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2012/04/11
Former Japanese detainees express gratitude to DPJ Siberia parliamentary league – “Our honour was recovered by a change of government.”


On April 11, the DPJ Siberia parliamentary league (led by Acting Chair Eiko Ishige; comprised of 239 Diet members addressing the issues of postwar Japanese detainees) held its fourth general meeting in the Diet. Over the course of a discussion with representatives of the ministries concerned with detainee issues, league members asked questions and exchanged opinions on two government actions: the provision of special benefits for the detainees (the application period for this ended in March 2012), and investigations to grasp a precise picture of the situation of detainees in Siberia.

Both government actions were realized after the DPJ became the ruling party. They are based on “Special Measure for Siberia” (an act on special measures concerning the issues of Japanese postwar detainees), a private members’ bill, which was enacted on June 16, 2010. It was reported that thanks to the efforts made by related organizations, 67,000 benefit applications totalling up to 19 billion yen in benefits have been registered, an amount exceeding initial expectations. In addition, the meeting was informed that the budget for the investigations, which is based on Article 13 of “Special Measure for Siberia,” was allocated to be 1.8 times more than the original plan thanks to the league’s continuous requests to the Ministry of Finance. In line with league policy, participants agreed to make a fresh start toward building new consolidations and cooperative relationships with non-governmental organizations.

With postwar detainees having reached advanced ages and some having already passed away, the investigation is expected to reveal the facts of the detention situation in Siberia as soon as possible. To this end, a non-governmental organization is now scheduled to examine approximately 200,000 pages of newly discovered records from a Soviet military convoy.

The meeting was also attended by members of an association of former Japanese detainees which ended its activities last year along with the enactment of the “Special Measure for Siberia.” The members reviewed their years of fighting on this issue, including the sit-in rallies they held in front of the Diet, and expressed gratitude for being able to recover their honour thanks to the change of government. They also expressed a strong desire for investigations and the clarification of the detention situation in Siberia at the earliest possible stage. The parliamentary league assured the group that league members will keep an eye on the investigations of both government and non-governmental organizations, making proposals and giving support as necessary.”

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