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  • Writer's picturePauline Kok


Last year October King Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Maxima visited Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko after receiving an invitation from the Japanese government. Since their children were still small, the relationship between the two principalities has been excellent and the families visit each other annually.

The agenda held many issues for discussion and one of them was the Second World War – to this day a subject that remains touchy and painful. King Willem-Alexander brought forth the wounds and injuries still so present and haunting in the lives of the survivors. He drew attention to the memories around the prisons, the humiliations and the penalizing servitude, still so distinctive in the lives of the victims, including the lives of all the innocent Japanese, who like us, never wanted this war.

Willem-Alexander’s opinion was that through the recognition of those past sufferings, entwined with combined effort of both Dutch and Japanese people, a new confidence could develop and eventually become the basis for reconciliation.

During the reception, Japanese Emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko spoke with a small number of Dutch prisoners of war living in Indonesia during World War II. According to Japanese media, they were invited for this reception. In order to come to terms with the enormous suffering resulting form these war crimes and to rejuvenate compliance, Japan and the Netherlands started this exchange program. Each year prisoners of war will receive an invitation to travel to Japan and attend the reception after the official state visit of the Dutch Royal couple to Japan’s Emperor and his Empress.

Has this made a difference?

Has this become the end of pain, haunting memories, depression and loneliness?

Has this returned honor and peace to the many young girls raped by sneering Japanese soldiers?

Will this bring understanding to the suicides of young women, unable to face the shame of giving birth to a Japanese baby?

Will this remove the shame of these bi-racial children upon hearing the truth of how they were conceived?

Has this been enough for the widows and mothers of the men and boys buried under the crossbeams of the Burma-Siam Railroad?

Will anything truly make a difference and bring peace to the victims of World War II?

Did World War II really end on August 15, 1945?

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