Counter-conference addresses Japanese aggression against neighboring nations

06 September 2001 | While dignitaries from around the world meet this week to observe the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Peace Treaty, a group of campus scholars is holding a four-day international “counter-conference” highlighting Japan’s wartime aggression against other Asian nations.

“Fifty Years of Denial: Japan and its Wartime Responsibilities” — co-sponsored by the campus’s Asian American program, the Department of Ethnic Studies, and the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition of San Francisco — will be held in San Francisco’s Japantown, Thursday, Sept. 6 through Sunday, Sept. 9.

The conference highlights atrocities committed by the Japanese military between 1937 and 1945, when Japan invaded 14 Asian countries. Victims of these incursions included the survivors of the infamous Rape of Nanking and the Bataan Death March, “comfort women,” POWs, individuals forced into slave labor and victims of chemical/biological warfare.

Ling-Chi Wang, professor of Asian American Studies, who witnessed Japanese brutality as a 6-year-old boy in China, is spearheading the event.

By bringing together scholars and researchers from Asia and the United States, conference organizers hope to help Asian American communities deal with their past and to “call attention to Japan’s recalcitrance in acknowledging its unresolved wartime responsibilities,” says Wang. They also hope to remind the U.S. government “of obligations to insure both justice and human rights for all the victims of Japanese aggression.”

Sharing the podium will be some 80 speakers, including writers, lawyers, activists, scholars, and war-time victims and eyewitnesses to atrocities. Among them are U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose); authors Iris Chang, Jintaro Ishida, and Hildi Kang, who have written respectively about China, the Philippines and Korea under Japanese occupation; and a lawyer suing in U.S. Federal court on behalf of POWs, “comfort women” and slave laborers.

The event begins at 1 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Radisson Miyako Hotel, 1625 Post St., San Francisco. For information, see and click on “50 Years of Denial” under “Current Announcements.”


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