Subject: Japan Coalition: Petition to PM Koizumi on his visit to E Timor

The following petition was handed over to the Cabinet Secretary today.


Dear Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro,

We are a network of Japanese citizens' groups formed in 1988 to support the East Timorese people's right of self-determination.

As you are doubtless aware, your upcoming visit will be the first by a Japanese prime minister to East Timor and thus is of special significance. We suppose that you will be congratulating the people of East Timor on their achievement of independence on May 20, and promising the continued support of Japan for the peace and development of the new nation.

But we who have followed the East Timor issue over the years are saddened by the fact that Japan has yet to make amends for its unlawful occupation of East Timor for three and a half years during World War II, and for the sacrifices that this imposed on the people. When we ourselves visit East Timor and speak to the people, we often hear about the suffering that the inhabitants endured during that war. The people still carry vivid memories of that time, and even now, after nearly sixty years, they have yet to hear any words of consolation for the sacrifices forced on them.

To this day, the East Timorese people have never had any apology from Japan for its illegal occupation of their land and for the cruelties under many forms that were committed by the Japanese troops there during that time. Japan has never even offered an explanation of how it might try to compensate for that past.

Former comfort women in East Timor have begun speaking out on what they endured, and younger Timorese have joined hands with survivors to ask Japan to make amends.

East Timor leaders might not throw up this issue at a prime minister coming all the way from Japan to congratulate them on independence. In fact, these leaders even tried to silence people who had begun to raise their voices about this issue. But does that make it right for Japan, which inflicted the suffering on East Timor, to smugly sit on the red carpet rolled out for it on this occassion and pretend not to see anything? Would you yourself consider that there was "no problem" because you saw that these people who were not even able to seek redress for this past for fear of displeasing Japan, from whom they stand in need of assistance?.

We believe that Japan should itself take the initiative to make up for its past misdeeds, and take measures to compensate, without having to be told to do so by the East Timorese. If it cannot act in such a manner, Japan will never earn the respect of other Asian countries.

In this regard, we appeal to you to undertake the following on this forthcoming visit to East Timor:

1. To apologize, in your capacity as prime minister, for Japan$B!G(Js occupation of East Timor during World War II and for the cruelties committed under that occupation, and to commit Japan to take appropriate measures to compensate.

2. To take the time to listen to the victims of Japan$B!G(Js occupation, particularly the woman who were forced to become sex slaves, and the NGOs who are supporting them.

In conclusion, we wish you a safe journey.

Free East Timor Japan Coalition (Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagano, Nagoya, Osaka, Okayama, Zentsuji, Shimonoseki, Oita, Nagasaki and Catholic Council for Justice and Peace)

(The Free East Timor Japan Coalition was a founding member of, and first secretariat for, the International Federation for East Timor (IFET), an international NGO affiliated with the United Nations Department of Public Information that worked for a peaceful settlement of the East Timor issue and that, in 1999, carried out the largest international observer project for the UN sponsored referendum in East Timor.)

Contact address: Osaka East Timor Association Kokubunji Bldg. 6F 1-7-14 Kokubunji, Kita-ku Osaka 531-0064 Japan Tel: 81-6-6354-6620

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