Hanaoka Incident survivors mark anniversary in China

Kyodo

Chinese survivors of a 1945 uprising at a Japanese wartime labor camp joined relatives of those who died in the incident in Beijing on Thursday to mark the 60th anniversary of the so-called Hanaoka Incident.

Around 200 people participated in the event, including Japanese supporters of the survivors. It was the first commemorative event for the incident to be held in China, according to organizers.

“Forced labor is a crime that the Japanese government, military and businesses jointly carried out on the Chinese people, and the Japanese government has a direct, grave and unavoidable responsibility,” survivor Wang Zhenglu, 86, said in a speech. “When I think of the horrifying incident and our friends who lost their lives, I cannot stop the tears from coming to my eyes.”

On June 30, 1945, Chinese at the labor camp near a copper mine in Odate, Akita Prefecture, staged an uprising against Japanese supervisors who imposed cruel working conditions on them.

Five supervisors were killed, while more than 400 Chinese forced laborers are thought to have been killed when or after the uprising was put down, or some as a result of severe working conditions.

Kajima Gumi, predecessor of construction contractor Kajima Corp. that conscripted Chinese laborers for river works and other projects near the then Hanaoka copper mine, reached an agreement with a group of survivors and relatives of the deceased in November 2000 to set up a 500 million yen fund to compensate victims of the camp.

Thursday’s event was organized by the fund’s managing committee.

A screen was set up at the hall where the event was held to show the participants a webcast of another memorial that was being held in Odate.

Participants of the Beijing event included about 130 survivors and relatives of the deceased from provinces including Hebei, Henan and Shandong, according to the organizers.

Liu Dongjuan, whose now-deceased father was involved in the uprising, said the agreement that resulted in the fund does not put an end to matters.

“We urge the government of Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi to . . . deeply reflect on the Hanaoka Incident and deal with it,” Liu said. “We will continue to pursue a resolution to the crimes committed by Japanese militarism, no matter how long it will take.”

The event was held a day after a group of survivors visited the Japanese prime minister’s office to submit a letter demanding an apology and compensation from the Japanese government.

The letter, which was submitted together with a petition featuring 230,000 signatures, also called on the Japanese government to conduct a full investigation into the incident and make its results public.