|Subject: East Timor NGO letter to Japan on
20 East Timor NGOs sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Japan regarding victims of Japanese Army and proposed dispatch of it (now called Self-Defense Forces) to UN PKF in East Timor. We hope you to circulate this letter widely. We will be happy to receive solidarity messages, comments, critics to share with East Timor NGOs.
For being peace,
Shige "Takahashi Shigehito"
Dili, 8 December 2001
To: The Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Koizumi Junichiro c/o Japan Mission in Dili
CC: UNTAET Administrator, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello Prime Minister, Mr. Mari Alkateri Foreign Minister, Mr. Jose Ramos Horta President of the Constitutional Assembly, Mr. Fransisco Guterres Political Leader of East Timor, Mr. Xanana Gusmao Bishop of the Dili Diocese, Mgr. Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo Bishop of the Baucau Diocese, Mgr. Basilio do Nascimento Leaders of Political Parties The People of East Timor (by means of the mass media)
Re: Commemoration Day of the Commencement of the Pacific War
In remembrance of the Commemoration Day of the Commencement of the Pacific War, we the undersigned below, representatives of non-government organizations in East Timor, would like to convey our aspirations by this letter. The Pacific War which was begun by the Imperial Nation of Japan on 8 December sixty years ago, cost around 40,000 innocent lives in East Timor during the time period of three and half years of the military occupation of the Emperor of Japan. Not only did many East Timorese die, either because they were killed by the Japanese military or the effects of the Pacific War, but there still are victims alive today with wounds, both physical and psychological, such as the comfort women (jugun ianfu), forced labourers and Heiho whose numbers are still unknown.
History is very important in order to build a better future. For that reason, mistakes of the past have to be straighten out before steps can be made forward. If not, human history has already proven similar mistakes will be repeated.
We are aware that Japan is the largest donor nation for the East Timor Trust Fund and has given major attention to the reconstruction of East Timor. And we too would like to express our gratitude for this assistance. However, this assistance may not simply cover up the wounds that have been inflicted by the Japanese military on this land of East Timor. If there is no justice, there can be no betterment of life.
One needs to remember that the government of Japan is not only responsible for the Second World War, but also for its support of the invasion by the Indonesian military in East Timor over the time period of 24 years. For instance, Japan was the largest donor to Indonesia during the Indonesian military occupation. The government of Japan opposed all resolutions (eight times) of the United Nations that challenged the Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor. The trucks that were used to carry the bodies and victims after the Santa Cruz massacre in 1991 were Hino trucks from Japan, and there are more such examples. In our opinion, the reconstruction assistance is the moral obligation of the nation of Japan to the people of East Timor.
According to our view, which is expressed above, we request the government of Japan to give a response/explanation to the following issues:
1. We demand an official apology and compensation from the government of Japan to the people of East Timor so that our people may feel consoled. Those who suffered during the Japanese military occupation are not the political leaders, but ordinary people became the victims. Even though the Foreign Minister of the Transitional Administration, Jose Ramos-Horta once said that "when East Timor is fully independent next year, East Timor will not keep bringing up Japanese government policies from 1942-1945 during the Second World War ..." (STL, 24/8/2001), we nonetheless channel the voices of the victims who are still waiting for justice.
2. According to a report in "Tais Timor", a UNTAET publication (Edition October Vol.2, No.31, page 8), the head of the Japanese parliament delegation, Fumio Kyuma, said "even though a part of the non-government organizations in East Timor oppose the presence of Japanese military in East Timor, they don't represent the view of the majority of the citizens". We would like an explanation of the Japanese government why Mr. Kyuma can conclude that our opinion doesn't represent the view of the majority of the citizens. What does he base such a statement on? We are also shocked that the Japanese parliament delegation would make such a statement, whilst we have not received a response from the Japanese government to our letter to the Prime Minister of Japan, dated 29 August 2001, in regards to sending Self-Defence Forces from Japan.
3. Why weren't these troops sent in September '99, when the people of East Timor really needed help from outside, but suddenly now, after two years, when the security situation has improved. Might there be a hidden agenda behind sending the Self-Defence Forces, which supposedly to help build roads and bridges? For too long we have become a political commodity for foreign countries and don't want to be used again for the agendas of big nations.
4. Should the government of Japan want to assist in building public roads and bridges, this would be better done through regular channels of assistance, rather than sending the Self-Defence Forces. Because if it is done by the Self-Defence Forces, it will be the Japanese troops doing it themselves. The problem of unemployment in East Timor has become one of the major problems. With regular civil assistance, it broadens the employment opportunities and our people could get the opportunity to work. In the process of building public roads and bridges, the Japanese building techniques, which are famous world-wide, would be transferred to East Timor, which would not be the case if this happens through the Self-Defence Forces.
5. As mentioned in our letter dated 29 August 2001, we would like to once again stress that our concept of national security for East Timor is that of diplomacy, backed by military. Remembering the position that Japan has, both politically and economically in the Asia-Pacific region, there are many things Japan could do before sending its troops. For example, pressuring Indonesia to bring to justice the TNI leaders responsible for its human rights violations in East Timor, especially in connection with their scorched earth operations after the referendum two years ago. Such efforts would immensely help not only East Timor, but also Indonesia in the areas of democratization, security stabilization, uphold of laws, improving economy and good governance.
Therefore, we recommend that the government of Japan doesn't send its military to East Timor, before the demands and requests made above are dealt with in a serious manner.
We don't have enough money to help Japan, but our contribution for Japan is to offer the opportunity to uphold justice in Japan, through our demands: which is justice for the victims of the Japanese military.
Thank you for your attention.
1. Jose Luis de Oliveira Yayasan HAK
English translation: by Ms Inge Lempp, The East Timor National NGO Forum.
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