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2012 February 15 - 21 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Japanese ‘Red Purge’ victims seek apology from US

February 14, 2012
Japanese survivors of the “Red Purge” on February 9 went to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and submitted a letter addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama, seeking an official apology as head of the country that had implemented the “Red Purge” that led to severe abuses of basic human rights.

Suzuki Shoji, acting secretary general of the National Liaison Center against the Red Purge, asked an embassy official to convey their request to President Obama.

Member of the Red Purge Center Ohashi Yutaka and two survivors related the hardships they experienced due to the purge. Listening to their stories, the official promised to send a report on testimony to the United States.

Citing how the United States, Italy, Spain, and South Korea had addressed this issue, they asked the official to request that the U.S. administration also work on the Japanese government to address the human rights abuses that took place.

Body of the letter is as follows:

During the postwar period of the occupation of the U.S. armed forces (1949-1950), the Red Purge enforced throughout Japan was on a scale and magnitude unprecedented in world history.

An estimated 40,000 workers were branded as “subversives” because they were Japanese Communist Party members or supporters and then purged by force from their workplaces. Therefore, they suffered extreme mental, physical and economic hardships with many experiencing difficulties finding new jobs. Some ended up committing suicide due to the unbearable distress they had to experience.

The Red Purge inflicted tremendous damage to various social movements in Japan, such as those demanding the eradication of militarism and the establishment of democracy, the protection of the daily lives of the many suffering from the pains of of the war, and the reconstruction of an exhausted industry and economy.

The Red Purge was implemented nationwide by General D. MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, under the policy initiative of the U.S. Government. This purge started with the targeting of public servants and spread to private enterprises in 1949. The main reason for these unfair dismissals, concentrating on Japanese Communist Party members and its supporters, was based on “The nine principles of economic stabilization”(the Dodge Line) detailed in U.S. Government policy.

“I drew up a plan to dismiss the “red” elements, in accordance with the directive from General Headquarters,” said Shigeru Yoshida, the then Japanese Prime Minister.
In the purge of teachers, it was revealed that the list of persons targeted was turned over to local authorities by C.I.C (Counter Intelligence Corps).

In 1950, a full-scale Red Purge was implemented at the initiative of the Japanese government and the business community putting to use anti-communist statements and communiques issued by General MacArthur. However, as clearly revealed by the Cabinet approval of the Japanese government “On the exclusion of communists from public office,” aiming to purge activists by referring to the General MacArthur statements, and in the letter addressed to local governors “Concerning the exclusion of communist subversives from enterprises,” there is no doubt that the responsibility for the Red Purge oppression laid with the U.S. Government.

The Red Purge went against the Constitution of Japan which was already established. It was expected that even the Occupation forces would be required to respect the Constitutional guarantees of fundamental human rights, freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom of assembly and association as well as expression. Furthermore, it went completely against the United Nations Charter, the Potsdam Declaration and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all of which clearly prohibit discrimination based on thought and protect fundamental human rights.

Therefore, if the U.S. Government had intended to comply with these Declarations and the Charter, it would have never gone ahead with the Red Purge.

The United States of America is a country where the significance of human rights is highly respected and you, Mr. President, always speaks about the importance of human rights. Accordingly, your Government has to show its sincerity towards making amends, acknowledging its past grave error in the enforcement of the Red Purge 61 years ago, and offer an official apology to the victims whose human rights were violated.

We call on the U.S. Government to take effective measures as soon as possible to restore the dignity of the aging victims in consultation with the Japanese Government, which implemented the Red Purge in accordance with the instructions of the U.S. Government.

We have previously submitted a letter with the same purpose to you through the American Embassy in Tokyo on January 6, 2010.

We hope that the word “Change” will be utilized again towards resolving the Red Purge problem.
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