¡@The Society to Carry on the Miracle at Fushun:

Its Origin and Activities[1]


Mizuho Shimada and Megumi Makino


For many foreign observers, Japan probably does not strike one as a country which makes any effort to remember its wartime actions in order to learn lessons from history. There is a prevailing assumption that war veterans do not want to discuss their war experiences and Japanese people, in general, are completely ignorant about their nation¡¦s militarist past. Therefore, it may be a surprise to many people to discover that there is a group of ex-servicemen who have been publicly relating their own war crimes for nearly five decades. As introduced by Motomu Ishikawa and Megumi Makino in ¡¥Miracle at Fushun: The Transformation of Japanese ¡§War Criminals¡¨ from Devils into Humans¡¦, these veterans established the Chûgoku Kikansha Renraku Kai (the Association of China Returnees, or the ACR for short) in 1957 for the purpose of contributing to the promotion of Japan-China friendship and the opening of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. During the war, Chinese people called Japanese soldiers Riben Guizi (Japanese devils) due to their inhumane activities. What transformed the ACR members from Japanese devils into humans was the humane treatment that they received from the prison staff at Fushun: the process which they regard as a miracle.


These war veterans now have the support of younger people who belong to the Bujun no Kiseki o Uketsugu Kai (the Society to Carry on the Miracle at Fushun, hereafter the SCMF). It is a Japanese citizens' group which is concerned about the issues of peace and the mutual friendship between Japan and its neighbouring countries. The society was established in 2002 by those who wanted to carry on the peace activism of the ACR.

Since their repatriation, more than 800 returnees from Fushun Prison have already passed away and, as of 2006, their average age is over eighty-five. Although many ACR members were determined to be active in their cause to the end of their lives, it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to continue with it when the new century began. Around that time, a group of young people who were in their twenties discovered the ACR and its activities. They were astonished to find out that there were Japanese war veterans who were willing to discuss their war experiences from the perspective of aggressors. What is more, they had been doing this in order to atone for their past sins for nearly half a century.


In April 2002, the ACR was forced to disband itself due to the aging of its members. Yet, on the very same day, those young people who were moved by the activism of the ACR announced the establishment of the Society to Carry on the Miracle at Fushun. Currently, the society's membership is about 500 and it has 10 chapters within Japan. It also has members in Beijing, Sydney, Berlin, London and Vancouver.


The SCMF members are involved in various activities. The most important task for them is to interview the former ACR members. Since the number of these elderly men is dwindling year by year, there is an urgent need to collect and preserve their memories of the war of invasion and the process by which the ¡¥miracle¡¦ happened at Fushun.


Second, the Society organises various public events to hold testimonial sessions given by the former ACR members. The SCMF members believe that it is extremely important for young Japanese people to listen to these veterans' war stories, which are grounded in their deep reflection on Japan's militarist past, in order to understand how precious peace is. The SCMF also organises a trip to China every year. Thanks to the contact that the ACR members have maintained with the former prison staff at Fushun, the SCMF members are blessed with an opportunity to listen to these Chinese people¡¦s experiences of Japanese war actions and the reforming process of Japanese ¡¥war criminals.¡¦ At the same time, the SCMF members make efforts to expand their networks of friendship with students and other young people in China through dialogue.


Third, the society publishes a quarterly magazine Chûkiren which is the Japanese acronym for the ACR. During the 1990s, right-wing historical revisionists became very active in Japan. They saw the ACR members¡¦ stories as reflecting badly on Japan and, thus, tried to discredit them by claiming that these veterans had been brainwashed by Chinese Communists. The magazine was first published by some ACR members in 1997 in response to such right-wing attacks. With the establishment of the SCMF, young people came to play a vital role in this publishing activity. Right-wing historical revisionism is deep-rooted in some sections of Japanese society. However, owing to the support of Japanese citizens who are concerned about historical issues, the number of publications of the Chûkiren has already reached 36 issues.


The SCMF members are very proud of carrying on the peace activism which originated in the unique experiences of the Japanese detainees at Fushun Prison. They will continue to reflect on Japan's war guilt and responsibility, and pursue anti-war peace activities in order to strive for international friendship in collaboration with other citizens' groups.





[1] This paper is a revised version of ¡¥The Society to Carry on the Miracle at Fushun: From Its Birth to the Present¡¦ which was presented by Mizuho Shimada at the World Peace Forum held in Vancouver, Canada in June 2006.