An Imperial Japanese Army veteran planning to speak overseas about Japan’s wartime atrocities in Asia left for Canada on Thursday, despite a warning he would be denied entry, according to his trip organizer.
Yoshio Shinozuka, a former member of biological warfare unit 731, left Narita airport Thursday afternoon for Toronto, said Kohken Tsuchiya, a lawyer and leader of the group organizing the tour.
The Canadian Embassy informed Shinozuka on Tuesday that he is banned from the country due to his involvement in crimes against humanity during World War II.
Shinozuka intended to tour Canada and the U.S. with two other former soldiers.
Shinozuka and an 86-year-old witness of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre received a similar warning from the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday. The Nanjing witness later canceled due to health concerns.
Takemitsu Ogawa, a former army surgeon who left for Canada with Shinozuka, was told by the Canadian Embassy he would have to provide proof he was not involved in the wartime atrocities to enter the country.
According to Tsuchiya, Canadian supporters will be waiting for Shinozuka at the airport in Toronto to negotiate his entry permit.
The three were invited to participate in a traveling exhibition titled “The Forgotten Holocaust in Asia and the Pacific,” organized by the San Francisco-based Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia.
Considering the purpose of the tour, it is truly unreasonable to refuse entry, Tsuchiya said. He added that Shinozuka was investigated by China after the war and sent home without indictment, and that he should not be treated as a war criminal.
Tsuchiya said he hopes Canadian authorities will reverse their decision and approve Shinozuka’s entry. Considering his advanced age, it will be the last chance for Shinozuka to speak about his wartime experience overseas, he added.
The exhibits will be held in five cities in the U.S. and Canada, including Toronto, New York, and San Francisco, between June 25 and July 6.
The group also plans to display graphic photos and documents on the activities of Unit 731, a detachment in Manchuria that conducted vivisections and other medical experiments on prisoners of war and civilians.
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