Japanese veteran recalls crimes of war

By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-02 08:18

CHENGDU: "I am sorry for what the Japanese army did to the Chinese during War War II and hope the history will not be forgotten," said Yasuyoshi Shioya, a Japanese veteran, Wednesday.

Supported by a walking stick and trying to contain his emotions behind a placid voice, the 86-year-old offered the apology in a speech to some 200 citizens, World War II veterans and students at the Chengdu Museum, in the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

"I am on my 22nd trip to China to repent for the sins I committed during the war," he said.

Shioya, who arrived in Chengdu on Sunday and is due to leave for Beijing on Friday, donated a Japanese lieutenant general's uniform, together with a saber to the Jianchuan Museum in Dayi, Chengdu, which is China's largest private museum dedicated to World War II.

He has also given two lectures with the topic "learning from history and promoting peace" in Chengdu one at the Southwest University of Nationalities and the other in the Chengdu Museum.

He said he found the question sessions after the lectures the hardest part. "Some questions are difficult to answer. For example, they would ask how many Chinese I killed," Shioya told China Daily.

Shioya was a freshman in a Japanese university when he was forced to join the army at the age of 21.

"I injured my finger on purpose to avoid joining the army, for a wounded person was not supposed to be a soldier," he said. "But I was still enrolled."

Shioya, a soldier in the No 59 Division, stayed in Tai'an in East China's Shandong Province from early 1942 to the end of War War II in 1945.

Having shot some 10 Chinese soldiers dead during the No 59 Division's battles with the Chinese army throughout Shandong, Hebei and Jiangsu provinces, and Shanghai, he still remembers the atrocities the division committed.

"Some soldiers would tie the hands and legs of Chinese children across doorways and tear them in half by kicking open the door. Whenever I recall it, I feel ashamed," he said.

When the war ended, Shioya was captured by the former Soviet Union's Red Army and forced to dig coal in Siberia.

"When I returned to Japan, several of the vertebrae in my waist were rotten. It was when I was suffering in Siberia that I started to repent for my sins in China," he said.

In 1985, Shioya rented out his cosmetics store, and organized a delegation of some 60 former soldiers from the No 59 Division to return to a village in Tai'an.

Since his first trip back to China in 1985, Shioya has visited every year or so. "This is my first time in Sichuan. With the passage of time, most of the former soldiers who came back to China in 1985 have died. It's now impossible to organize a delegation to repent in China. So I've come alone," he said.

The Jianchuan Museum yesterday celebrated Shioya's 86th birthday during his lecture.

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