World / Reporter's Journal

Chinese WWII museum names Mike Honda honorary curator

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-03-02 11:07

Chinese WWII museum names Mike Honda honorary curator

US Congressman Mike Honda speaks after accepting Florence Fang's, seated, invitation to become honorary curator of the new WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall in San Francisco on Feb 28.

Not many people know the history of the friendship between China and the US cemented by blood when the two nations joined hands to combat fascism in the 1940s, leading to victory in World War II. Nor do many people realize that China lost 36 million of its people in its fierce war against Japanese aggression between 1937 and 1945.

To reflect this history accurately and educate the public on the importance of safeguarding world peace and retaining harmonious international order, Florence Fang, chairwoman of the Florence Fang Family Foundation and a legendary entrepreneur and philanthropist in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, is dedicated to the establishment of a museum she believes will serve as a platform through which peace-loving individuals and organizations will unite and ultimately benefit future generations.

The purpose of establishing a permanent WWII in the Pacific memorial hall in San Francisco's bustling downtown is not to humiliate Japan by showcase its wartime atrocities against its neighboring countries, nor to teach people to hate or retaliate, as some opponents of the project have suggested.

Chinese WWII museum names Mike Honda honorary curator

On the contrary, Fang said, the building under construction is a place for people, especially youngsters, to connect the present with the past, and together build the world into a better place of peace for the future.

At a press conference on Feb 28, founder and president of the WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall Florence Fang presented a letter of appointment to Mike Honda, US Congressman representing California's 17th District, naming him honorary curator of the museum.

Serving in Congress since 2001, Honda in 2007 proposed a resolution stating that Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner, refute any claims that the issue of comfort women never occurred, and educate current and future generations "about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the 'comfort women'".

"Congressman Honda is well known for his integrity, honesty and sincerity. He is especially caring for the feelings of all people," said Fang. "I'm grateful and proud that he has accepted our invitation."

Honda said, as the curator, he would support Fang and her vision for the museum. "My expectation is to let our people understand what happened in WWII; and a real place where people can see pictures and also appreciate contributions of the Chinese people in the Pacific during WWII, to make sure history is reflected accurately," he said.

"We especially want to emphasize that China and the US were allies, we stood together, fought together in the 1940s and finally we achieved the shared victory," Honda said.

Fang has already invited retired General James Whitehead, chairman of Flying Tiger Historical Organization, to serve as an honorary director of the museum.During World War II, the Flying Tiger pilots flew the Hump route over the Himalayas to India and back to deliver military supplies and joined the Nationalist Chinese Air Force in fighting the Japanese invaders.

The project was launched last July with Fang donating one of her family's properties in Chinatown as the site. The first and only of its kind outside of China initiated by overseas Chinese, the three-story museum will cover a floor space of 5,000 square feet.

"The Jewish people and community have established 167 monuments and museums worldwide to memorize the holocaust against Jews," said Fang. "We didn't even have one to commemorate the contribution and sacrifice of the Chinese people, even though the death toll of Chinese in WWII was 36 million."

Fang said the significance of selecting San Francisco as a site lies in the fact that the city served as the first stop for Chinese people setting foot in the US 150 years ago. "And being in Chinatown, a major tourist attraction, the museum will help promote the true history to people from all over the world," she added.

The completed museum is expected to feature five permanent exhibitions, said Fang: "The pre-Japanese invasion period from 1931 to 1937; Chinese people's resistance on its own terms from 1937 to 1941; the US involvement from 1942 to 1945; the friendship between China and the US during wartime; and overseas Chinese people's patriotism."

The building now is undergoing refurbishment and the construction is expected to be completed by Aug 15, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. To date, the organizing committee has been receiving constant donations from the public, from one dollar to tens of thousands.

"Our fund-raising project of 'one dollar from every one' is not solely aimed at soliciting donations but also a call on more people to participate," Fang said, adding that she hoped the project could go on forever. Fang has been in talks with concerned parties about the museum's design and collection of artifacts.

Zhu Lin contributed to this story.

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