The iron lady of the last survivors of Japanese occupation in WWII Part 4


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The Last Survivors: Yap Chwee Lan
How Japan Forced Women Into Sexual Slavery

AT the age of 15, girls were pretending to be boys during the Japanese Occupation in Malaya, but Yap Chwee Lan was bravely rescuing the people of Kampung Baru, Johor, all because she could speak Japanese.

“Every night, about seven or eight young girls from the neighbourhood would come to my house to sleep because they felt safer there. They knew I could speak Japanese,” recalled Yap, now 90.

“The Japanese soldiers would come knocking on our door to ask for young girls and I’d respond in Japanese, ‘ Why do you need women? You need housekeepers?’. They were shocked I could speak Japanese.”

Yap learnt the language from her former Japanese employer, who was a hairdresser in Johor. The then 13- yearold picked up the language quickly, and was even treated well by his family.

Yap’s fluency in their language granted her favour in the eyes of the Japanese, and this ordinary girl found herself holding extraordinary power – the ability to save people.

She managed to save those who lived in her town, Kampung Baru, Johor, by identifying them – in Japanese – to the soldiers who would have killed them on suspicion of aiding the resistance.

And we were there to capture her experiences as the R. AGE crew brought her around Johor to film at locations that hold significant memories during the Occupation. This is for The Last Survivors, an interactive online documentary project that aims to raise awareness to youths about the importance of preserving Malaysian World War II stories.

Listening to her stories when he was growing up, one of Yap’s grandson Sebastian Chew, 18, is glad he didn’t have to experience WWII and the Occupation as he thinks it will haunt him throughout his life.

“I can’t imagine going through everything – from the bombings, hiding, living in fear and when the Japanese made the people dig their own graves in one of the fields and killed them. I don’t know how my grandma did it,” he said.

“That’s why I think it’s important for young people to know about these war stories so they can prevent anything of this sort from happening in the future. It’s cruel and heartbreaking.”

In her teenage years, Yap, whose father passed away when she was seven years old, had to work because her family was living in poverty.

She got married when she was 15, and lived with her husband Chiew Seng Leung at his laundry shop, Kedai Dobi Shanghai, in Johor Baru. Twenty days after their wedding, the Japanese started bombing Singapore.

Japanese fighter jets, based in Johor, would fly across to Singapore twice a day to bomb the neighbouring country. As the Japanese was attacking Singapore, lots of people walked over to Johor for safety. Yap and her family evacuated to Tampoi.

“We packed food and clothes, and placed them on my husband’s bicycle. As we were walking to Tampoi, we were stopped by a soldier because he wanted our bicycle. I told him in Japanese that it was ours and he let us through,” said Yap.

“The soldiers would leave you alone if they knew you could speak Japanese because it was like you were one of them. They’ll have more respect for you.”

Once they were in Tampoi, they sought refuge in a temple along with about 50 other refugees, but soldiers came looking for comfort women. Yap not only told them there were none, but also said she was part Japanese, hoping they wouldn’t come back.

But the next day, the Japanese returned. This time, they were with their general.

Yet, Yap wasn’t afraid. “Strangely enough, I wasn’t scared. He was impressed that I could speak Japanese and praised me, saying it was good because I could help the Japanese soldiers,” she said. He proceeded to ask Yap if they had enough food and made sure they did by sending them rice, sugar and flour so they could cook.

He also offered her a job in Singapore as a liaison officer between the Japanese and the locals. She took the job after the island was invaded, but later learned that the Singaporeans she had liaised with were all eventually killed.

The distance was too much for Yap to handle as well, as she didn’t know if her family was well and alive. She returned to Johor one week later, and things were unfortunately similar to what was happening in Singapore.

Chiew’s boss had been arrested, along with a bunch of other people.

“There were black flags all along the streets,” Yap recalled. “It meant everybody was to stay home, because the Japanese would arrest anyone on sight.”

Those who were arrested were taken to a house in Jalan Abdul Samad, behind what is now the Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar, to be held before being taken to Dataran Bandaraya, where they would be executed.

“When I got to the house, the people were kneeling on the ground, their hands tied behind their backs with thick wire as the Japanese soldiers pointed bayonets at them,” said Yap.

“A lot of them called out my name, begging me to save them. Then the Japanese asked if I knew these people.”

“I said, ‘ Yes, I do’. A lot of them lived in my neighbourhood. When I identi- fied them, they were freed.”

The rest, whom she couldn’t identify, weren’t so lucky. Her mother’s friend’s son was one of the unlucky ones.

“I didn’t see him there, I was devastated when I found out. His mother was crying in the street,” said Yap, recalling the horrors of wartime Malaya.

Those remained were brought to the field. They were asked to dig holes in the ground, sit at the edge of the holes and were shot with machine guns. As the bodies fell in, those who were merely injured were kicked into those holes they had dug themselves and buried alive together with the dead.

While a great number of people died during the Occupation, many more owe their lives to Yap.

Her family, though, remained safe, thanks to Yap.

“Before I went to Singapore, the Japanese general gave me a permit for my family,” she said. “He told me, ‘ If anybody disturbs your family, ask them to report to one of my officers’.”

Today, Yap and her family still live in Johor, where some of the survivors’ descendants still recognise her.

“I was walking around town and suddenly someone called out, ‘ Ah Ma!’. They told their kids that I saved their grandfather or grandmother,” Yap said with a laugh.

By VIVIENNE WONG The Star

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Last man standing in Penang under the Kempeitai during WWII Part 3


Working under the Kempeitai in Penang during WWII haunts James Jeremiah to this day.

While filming an episode of Jeremiah brought the crew back to the Wesley Methodist Church in Penang, where he would hear the screams of those torutured there by the Japanese. He had not been back to the church in over 70 years. — HAFrIZ IQBAL/ r. AGE

STARING out to sea on Fort Cornwallis, James Jeremiah cuts a lonely figure.

“Before the fighting started, we were so excited to shoot the Japanese. We had never seen war; we had only seen it in the movies,” said Jeremiah. “But the first time I heard a real bomb, I was scared to death.”

That was at the old Bayan Lepas Airport, where Jeremiah witnessed the beginning of the Japanese invasion of Penang. He was 18 at the time, and a member of the Eurasian “E” company of Penang, a volunteer force similar to the British Home Guard.

“We thought the Japanese would fly in from Batu Maung in the south, but they came in through Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi. I think they knew we were focused on the south.”

The tactic worked. The volunteers mistook the Japanese planes for British fighters, a mistake that almost cost them their lives.

“They turned out to be Japanese Zero fighters. They starting bombing and machine gunning us. Shrapnel was flying everywhere. I cannot even describe the fear we had in our hearts.”

Although they were trained to some extent, the Volunteer Forces ( VF) were not hardened military men.

After the bombing, it was only a matter of time before Japanese ground troops arrived.

Even then, the volunteer forces regrouped at their headquarters on Peel Avenue, and did their best to maintain order.

With the British gone and the Japanese at their doorstep, people were looting ruined houses and bodies were strewn everywhere from the bombing.

“We carried the dead bodies away, assisted the wounded and stopped all looters.

“It’s no joke when you’re in that situation – we just didn’t know what to do,” said Jeremiah.

Things quickly got worse when the Japanese arrived. The Volunteer Forces were rounded up, and the Europeans and fairskinned Eurasians were sent to Singapore to be held as prisoners of war.

“My father had rather dark skin, which I inherited. I think it saved my life!” said Jeremiah.

The remaining VF members were used by the Japanese as guides. Jeremiah’s work ethic as a guide caught the eye of a member of the Kempeitai, the feared Japanese military police.

“Colonel Watanabe took me to his office and asked what work I could do, so I said anything. He asked me to make tea, coffee, polish his boots – things like that.”

The Kempeitai office was located in the Wesley Methodist Church on Jalan Burma. Although he was a mere office boy, the experience was terrifying.

He still lives on Penang island today, a mere 20 minutes from the church – but he has never gone back to the church in over 70 years, until he brought R. AGE there last month to shoot an episode of The Last Survivors ( rage. com. my/ lastsurvivors).

“I used to see people being arrested. I don’t know how, but they were ‘ interrogated’. I used to hear screams, cries… I couldn’t take it,” he said in the video, which is part of a series documenting the stories of Malaysia’s WWII survivors.

Although the brutality of the Kempeitai has haunted many, including Jeremiah, not all the Japanese were cruel overlords.

Watanabe was educated in the United States, and he saved Jeremiah’s life a few times.

The Japanese would hold “trials” at public spaces – including Padang Kota Lama next to Fort Cornwallis – where their local informants would expose other locals who were working against the Japanese.

“( The informants) wore hoods when they pointed people out. The minute they point at you, you’re finished, gone,” said Jeremiah. “The Japanese would round up the public so the informants could point people out.”

Jeremiah thanks Watanabe for saving him from attending the trials, where he believes he could easily have been singled out for execution. “Watanabe protected me. I was so lucky, he was very good to me.”

Some of the informants flaunted their special privilege with the Japanese, according to Jeremiah.

“They would say ‘ don’t mess with us’, so we kept quiet. I remember a famous Eurasian doctor, Doctor J. E. Smith, who was done in by them and, I think, beheaded.”

Even with Watanabe’s protection, the atrocities being committed at the Kempeitai office was too much for Jeremiah to bear, and he asked to be transfered to the railways. The colonel relunctantly agreed.

Watanabe continued showing kindness to Jeremiah even after he started work as a locomotive driver, putting in a good word to his new boss and General Yamashita himself, the mastermind behind the invasion of Malaya. Yamashita had defeated the combined Australian, British and Indian force of 130,000 soldiers with just 30,000 troops.

“Yamashita was riding the train along with Tadashi Suzuki ( an infamous samurai sword- wielding executioner), but I couldn’t understand what they were saying as it was in Japanese,” said Jeremiah. “They noticed that my new boss’ boots were shining, and Watanabe said I was the one who polished them.”

The general made a lasting impression on young Jeremiah, who said the very sight of him made everyone afraid.

“He was very fierce and very dynamic, though very big and chubby. Everyone was afraid. I didn’t dare look him in the eye.”

While many struggled for food during the Occupation, Jeremiah said he was lucky to be paid in both “banana money” – the Japanese currency – and food.

“I used to get about 30 dollars a week, sometimes more. I saved the bread for my parents and if I wanted an egg, I’d ask Watanabe.”

Had he been caught smuggling eggs, the colonel would have beheaded him.

The horrors of the Occupation were a far cry from his pre- war days.

Jeremiah was rotated around a few places, including Fort Auchry ( now a Malaysian army camp), Fort Cornwallis and Batu Maung.

He remembers watching the Europeans and Eurasians boarding ships at Swettenham Pier heading to Singapore, where they believed they would be safe. Winston Churchill had insisted Singapore would not fall.

He was also posted at Batu Maung, a British fort which the Japanese turned into a torture chamber.

He brought the Last Survivors crew there during filming. The original fort remains, but the land is now a privately owned museumcum- theme park, with plastic “ghosts” hanging everywhere and a paintball field attached.

“Everything has changed,” said Jeremiah with a laugh. “I don’t remember any of this being here!”

Jeremiah spent the rest of the war as a locomotive driver. After the war, he worked at the Batu Ferringhi reservoir, where he would retire as a superintendent.

While he experienced many horrors during the war, something beautiful did come out of it. He met his late wife, a former Miss Thailand, during his time on the railways.

“I travelled all the way to Bangkok after the war to find her,” said Jeremiah with a wide smile.

“All I had was her name, as her letters never had a return address.”

Though he lives on, happily surrounded by his children and grandchildren, Jeremiah said young Malaysians need to find out about their grandparents’ experiences.

“War is something that hurts everyone – it’s not like what you see in the movies. They should find out; they need to be told what happened.”

Today, he has outlived all 18 members of the “E” Company, all five of his siblings, and one of his children.

“All my friends and colleagues are now gone. I am the last survivor.”

By Natasha Venner-Pack, The Star

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Malaysian WWII survivors share experience Part 2


 

PETALING JAYA: Stories of Malaysia’s World War II survivors have been coming in from across the country since R.AGE kicked off The Last Survivors, an online interactive video project.

The project aims to get young Malaysians to explore the country’s WWII history through the eyes of its survivors, in line with the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 22.

While some submissions were from the grandchildren or children of survivors, others were written by the survivors themselves.

For example, John Robson, 84, said he started working when he was nine because of the war. He narrowly escaped execution after a bag of rice went missing at his workplace at the Tapah Road railway station.

“The Japanese captain slapped and kicked me. Then he went to his room and came out with his sword. The lorry driver and I were shivering,” Robson recounted.

“I cried and begged for forgiveness. I peed in my pants! Luckily, the captain believed me because he saw how scared I was and let me go with a warning.”

Another survivor, Lim Chung Bee, 93, was held captive in Japan from 1942 to 1946. His daughter Doreen Lim e-mailed R.AGE.

“He was 17 years old then and he experienced it all as a Japanese pri­so­ner of war working in the copper mines for four years,” said Doreen.

“I’ve found photos of him when he and other British soldiers were captured in Java in 1941.”

R.AGE also produced a mini-docu­mentary series on several WWII survivors.

Ethelin Teo, 85, was featured in episode three. She spoke of how she was almost taken as a comfort woman during the Japanese occupation of Kuantan.

Teo was 13 when the Japanese invaded Kuantan. She recalled how Teluk Cempedak, now a popular beach, was used as a killing field and mass grave.

Watch The Last Survivors and read all the WWII stories contribu­ted by the public at age.com.my.

By Vivienne Wong The Star

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Political issues deserve diplomatic solutions to South China Sea disputes


REFERRING to “Ripples and rumbles in South China Sea” (see below) by K. Thanabalasingam, I wish to share a few more points vital to the issue.

Conventional knowledge is that China’s claim to the islands is arbitrary and violates International Law. But what is left out is an impartial overview of the whole situation based on historical considerations and facts on the ground.

Claims made by Vietnam and China are mostly centred on history. The rest of the claimants are late comers after the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco and 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

To avoid complicating the issue, knowledge of history has to be put in perspective. Since there are no “historical titles” to validate, then whatever historical facts, maps or records have to be considered as evidence. At least it sheds light to validate its case.

China has been consistent in her claims since 1279. Marker stones and light houses were on the islands but most were destroyed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Even early European records affirmed Chinese fishermen took annual sojourns on Spratly islands for part of the year.

One interesting event that happened in 1953 involved a Tomas Cloma, (director of the Maritime Institute of the Philippines) who threw away all the marker stones and made a unilateral claim on some Spratly islands and later in December 1974 was forced to sell to the government for 1 peso only, now known as Kalayaan.

All these facts are buried and often not revealed by the West.

The infamous Treaty of San Francisco, also known as Treaty of Peace with Japan, was drafted by US and Allied Powers to settle post-war issues affecting nations. Whatever the circumstances, China/Taiwan and Korea were not invited to attend the negotiations which deprived them of a fair chance and the right to present their cases. This also breached the Cairo/Potsdam declarations.

After the devastating long war, China got the raw end of the deal with unsettled lands and islands. Scholars and historians viewed this as a deliberate manoeuvre by Western Powers especially the US to create ambiguities to serve their covert interests.

I totally agree with Thanabalasingam on the recent statement by the US and Allies to pre-empt the tribunal’s verdict in favour of the Philippines is an act of prima facie and undermines the whole proceedings of the court. That is why under Article 298 of UNCLOS, China declared that it does not accept compulsory arbitral procedures relating to sea boundary delimitation in 2006. Without guessing, one could easily decipher why the Philippine chose the arbitration court.

On the ground, it doesn’t need a military expert to see what’s happening in the region. It is a tussle between China and US with puppets (the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Vietnam) joining in the fray.

The US’s sole interest is to maintain her status quo and dominance in the region. China, a rising power, is a direct competitor. When Obama announced the pivot to Asia in 2012, tensions started building up day by day with increasing deployment of military assets to frightening level.

More bases have been opened to the US in the Philippines, Japan, Australia, and some Asean nations, creating a “ring of fire” to contain China.

To harness support US raises up the heat and false alarms on China’s threat to “Freedom of Navigation”, etc. Do you expect China to remain docile and silent? Freedom of navigation was not an issue for decades. Deliberately intruding into sovereign territory with frigates, spy planes, etc are direct provocations.

Sad to see nations taking sides just to gain a little leverage to support their claims. As far as I can see, these islands are “bread crumbs” created to inflict tension and even wars among nations. Political issues deserve diplomatic solutions. Don’t allow a Middle East or Ukraine crisis in Asia.

I trust my country will take the path of engagement and diplomacy.

By Ali Saw Kuala Lumpur The Sundaily

Ripples and rumbles in the South China Sea

AFTER the conclusion of the 27th Asean Summit and Related Summits chaired by Malaysia here in late November 2015, I felt optimistic the year 2016 might see a lessening of tensions in the South China Sea and perhaps even witness a Code of Conduct being signed between all the claimant states. I suppose this was hoping too much.

What we have seen instead is a rapid increase in tensions caused by China’s actions in the South China Sea. Understandably, claimant Asean states are anxious and concerned over these latest developments.

Since the start of this year, China has conducted several test flights from its airfield in the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands Group. There was also news reports that China had moved an oil rig into disputed waters between China and Vietnam.

This brings to mind the January 1974 Chinese/Vietnamese clash over the Paracel Islands with Vietnam suffering heavy losses and being evicted from the Paracels.

More recently it has been reported and confirmed that China has installed long-range anti-aircraft missiles on Woody Island in the disputed Paracels chain.

This does not auger well for calm and confidence-building between the various Asean claimant states and the Republic of China.

In addition, the occasional reported intrusions of Chinese coastguard vessels into other nations’ territorial waters is cause for concern.

The recent statement by the US and some European nations that China must abide by the decision to be made by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, hearing the Philippines request to invalidate China’s claims, is rather premature in my humble opinion.

The US and other western nations’ statement would have been better coming after the tribunal’s verdict expected sometime near the middle of this year, if it turns out to be in Philippines favour. As it is, I feel the statement pre-empts the tribunal’s verdict.

I had written an article on the South China Sea dispute and stated my personal views in June 2015. I am of the firm belief, based on International Law and UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), that China’s claim to virtually the whole of the South China Sea is arbitrary and unprecedented.

No country has ever claimed such a large expanse of international maritime waters before. There is no provision anywhere that I am aware of for a historical claim, especially when such a claim has never been exercised or enforced until more recent times. China is not only a party to UNCLOS but it has also ratified it. Therefore, China is bound by UNCLOS.

A point to bear in mind is that there are laws and rules to what constitutes an island. Under UNCLOS no shoal or reef can be reclaimed and turned into an island.

A reclaimed land is artificial and not natural. Hence the question of territorial waters or other claims for the artificial island does not arise.

The Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by all members of Asean and the People’s Republic of China on Nov 4, 2002 unfortunately has a number of setbacks. There is also a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). Although this is mainly to avoid any untoward sea incident between US Navy ships and Republic of China Navy (ROCN) ships. I feel that CUES should also be used more by Asean claimant states’ naval ships and the ROCN ships.

Although I am disheartened by the latest developments in the South China Sea, I sincerely hope that these ripples and rumbles do not develop into a full blown hurricane or typhoon.

By Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri K. Thanabalasingam was the third chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy and the first Malaysian to be appointed to the post.Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

The U.S. should keep away from the South China Sea for regional peace

China is forced to deploy defensive facilities on islands in the South China Sea in response to early militarization action from other parties and to the U.S. close-up reconnaissance in this region, said a China’s professor who specializes in international affairs.

Shen Dingli, a professor specializing in international affairs from Fudan University, wrote in a column that if the U.S. expects fewer disputes in the South China Sea, the country should not choose any side and not support those who infringe upon China’s national interests. The U.S. should make those countries withdraw from the region.

Shen stated that the U.S. should reduce its close-up reconnaissance in the region so that China will not need to spare much time to deploy forces in the region.

According to Shen, statements of spokespersons from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense clearly show China’s attitude towards this issue.

First of all, China deploys defensive facilities in order to cope with other countries’ militarization in this area. Secondly, China benefits from freedom of navigation and China is willing to maintain this freedom within the international law in cooperation with ASEAN countries. Thirdly, China urges the U.S. to respect its legitimate interests when it comes to sovereign of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Shen also said that if the U.S. really cares about China’s deployment of radars and missiles on relevant islands, it should reduce the close-up reconnaissance by its missile destroyers and strategic bombers in this area.  By Yuan Can (People’s Daily Online)

US militarizing South China Sea

Compared with the progress Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State John Kerry seem to have achieved on sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, finding common ground to resolve their differences over the South China Sea has proved more difficult.

Just as Wang has stressed, the responsibility for non-militarization of the South China Sea is not China’s alone. The United States should lend an attentive ear to China’s stance.

On Tuesday, at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said China’s deployment of missiles and new radars on its islands and reefs in the South China Sea and its building of airstrips are “changing the operational landscape” in the waters.

The media in the US also hyped up China sending Annihilates-11 fighters to the Xisha Islands. These voices may be a prelude to Washington escalating the flexing of its muscles in the South China Sea.

Yet as a non-regional country, it is irresponsible of the US to intervene in the South China Sea in disregard of the possibility that has emerged that China and the other parties to the disputes in the waters will be able to stabilize the situation rather than let it spiral out of control.

If those in the region were allowed to settle the disputes themselves, the South China Sea would be free from concerns and troubles within the foreseeable future.

It is the US’ direct interventions in the South China Sea that are exacerbating tensions and adding uncertainty.

The US’ provocative signals have seriously increased Chinese people’s sense of urgency to strengthen the country’s military capabilities. When US military vessels and warplanes intruded into the 12-nautical-mile territorial seas around China’s islands and reefs, Chinese people have reasons to believe their country should not remain indifferent even if its military might is still inferior to that of the US.

On issues concerning national sovereignty, the Chinese military will follow the will of its people.- Global Times

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‘The Last Survivors’ recalls Japanese occupation of Malaysia during WWII


Japanese Occupation survivors recount their tales to the new generation

Most of Southeast Asia was occupied during most of World War II by the Japanese. The Japanese captured Southeast Asia very quickly but had not planned very well for occupying it. In many ways the Japanese ruled through violence and repression rather than reasonable and humane governing. Southeast Asians that might have welcomed them as liberators were quickly turned off by Japanese brutality

TRAILER: The Last Survivors R.AGE

PETALING JAYA: It has been 70 years since Japan’s surrender after its occupation of Malaya during World War II, and with each passing year, more stories are being lost due to death and old age. 

R.AGE, an online video documentary team, is hoping to change that with the launch of The Last Survivors (rage.com.my/lastsurvivors), an online video campaign to document the stories of Malaysia’s WWII survivors.

The first video will be released later today, the 70th anniversary of the final signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur confirming Japan’s surrender.

The video shows Omar Senik, 85, revisiting Pantai Sabak, Kelantan where he witnessed the start of WWII in Asia when the Japanese landed in Malaya – an hour before the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

Another WWII survivor featured in the series is Etheline Lee, who was 13 when the Japanese arrived in Kuantan.

Lee recalled how she was forced to watch the execution of locals accused by the Japanese of being “traitors”.

“They made them walk into this jungle and stand near a big hole they had dug, and shot them one by one so their bodies would drop into the hole,” said Lee.

According to her, the bodies were buried at the beach now known as Teluk Cempedak. Some were buried right beneath the beach’s popular fast-food outlets.

“It’s important to document stories like these,” said Chen Yih Wen, one of the R.AGE producers working on the series. “They really are the last survivors, and it isn’t enough to read about what they went through, you have to see it with your own eyes because these are places we walk by every day.” 

The Last Survivors campaign also hopes to encourage young people to document WWII stories from their own communities, especially through the memories of survivors.

To participate, record a video interview with a WWII survivor, and e-mail it to alltherage@thestar.com.my.

The campaign website features an interactive map which will show the exact locations of all the survivors’ stories, so that anyone can visit them and add to the narrative.

To add a story, photo or video to the map, go to rage.com.my/lastsurvivors or e-mail alltherage@thestar.com.my.

> Know any World War II survivors with interesting stories to share of the war in Malaya? E-mail the R.AGE team at alltherage@thestar.com.my .http://rage.com.my/lastsurvivors/ 

Related:  WWII survivors tell their stories | The Last Survivors | R.AGE 

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Great contribution from the Chinese: UN Chief Praises WW2 parade
Sep 6, 2015 UN chief praises parade, China’s great contribution. The world has been saying about Beijing’s grand military parade on Thursday, held to mark the 70th anniversary of China’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese ….Labels: 70th anniversary of the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War , China’s …

WW2 Eastern frontier main battle: China’s V-day parade … 

Sep 3, 2015 China holds parade, vows peace on war anniversary … Japanese Aggression (1937-45) and the end of World War II, China … The events ended with 10 air force formations flying over the square and … Tomorrow, China will be holding a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in…

WW2 Eastern frontier main battle: China’s V-day parade 2015


Xi takes group photos with foreign guests ahead of V-Day parade
Chinese President Xi Jinping took group photos with foreign leaders, government representatives and leading officials of international and regional organizations ahead of a V-Day parade on Thursday morning
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China holds parade, vows peace on war anniversary

Staged a grand parade on Thursday in Tian’anmen Square to mark the 70th anniversary of victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) and the end of World War II, China attracted the world’s attention by showing the aspiration for peace and its determination to safeguard post-war international order.

President Xi Jinping delivered a speech before the parade to call people to commemorate the hard-won peace after years of bloody war that had inflicted heavy losses on China and other countries.

China holds parade, vows peace on war anniversary
Scan the code and check China Daily’s up-to-date full coverage of China’s V-Day parade.

In honoring all the Chinese who perished in the war and those who have contributed to the victory in the deadly conflicts with Japan, the parade is a tribute to history and a call for peace, Xi said.

But he warned that the world is far from tranquil although peace and development have become the prevailing trend.

War is the sword of Damocles that still hangs over mankind. We must learn the lessons of history and dedicate ourselves to peace, he said.

Ravaging through Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania, that war inflicted over 100 million military and civilian casualties. China suffered over 35 million casualties and the Soviet Union lost more than 27 million lives, Xi said.

The victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is the first complete victory won by China in its resistance against foreign aggression in modern times.

This great triumph re-established China as a major country in the world and opened up bright prospects for the great renewal of the Chinese nation, Xi said.

Xi vowed that China will never seek hegemony or expansion no matter how much stronger it may become. He said the country will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, inspected the troops after the speech.

On the Tian’anmen Square, Xi and the first lady Peng Liyuan welcomed honored guests, including 30 national leaders, to watch the parade which involved more than 12,000 military personel as well as veterans and their descendants. Seventeen foreign military teams also took part.

Leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moom witnessed the historical event.

1779 overseas Chinese from more than 120 countries and regions were invited, 5 of them were invited to watch the parade from the Tian’anmen Rostrum, including Chinese American physicist Paul Chu, and business tycoon Lucio Tan.

Opened with a helicopter flying by parading the national flag, the march past lasted for about 50 minutes. 20 military helicopters flew overhead forming the figure 70 to mark the 70th anniversary commemorations. Seven fighter jets flew past, making the world’s longest colored vapor trail.

After more than 300 veterans, including Kuomingtang veterans, and their descendants passed by in two vehicle formations, eleven formations of Chinese troops marched past, including 51 female honor guards. It was the first time female honor guards have joined a parade. More than 50 generals, with an average age of 53, leaded parade units.

Seventeen formations of foreign troops from 17 countries including Russia and Pakistan, marched past, before twenty-seven formations of armaments paraded.

This was the first time foreign military teams join in a Chinese military parade.

http://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf

More than 500 pieces of China’s latest equipment were displayed, 84 percent of which have never been viewed by the public, many of which are among the world’s most advanced.

The navy displayed its latest anti-ship missiles, ship-to-air missiles and carrier-based aircraft, while the air force brought long-range bombers, fighters and airborne early warning and control (AEWC) aircraft.

The armaments on display also included the army’s newest helicopter gunships and battle tanks as well as intermediate-range conventional and strategic ballistic missiles from the Second Artillery Force.

The events ended with 10 air force formations flying over the square and doves and balloons being released.

China has held 15 military parades since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. In 1999 and 2009, grand military parades were held to celebrate the country’s 50th and 60th founding anniversary. This was the first parade not held on China’s National Day.

As it is an international convention to hold a parade to mark the victory day, China held the grand event with a theme of “remember history, cherish the memory of China’s revolutionary martyrs, uphold peace and create the future”.

By PENG YINING in Tian’anmen square (chinadaily.com.cn)

Obama’s absence at parade costs US chance to display leadership

Tomorrow, China will be holding a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War. Dozens of global leaders or their special envoys have arrived in Beijing, save for US President Barack Obama or his high-level representative, who could have been a guest of honor at the ceremony.

The absence of the US president at such an important event is a pity. Washington’s move has also affected most Western European leaders, who decided to follow the US’ lead.

But Washington compromised, and will send US Ambassador to China Max Baucus to the parade, a gesture to show that the US will be present at the event. Washington clearly doesn’t want the absence of Obama or his high-level envoy to turn into media fodder.

While it is a pity, Obama’s absence will hardly affect Sino-US relations. Still, as former allies, China and the US have lost a chance to celebrate the victory they achieved together. How they fought side by side 70 years ago continues to be cherished by the Chinese, and the memory of that time has helped nurture a favorable impression of the US.

Geopolitics remains central to Washington’s decision-making process, and weighs heavily on US diplomatic policy. However, calculated moves do not always lead to a better decision. Washington’s ambivalence to Beijing’s invitation has cost itself a chance to display leadership across the Pacific Ocean, regardless of trivial gamesmanship and bickering in the region. The US seems unable to look at the big picture: The parade in Beijing is a righteous cause.

It is not hard to figure out why Obama or a special envoy will be absent. To some extent, the reasons are understandable. First, the US simply wants to show its support to Japan, which strongly opposes the parade and imagines itself as the target of the event. Second, the US dislikes such large parades in a non-Western country, considering it “muscle-flexing.” Third, as the US election approaches, presidential candidates try to earn brownie points with the electorate through China-bashing. The political climate in the US might have made Obama think twice.

To be honest, China never expected Obama to attend. But his “remedial work,” by asking Baucus to attend on his behalf, is weak.

Many China watchers have differing takes on the US’ attitude toward China’s parade. Some believe Baucus’ presence reaffirms an agreement between China and the US that both countries have no animosity towards each other. But some think Obama’s absence is much more complicated.

The Chinese have learned how to deal with narrow-mindedness, so they don’t actually mind whether Obama or a high-level official from Washington will attend. China’s open mind will help steer both countries away from unnecessary disputes

Source:Globaltimes.cn Published: 2015-9-2 21:11:50

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Abe Statement: Apology, Abapology or Abomb? Crafty rhetoric, insincere politics


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a statement in Tokyo on Friday marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. He acknowledged Japan had inflicted “immeasurable damage and suffering” on innocent people but said generations not involved in the conflict should not be burdened with continued apologies. TORU HANAI/REUTERS

BEIJING, Aug. 14 — As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe releases an official statement later Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of his country’s surrender at the end of World War II (WWII), he is standing at a critical crossroad.

Upon such a highly symbolic and closely watched occasion, Abe has a choice to make, and there is only one way that will lead him and his nation closer to the “normal country” dream he has so frequently shouted from the rooftops.

Choosing a wrong course — or keeping going astray, given his record on the sensitive history issue — will undoubtedly carry the second-term prime minister further away from a legacy in nation-building he so desperately needs, as his signature “Abenomics” is losing sizzle.

Any statement that flagrantly flouts the true history and fails to repent Japan’s WWII atrocities would be tantamount to Abe dropping a bomb upon his country’s international reputation and trustworthiness.

Such an “Abomb” would be particularly sad, as its sole victim would be Japan itself, Abe’s motherland, which is the only country in the world that has been A-bombed and still in the healing.

It would also be extraordinarily irresponsible and destructive, not only because its shock waves would blow the chances for his “normal country” ambition to come true anytime soon, but because its fallout would further ail Japan’s already morbid ties with its neighbors and stoke regional tensions.
If Abe possesses any reasonable level of sobriety, he will not throw an “Abomb” at his own country. Rather, judging from the trial balloons he has released of late, a more likely scenario is that the canny nationalist would offer an adulterated apology.

An “Abapology” — mentioning such key words as aggression and apology but placing them in a context that waters down their meaning, or releasing nuanced versions in different languages — would be regrettable.

Such a half-hearted apology would once again reveal Abe’s deep reluctance to face up to his country’s wartime crimes and take on the noble responsibility on his shoulders in seriously reflecting on the past in order to usher Japan into a world-assuring future.

A muddle-through approach of that kind would be not only unworthy of the great significance of the historic juncture, but indicative of a conspicuous lack of political and historical calcium, which explains to a large extent why Japan remains an “abnormal” country 70 years after WWII.

The only right way forward is for Abe to stop his rightist slide and provide a proper and unalloyed apology — explicit enough to demonstrate heartfelt remorse and a resolve to abandon his erstwhile troublesome attitude toward WWII history and help dispel the specter of distrust between his country and its neighbors.

Yet should history be any guide, even an apparently whole-hearted apology from Abe would not be enough. It is the least he should do. To realize his “normal country” dream and restore Japan’s standing on the world stage, he has to follow up with concrete actions.

By Deng Yushan (Xinhua)

Crafty rhetoric, insincere politics 

(China Daily)

A very cleverly worded speech. An impressive play of the words. That’s about everything we could say about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s latest statement on his country’s unseemly record in World War II.

Abe didn’t seem to deviate much from the well-received benchmark statement in 1995 by then Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama. And the key points of that historic speech, including “aggression”, “colonial rule”, “remorse” and “apology”, did find their way into his speech, though with abundant ambiguity.

For many in his audience, his expression of “heartfelt gratitude” to those who have been tolerant of his country and helped it return to the international community might be an unexpected bonus – not unlike his pledge to “squarely face the history of the past”. That could be why some believe Abe has delivered more than what had been anticipated, given the discrepancies among its versions in different languages.

That East Asia just got around a potentially explosive occasion that could have escalated tensions is itself something to celebrate. For Japan’s vigilant neighbors, however, whether or not Abe included the salient points of the Murayama Statement in his speech is not just a touchstone to gauge his attitude toward history, but the bottom line as well. Once that line is crossed, Japan’s deteriorating ties with neighboring China and the Republic of Korea will slide past a point of no return, at least during Abe’s term in office.

Abe knows what will come next. So, even after provoking neighboring countries no end, he waved olive branches at them requesting meetings at the highest level. He is yet to get one, precisely because of his betrayal of the Murayama Statement’s spirit.

By incorporating the key expressions of that milestone statement, Abe may effectively silence some of his critics, whose latest demand was that his statement include the core Murayama expressions.

But make no mistake, he didn’t present an apology of his own. He merely stated the obvious truth that earlier Japanese cabinets had expressed “heartfelt” apologies for the atrocities committed by imperial Japan.

It would be naive to think the tensions paralyzing East Asia will thus be gone. That Abe didn’t cross the Rubicon, at best, means he was aware of the dire consequences of doing so and avoided it. And, that tremendous public pressure from home and abroad forced him to squeeze those words into his speech doesn’t mean he actually meant it.

Rhetoric counts when dealing with Japanese politicians, for whom whether or not the Abe statement includes those key words makes a difference. Japanese politicians’ infamous tradition of “slip of the tongue”, however, makes it even more important to see how they act.

Abe’s track record belies his claims of commitment to peace and good neighborly relations. That Abe and his advisers had reportedly struggled over whether or not to include Murayama’s expressions, that the ruling parties had not agreed on the exact use of the expressions in the final transcript until the very last moment, that Abe managed to avoid directly referring to Japan’s war as one of aggression and some of the perished Japanese as war criminals, and that his words became evasive when it came to Japan’s colonial rule and the “comfort women” issue all betrayed a sense of reluctance.

Needless to say, reading between the lines of the Murayama Statement and Abe’s speech even a casual reader can feel the difference in tones. In contrast to Murayama’s sincerity, Abe seemed eager to shut out the past, though its sophisticated wording did hit the sentimental sweet spot at some points. But that will not be possible until Abe acts sincerely to achieve real reconciliation.

Therefore, even after weathering an otherwise imminent crisis, East Asia will continue to struggle in the long shadow of history.

Related:

(File photo)Japan, the major aggressor in the Asia-Pacific region since the 1930s, on Saturday commemorated the [Read it]
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a statement in Tokyo on Friday marking the 70th annivers[Read it]
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