World Peace Forum, Asia Regional Conference Workshop Report: 

Miracle in Fushun


Submitted by Tatsuo Kage


The workshop titled: ¡§Miracle in Fushun¡¨ was held at 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on June 25,2006 at the Asia Regional Conference of the World Peace Forum. The venue was Henry Angus Building at the UBC Campus.


The workshop was sponsored by ¡§Uketsugu Kai¡¨ (Association to Carry on Miracle in Fushun) in Tokyo and moderated by Tatsuo Kage, a historian and the member of the Greater Vancouver JCCA Human Rights Committee. Bilingual texts of speeches were distributed.


At the session an excerpt of a video documentary of an ex-soldier¡¦s experience was shown. People involved in both Canada and Japan had worked together to produce English subtitles for the video.   


We had three invited presenters: .


- Shinichi Arai, Professor Emeritus of Surugadai University.   He is a prominent historian who has published numerous books on WWII. He spoke about ¡¨the Historical and Political Background of China¡¦s War Crime Policy.¡¨  He explained the general characteristics of the war crime policy of the Allies including nationalist China¡¦s generous treatment of war criminals. 


When Japan was defeated in WWII, Japanese soldiers in China and Manchukuo¡¦s government officials were arrested and taken to Siberia. In 1950, after the founding of the People¡¦s Republic of China, some 1,000 Japanese war criminals were transferred to China. Professor Arai explained, based on Chinese Foreign Ministry¡¦s documents, that the transfer was clearly intended by Stalin and the Soviet Authority, letting Chinese deal with the Japanese war criminals.


- The second speaker was Professor Motomu Ishikawa who teaches Eurpoean philosophy at the Tokyo Metropolitan University. He has been is an active member of the Uketsugu Kai Association.


He spoke about the experience of those who had been confined for several years in the War Criminal Prison in Fushun. Under Zhou Enlai¡¦s leadership and direction Japanese war criminals were treated humanely: They were fed better than local citizens, the prison staff members were ordered not to abuse the inmates either physically or verbally. There was no forced labour and they had plenty of time for study and exercises. Through such a treatment the Japanese war criminals gradually became aware of how unfairly and cruelly they had treated Chinese people. They confessed their criminal acts during the war. In the agonizing process of a few years, they became repentant and rehabilitated. 


At the military tribunals held in 1956, most of them were discharged, released and allowed to repatriate during the same year. Even for those 45 people who were found guilty, the maximum sentence was 20 years confinement and there were no life sentences or capital punishment. Such a lenient treatment of war criminals was unusual in history. 


Repatriated Japanese soldiers formed an organization called ¡§Chukiren¡¨, a Network for the Returnees from China. They became peace activists striving for  Japan-China friendship. As witnesses they publicly spoke about their inhumane conducts during the war and appealed to the Japanese public not to repeat past mistakes of invading neighbouring countries which has made ordinary citizens into devils.


Professor Ishikawa explained that there had been a multi-layered miracle: What happened were 1) the generous treatment by Chinese, 2) the rehabilitation of Japanese war criminals, 3) their peace activism and witnessing in Japan and 4) younger generations¡¦ involvements in supporting ex-soldiers¡¦ experience and activities.   .


-         Ms. Mizuho Shimada, a staff member of ¡§the Association to Carry on Miracle in Fushun¡¨ spoke about more recent developments of the movement.  


Even though 80% of the ex-soldiers had passed away, some people have continued their witnessing activities even to this day. The network was dissolved several years ago due to the members¡¦ high age, but younger people simultaneously took over the task of promoting friendship with China and gathering testimonies through forming the new organization called ¡§Uketsugu Kai.¡¨


This Association¡¦s activities include holding witnessing meetings, preserving and publishing the records of testimonies, organizing an annual study tour to Fushun where meetings with former prison staff members and young Chinese people occur. Since 1997 the returnees¡¦ network (and then the Association) publish a quarterly called ¡§Chukiren.¡¨




The presentations were followed by questions and answers. For example, a participant, a historian in Vancouver, raised a question about the documentary proofs. Prof. Arai responded that even though some statements of confession were released, the Chinese government has maintained strict control of disclosure.   


Another question was about the general implication of ¡§ Miracle in Fushun.¡¨ Can it be transferable to another situation? Can this precedence of reconciliation be materialized with a third party¡¦s help, for example, UN involvement?  Even though there were efforts made in South Africa, Chile and Indonesia, there was a feeling among us that the experience of Fushun was unique because it happened during the time period and contexts of the Cold War and the San Francisco Peace Treaty which was concluded without China. Prof. Ishikawa pointed out: ¡§If China had been a party of the Peace Treaty, ¡§Miracle in Fushun¡¨ could have never happened.¡¨


Another point was raised by a Chinese Canadian participant who belongs to an organization for studying and preserving the history of WWII. He was able to see the influence of Chinese traditional philosophy (¡§reciprocating grudges with virtue¡¨) in ¡§Miracle in Fushun,¡¨ referring to generosity toward Japanese and the rehabilitation of the Last Emperor Puyi who had also been an inmate of the same Fushun Prison.


The experience in Fushun and related Japanese veterans¡¦ activities in Japan are hardly known outside Japan. Therefore, we are very pleased with the opportunity to introduce this unusual historical event to the wider public.


The workshop was supported by two volunteers; Eriko Hirabayashi, interpreter and Yoko Shimosaka, recorder.


Three texts of presentations are attached for uploading.