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Memorial service held for Japanese who died in Siberian labor camps

22 Comments

A memorial service was held in Tokyo on Monday to honor Japanese who died in labor camps in Siberia after they were captured by Soviet forces at the end of World War II. On Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's orders, about 575,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians were interned in labor camps.

The ceremony was held at the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery in Chiyoda Ward, where the cremated remains of more than 352,000 unidentified war dead are interred.

The Japanese government estimates that around 55,000 Japanese died in the labor camps due to malnutrition and severe cold. Since 1990, successive Japanese governments have been trying to repatriate the remains, but more than 32,000 remain unaccounted for.

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22 Comments
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If they had been left in Manchuria at the mercy of the Chinese people, none would have survived long.

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

Didn't do too well in the company of this US GI either-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vSf8oMyaN0&t=306s

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I hope Russia has formally apologized.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

Abandoned by their Japanese leaders, the troops of Admiral Otozo Yamada were largely inexperienced conscripts, as the better soldiers and equipment had already been transferred to the Pacific theatre of war, and few battalions were remotely battle ready. They were easily overun and captured by the Russians. As most of the Japanese troops refused to surrender and fought to the death, it was rare for so many to be captured alive,

14 ( +14 / -0 )

I have two late Japanese friends who survived Siberia and one who wrote a book about his experience. Both recalled the very hard times ("worst five years of my life" said one). Yet both bonded with the Russians whose lives were no better than their captors.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Ingvar:

If they had been left in Manchuria at the mercy of the Chinese people, none would have survived long.

Are we talking about the same Chinese who adopted abandoned Japanese kids, raised them as though they were their own and provided them with loving homes? Or are we talking about the same Chinese whose relatives were tortured in live experiments conducted by Unit 731?

12 ( +18 / -6 )

Blast! The last sentence should read, "Yet both bonded with the Russians whose lives were no better than their captives."

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Rusia was exceptionally kind to the Japanese.

With the Manchuria massacre and Unit 731. That Japanese soldiers didn't deserve to be alive.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Let's get real, Japanese soldiers were just ordered about, same as students and company workers are today.

The administrative elite are the ones who are truly responsible, and not only did they largely escape severe punishment, many of them were reinstated to power.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

The administrative elite are the ones who are truly responsible

I"d add the emperor and emperor system, after all the war was for many Japanese, including the military a holy war fought in his name.

And add the zaibatsu with their needs to take other state's resources, in part because Japan was lacking in them. As Japan is today.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

In my wife’s small hamlet, I was approached by a Japanese excitedly asking if spoke Russian-he had been interred in a POW camp there

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My late father were in the labor camp in Siberia at the end of the war. He was able to come home luckily, but the aftereffects form working there had plauged him for the rest of his life until the death 8 years ago.

i have heard from him that it was so hard and hash to him! please note it is not the only Japan that forced the foreign workes to engage in tough jobs during the war!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

kanapi Today  02:18 pm JST

please note it is not the only Japan that forced the foreign workes to engage in tough jobs during the war!

Do you think that's all the imperial Japanese army did to POWs? Their cruelty and the atrocities committed are well documented. Compare to how Japanese POWs were treated by the US.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Everyone wants to remember the deeds done by others to their own but no one wants to remember the deeds done by their own to others. Human life is human life no matter what part of the planet you happen to be from.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Everyone wants to remember the deeds done by others to their own but no one wants to remember the deeds done by their own to others.

I would agree if you are speaking about the governments. My japanese wife and her relatives have all visited the Nanjing massacre museum and i'm sure there are many japanese who have visited as well... so yes there are individuals who acknowledges/accepts and are willing learn the horrifying things their govt has done to others...

Human life is human life no matter what part of the planet you happen to be from.

well said!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

My father-in-law managed to survive a Soviet labor camp, though he suffered from a lung ailment as a result and died well before he was my current age. He rarely spoke of his experiences, but I know that many of his comrades did not return...I clicked on this article just to see how many young (?) non-Japanese would make disparaging remarks. It's part of a pattern: One comes as a brash Occidental to the most prosperous, democratic, and stable nation in East Asia, makes an easier living than one could in one's home country, and then self-righteously dumps on it, generalizing from a long-ago era about which one knows little to judge the present.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Those Japanese were treated about the same as the Russians would have treated any German soldiers and civilians - and maybe the Japanese were treated better. But we have to remember that many of those Japanese did nothing except participate in a war that was not optional.

There's good reason that in WW2 the Japanese Imperial Forces gained the reputation of being cruel and merciless, extending that to civilians in hospitals in Singapore, for example, who were slaughtered along with doctors and nurses along with many other instances documented in primary sources including the infamous butchery in Nanjing. There's a museum there I've seen and most of it isn't propaganda.

However, there were many Japanese who were the counterparts of the Canadians, Americans, British, Australians, New Zealanders etc who fought as required by their country's governments. And you can find true stories of decent Japanese soldiers, usually ordinary ones, who helped keep prisoners alive such as women prisoners who they felt sorry for. And I heard from an old Singaporean lady about the famous spy 'High Pockets' who was tortured by the Japanese but allowed to go as she had shown huge courage in refusing to break,

With men of course it tended to be different because they had surrended and the Japanese forces showed contempt to those prisoners but there were still Japanese military who behaved with humanity. And so much for the glorification by Abe, Nippon Kaigi and their Uyoku friends of the WW2 Japanese military - beatings until death were administered by Japanese soldiers to their own sometimes and not necessarily for cowardice or desertion but because they were different and young recruits were sometimes savagely bullied.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

MilesTegToday  03:08 pm JST

kanapi Today  02:18 pm JST

please note it is not the only Japan that forced the foreign workes to engage in tough jobs during the war!

Do you think that's all the imperial Japanese army did to POWs? Their cruelty and the atrocities committed are well documented. Compare to how Japanese POWs were treated by the US.

You are totally missing the point. These Japanese POWs were kept by the Soviets after the war had ended. POWs in Japan and Allied countries had all been returned.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Maybe we could have a WORLD WIDE Day of Mourning for ALL such victims of our brutal inhumanity to ourselves and quit carping about who did what to whom. Mourning for our fellow Humans should not just be another exercise in what caused them to be abused in the first place.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

With the Manchuria massacre and Unit 731. That Japanese soldiers didn't deserve to be alive.

Odd that you should mention Unit 741 given that many of the perpetrators of that atrocity escaped execution by trading their 'research' to America's premier bioweapons laboratory, Fort Detrick. Ah, what they don't tell us in school...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Wow, the poster Khuniri just made a huge generalisation of non Japanese who come here to live and work but gets upset cause some posters can't find anything positive to say about the Japanese military during WW2.

'One comes as a brash Occidental to the most prosperous, democratic and stable nation in East Asia, makes an easier living than one could in one's home country and then dumps on it..' meaning Japan. Plenty of complexes showing here, dude, and you might want to cut out the self-righteousness if you're going to generalise so much in such a bigoted way.

People from western countries who live here are allowed to have an opinion even if it's negative and those opinions don't necessarily 'dump' on Japan. This echoes the cries of 'Japan bashing' that the ruling class in Japan has used for some time now to stifle debate about Japanese society's problems.

As for the 'easier living' - that hasn't been true since the Bubble Economy and that decades ago. While it's true the facebook generation started to come in relatively big numbers to Japan after about 2009, some of em grads from the US and Canada who wanted to pay back loans, there's nothing easy about living in a society like this one where as a resident you're not going to get the raft of benefits and assistance that you would get back home in a country like Canada or Australia to name two examples, as a resident taxpayer. Or the access to equal info in the US to find out how you can get benefits and assistance.

Just now many resident foreigner taxpayers are finding out that Japanese people have been able to defer or not pay at all juminze and kokumin kenko hoken in this pandemic when they have lost significant income but foreigners are 'too late to apply'. Their city halls told them nothing and of course when the info is not accessible, people cannot make use of the services and benefits that their taxes paid for. I could give a lot of other examples and I think you need to stop making assertions and pretending they are facts.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I met a Catholic priest who was a prisoner of Japan for six months at the beginning of the war, until he was exchanged for Japanese who wanted to go back to Japan. He said he was treated relatively well, and yet his health was ruined for the rest of his life. He was on the same ship that carried the American embassy Marines to be exchanged. He said that the Marines were kept in the bilge water of the ship, until being repatriated.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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