The new Pacific War Memorial installation at Sonoma State University's Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove is designed to remember those victims, to educate and inform general public opinion on the history of the war in the Pacific, 1931-1945, and to offer a measure of peace and reconciliation for survivors of those atrocities and families of victims.
The memorial for Pacific War victims includes an 11-ft granite rock bench, engraved in both English and Chinese script, flanking a pathway inscribed with memorial messages for victims of the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces, 1931-45. The rock is designed as a resting place for visitors to sit and contemplate the meaning of the messages on the pathway bricks.
"The Pacific War (World War II in the Asian-Pacific Theater) was a time of extraordinary atrocities and war crimes committed by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces on mainland Asia and Island Nations of the Pacific," says SSU Professor Jean Bee Chan and her husband Peter Stanek, organizers of the memorial project.
"Sixty-eight years after the end of the war, the Japanese government has neither acknowledged nor apologized for these crimes, nor offered satisfactory and just repayment to the victims."
Chan lost her young brother during the war and has a special brick in his name at the site. "My brother got sick without any medical attention and food since the Japanese Imperial Military bombed local medical facilities, and Japanese soldiers regularly raided our rural village to steal our animals and crops," she says. "My mother is now 96 years old and she still mourns the loss of her only son."
The memorial is sponsored by the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia who continue to seek apology and fair compensation for victims, survivors, and their families harmed by the actions of the Japanese government in the Pacific theatre of the war.
The new memorial is part of SSU's existing Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove, first dedicated on 2009. The Grove features a sculpture and a pathway paved with bricks that present memorial messages, and a tree planted in memory of Anne Frank. Over the past year, Chan and Stanek have been working with SSU to include the Asian Holocaust component in a more prominent position.
A special dedication of the Pacific War Memorial at SSU will be held on Sept. 14 in a public ceremony at 1:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.
The program includes SSU President Ruben Arminana who will cut the ribbon and read the inscription on the new Memorial Rock Bench. Performances will offer a song (lamenting the loss of homeland in Manchuria in 1931) by the Redwood Empire Chinese Association Chorus and Erhu (a two-stringed fiddle) music by Xiaofeng Zhang, Jumping Buddha Ensemble.
A reception follows in the Commons from 2:30-4:00 p.m.
Other speakers include:
Jean Bee Chan, SSU Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, President of The Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition (based in Northern California)
Dr. Peter Stanek, President of Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (an international organiztion of 41 groups all over the world)
All 26 brick sponsors who will read the memorial messages publicly
Jenny Chen, "Forever Ginling" Playwright and Producer, Foundation Honoring Nanjing Massacre Survivors, Intersection of the Arts
Sonoma County Supervisor Shirley Zane (Third District)
Ted Kurihara, of The Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition
"Asians have suffered a terrible injustice, largely ignored by the world," says Chan and Stanek, "and Japan continues to deny her war crimes. We must not forget the Asian holocaust of the Pacific War, 1931-1945. A formal apology from the Japan government will go a long way to promote peace, harmony, and reconciliation, especially among Japan's neighboring countries."
Bricks in the pathways of the Grove are in memory of:
* Native Taiwanese massacred during Japanese colonial occupation, 1895-1945
* Asians kidnaped by Japanese Imperial military for for slave labor and worked to death
* Civilians and POWs murdered in Japanese military experiments in Japan's Unit 731
* Hundreds of thousands of women and young girls, forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Military
* 35 million Asians and Pacific Islanders murdered in Japanese military atrocities
* The 300,000 victims of the Rape of Nanking
The memorial is sponsored by the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia and affiliate organizations The Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition and The Alliance for Preserving The History of the Sino-Japanese War.
These groups work to seek formal Japanese government apology and fair compensation for victims, survivors, and their families harmed by the brutal actions of the Japanese Military in the Pacific War, 1931-1945.
They conduct educational activities to inform and mobilize public opinion. Establishing permanent, public memorials that address and illustrate Pacific War history is part of their volunteer work.
On June 18, 2013, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution demanding apology from the Japanese government, and directing Mayor Ed Lee to take forceful action to complete the task.
The resolution also calls upon California's Congressional delegation to press the issue with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
For information about the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove at Sonoma State University, visit https://www.sonoma.edu/holocaustgrove/.
ABOVE: SSU Emeritus Professor Jean Bee Chan and her husband Peter D. Stanek, organizers of the Pacific War Memorial project at SSU. (Photo by Jean Wasp)