there are 400,000 yet to be done. The cost of doing this is being paid by Japan.
This morning on CNN ironically , was a story “China puts spotlight on WWII crimes” It seems that several Japanese soldiers have just now confessed about war crimes in China. We are presently on the bus headed for Nanking- the site of mass murder of Chinese. When discussing China and Japan; one cannot separate politics from History. The reporter, reporting from the Nanking museum also mentions that China has ‘conveniently’ left out their part in the violation of human rights focusing on the issue of atrocities against Chinese people.
After all this information I am posting photos of life in Shanghai. Including photo of "Marriage Brokers" in Peoples park ( last photo)