by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
During World War II, various Southeast Asian countries were engulfed by the Imperial Japanese Military as part of their vision to create a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. This is Part I of a IV part series. Outlined below is a brief history of major events during the Singapore Campaign including the beginning of Japanese colonialism and the eventual conclusion of the war:
Operation Singapore : 昭南島
The successful occupation of Singapore by the Imperial Japanese army was a direct result of the fall of the British colony in Singapore on February 15, 1942. The Battle of Singapore (Feb 7, 1942 – Feb 15, 1942) as it was called, was fought between 85,000 British army men lead by Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, while Japan’s 36,000 men were headed by Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita. The disadvantage was clear: compared to Tomoyuki’s men who fought in the Manchuria campaign, most of Percival’s men have never experienced combat.
On December 8, 1941, the Imperial Japanese 25th Army first began invading British Malaya (now Malaysia) from both Indochina and Thailand. Despite British forces clearly outnumbering the Japanese regiment, with military maneuvers such as flanking and Japan’s air superiority, the Japanese military was able to drive back British forces and sink their two main battleships, HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales. From there, the army moved through the peninsula using light tanks and bicycles. Japanese speed as well as their surprise tactics that prevented their enemies to re-group proved to be virtually unstoppable. By January 31st, the British army retreated to the island of Singapore.
Beginning February 3, Japan unleashed attacks against garrisons on the island and by February 8, they landed on the northwest coast of Singapore near the Strait of Johore. While the areas were occupied by the Australian 22nd Infantry Brigade, the Japanese navigated at night around unoccupied areas of the coast. Within 24 hours, a second Japanese landing between the Causeway and Kranji River occurred, and the military was met with the Australian 27th Infantry Brigade. By January 10, Japanese forces completely occupied the northwest coast and forced the Australian troops to fall back and retreat.
To counter the Japanese, Australian Commander General H Gordon Bennett chose to form a defensive line east of the Tengah airfield at Belem. On the north side of the island, Brigadier Duncan Maxwell's 27th Australian Brigade launched attacks against the Japanese army on the west side of the causeway. They managed to halt the Japanese progression momentarily, but when Maxwell was unable to communicate with the 22nd Australian Brigade on his left he was left with no choice but to fall back on their defensive position. This withdrawal allowed the Imperial Japanese army to land armed units on the island and outflank Bennett’s defensive Jurong Line. They then continued pushing their troops towards their city.
Commander Bennet (left) and Duncan Maxwell (right)
“(i) Not only must the defence of Singapore Island be maintained by every means, but the whole island must be fought for until every single unit and every single strong point has been separately destroyed. (j) Finally, the city of Singapore must be converted into a citadel and defended to the death. No surrender can be contemplated, and the Commander, Staffs and principal officers are expected to perish at their posts.”
The city center was in complete chaos. Allied anti-aircraft guns were almost out of ammunition, failing to disrupt Japanese air attacks and petrol to power military vehicles was exhausted. The water supply was also severely damaged. Officially at 9:30 February 15, Percival offered up the island’s surrender. Over 100,000 men were taken as POWs, with another 50,000 Chinese Singaporeans casualties. Many POWs were shipped to work on the Thai-Burma railroad. Despite the threat of death and retribution from the Japanese, many Chinese Singaporeans continued to assist Allied POWs during their imprisonment. Initially praising the island as an impregnable fortress, the British’s eventual surrender of Singapore is arguably one of the country’s worst defeats during World War II. With this new land acquisition, Japan included the country in their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and renamed it Sonan-to, meaning ‘Light of the South Island’.
Following the surrender, Commander Bennett, escaped with his staff officers, commandeering a small boat. Bennett eventually made it back to Australia under intense scrutiny and controversy as officials and civilians alike claimed he was free while his men suffered in POW camps. A Royal Commission was issued to Bennet, finding that he was unjustified in his command and abandonment of his men. After the events of the Battle of Singapore, Bennett’s military career plunged and he never commanded troops in battle again.
Following the Japanese surrender back on September 2, 1945, on September 12, the country returned to British colonial rule after Japanese General Seishirō Itagaki surrendered to Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command Lord Mountbatten, officially ending World War II in Singapore.
Hays, Jeffrey. “JAPANESE INVASION OF SOUTHEAST ASIA IN WORLD WAR II.” Facts and Details, http://factsanddetails.com/asian/ca67/sub427/item2534.html
Blackburn, Kevin, and Karl Hack. Did Singapore have to fall?: Churchill and the impregnable fortress. Routledge, 2003.
Thompson, Peter. The battle for Singapore: The true story of the greatest catastrophe of World War II. Hachette UK, 2010.
Hickman, Kennedy. “World War II: Battle of Singapore.” Thoughtco., Dotdash, 11 Sept. 2017, www.thoughtco.com/world-war-ii-battle-of-singapore-2361472.
Trueman. “The Fall of Singapore.” History Learning Site, History Learning Site, 19 May 2015, www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/the-pacific-war-1941-to-1945/the-fall-of-singapore/.
“The Anzac Portal.” What Happened Here? | The Anzac Portal, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/australia-and-second-world-war/events/japanese-advance-december-1941march-1942-3
Winston Churchill, The Hinge of Fate (London: Cassell and Co., Ltd., 1951), p. 42.
International Women’s Day is more than just a hashtag on social media. It is a day celebrated internationally by at least 100 countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, Mongolia, Russia, and Ukraine. It has a radical origin with its start with the now defunct Socialist Party of America in 1909 with demands for voting rights, better pay, and shorter working hours. Here are 5 facts of how women contributed to World War 2 in honor of this day that has been celebrated for over 100 years.
1. Rosie the Riveter was probably the most effective propaganda to recruit women workers for the defense industry during WW2
By 1943, 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry, which made up 65% of the industry’s total workforce. Before the war, there had been less than 1% of women working in the industry.
3. There were actually women who served in dangerous roles in the U.S. military
Since the motto of the time was to “free a man up to fight,” many women had to fill other positions in the military from intelligence to nurses to pilots.
4. In the Philippines, many women picked up their weapons and became guerrillera fighters
They served as frontline fighters to intelligence. One of the fighters Liwayway even wore lipstick before fighting in the frontline.
6. Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was formed due to the lack of men available as pilots during WW2
The members of WASP were compiled of United States federal civil service employees to test aircraft, ferried aircraft, and train other pilots in order to free up men to fight the war. There were 1074 members who completed their training, and 38 of the members have lost their lives and one disappeared while on a ferry mission. During its operation, members flew over 60 million miles, transported every type of military aircraft, towed targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice, and stimulated strafing missions and transported cargo. Although they served the country during WW2, they did not officially receive their veteran status until 1977.
Although these are women from different regions of the world participating in WW2, they share a common experience of being able to stand up to the test of the war, but at the same time, treated worse than their male counterparts. Women who worked in the military, factories, and farms worked overtime and were paid a lot less than men even though they did similar work. Women who suffered abuse and torture did not get any of the deserved reparations. This is why International Women’s Day should be more than a hashtag, and be served a day to remember those who endured more than we ever did in our times.
Food and Snacks Invention Related to Pacific Asia War: Part 2- World War 2 and the Invention of Energy Bar
Ever had a time where you feel as if you had no time for a meal but still needed something to keep you going and went for an energy bar? This sweet tasting energy bar likely filled with cereal and chocolate energy bar date itself back to World War 2.
The United States military feeds its members through rations, which are often made for quick distribution, preparation, and eating in the fields. Ration had evolved through the ages. During the Revolutionary War to the Spanish-American War, the “garrison ration” consisted of meat or salt fish, bread, and vegetable. Then during World World 1, it evolved into three types of rations: Trench ration, the Iron ration, and Reserve ration. The Trench ration is exactly what it sounds like. As the soldiers were fighting the war in trenches and some food was getting spoiled by poisoned gas in the front line, canned food had to be used to prevent food being poisoned. The Iron Ration consisted of a 3 ounces cake, chocolate, and an lb of salt and pepper packets. The Reserve ration consisted of an lb of canned meat or 12 oz of fresh bacon, biscuits, pre-ground coffee, sugar, salt, and cigarettes.
With the change and adaptation of how nations fought wars, rations had to adapt as well. In 1937, Captain Paul Logan demanded a meal to be indestructible, pocket-sized, heat-resistant, and nutritious for the paratroopers during their long field deployment. The bar also had to not be too tasty as he did not want his soldiers snacking on them. He met with Hershey’s in the spring of 1937. William Murrie, the president of Hershey’s chocolate and Sam Hinkle, the Chief Chemist of Hershey’s, went into an experiment to make an energy bar that would meet the nutrition needs of the US soldier.
After Milton Hershey’s approval of the military project, the technologists of Hershey’s came up with “Field Ration D” bars made out of oat flour, cacao fat, skim milk powder, sugar, and artificial flavoring. By 1939, Hershey was able to produce 100,000 units of “Field Ration D” bars per day, but the military had complained about the taste of the bar. Due to what it does to some soldiers’ bowel movements, it even had a nickname of “Hitler’s secret weapon”. Since it was resistant to heat and cannot melt in soldiers' mouths, it was also known to do some real damage to the soldiers’ teeth.
Of course, Ration D bars were only reserved for emergencies as the military had other options.
These are some of the ration options by the time it got to World War 2:
A-ration, Garrison Ration, which is fresh, refrigerated, or frozen food prepared in dining halls or field kitchens.
B-ratio, Field Ration, which is canned, packaged, or preserved foods normally prepared in field kitchens without refrigeration.
C-ration, Individual Ration, which is a complete pre-cooked, ready to eat, canned individual meal.
D-Ration, Emergency Ration, revolutionized by the Iron Ration in World War 1, but with the addition of Captain Paul Logan’s request of making its heat resistance and bad tasting energy bars.
K-Ration, Individual Ration, which is designed as a short duration individual ration for paratroopers and other specialized light infantry ration, and it was declared obsolete by 1948 due to its lack of nutrition.
Compared to the other rations of A-C, D-ration bars were the nastiest of the options. The military’s complaints about the taste eventually led Hershey’s to develop a better tasting bar named Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar in 1943, which was a bit tastier. It was only a slight improvement to the original “Field Ration D” bar. Once the United States became involved in World War 2, the demand for the energy bar had gone up. The estimated bars produced between 1940-1945 was over 3 billion. Eventually, due to the demand of the bars, other companies started producing them as well.
Today, the heat resistance technology used to produce these bars are in demand to produce chocolates in India and other tropical climate areas to produce melt resistant candies. Energy bars are also now more popular than before. Of course, energy bars produced for the mass population taste a lot better than the bars produced for the war. There are also different bars targetted for different markets and for different types of needs ranging from meal replacement to organic bars marketed for different activities and needs.
by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
October 13, 2016, the day that Thailand, and the world, lost the longest reigning monarch in modern history. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand took the throne shortly after World War II, and for over 70 years, personified loyalty, hierarchy, and humility—characteristics that were used to define Thai statehood. He was 88 years old.
After the news of his passing at Siriraj Hospital, Thai citizens were in mourning. For an entire year, Thai citizens wore black garments out of respect for the death of their monarch. Over the past year, over 12 million citizens came to pay respect to the King at his final resting place at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. To them, King Bhumibol was the only king they knew. From June 9 of 1946 to October 13 of 2016, he witnessed vast transformations within his country, from that of an agricultural based economy to a modern, socioeconomic climate with a growing middle class.
Even with limits on his direct power and constitutional role due to the system of a constitutional monarchy, one cannot deny that King Bhumibol was well respected and adored by his people. With a single gesture of soft words, he managed to diffuse a coup by inviting the then sitting Prime Minister, Prem Tinsulanonda, to stay at the Royal Palace. Again, in 1992, he managed to defuse the political impasse between two opposing parties by inviting the leaders to his home, and lecturing them that their political warfare was a danger Thailand’s stability. The King was not only a well-respected figure but his skills in mediation lead to multiple peaceful outcomes in Thai history.
In addition, the King lead many rural and agricultural development projects throughout the country. He spoke on ideas of self-sufficiency and promoted projects that focused on rural economic development. These projects included rebuilding/upgrading dams to water rice fields, establishing milk-pasteurization plants, as well as recycling sugarcane and transforming it to fuel. His projects were later called the Royal Thai Projects (โครงการหลวง) and would later go on to become an important contributor to the UN's international development goals. He was a monarch loved by his people for his intelligence, selflessness, and grace.
King Bhumibol and other world leaders throughout his reign
Before King Bhumibol’s reign, until the year 1932, Thailand was ruled under an absolute monarchy. Under this political system, the King had full control over the judicial body, the appointment of both state and tumbol (jurisdiction) officials, and overall state policies that governed the country. Famously recognized Kings under Thailand’s total monarchy system included King Chulalongkorn, known for his social reforms including the abolition of slavery and territorial concessions he negotiated to prevent the country from being colonized by the British and the French. Another King including King Mongkut, who adopted and embraced scientific and cultural expansionism in the country. His story was later inaccurately recreated in the musical, The King and I, a fabricated tale of white female fantasy, white savior complex, and wish fulfillment for a land and political seat white foreigners could never possess. Not to mention the frequent use of yellowface as an attempt to fill in the role of a well respected Thai king.
King Chulalonkorn left, and King Mongkut right
In 1932, the current King in power at the time was King Prajadhipok. He had inherited a political climate that was volatile, and possess serious political and economic powers including a major deficit due to the domino effect of the Great Depression. On June 24, 1932, a small group of both military forces and intellectual overthrew the country’s absolute monarchy. The group enacted the 1932 constitution, severely limited King Prajadhipok’s power to that of a mere symbolic figurehead. They also created Khana Radsadorn (The People’s Party), the first political party in Thai history.
As King Prajadhipok was unable to govern due health reasons, the crown thus moved to the next rightful heir. As King Prajadhipok later abdicated was the last remaining son of Queen Saovabha, the crown went the son whose ranked match hers, Queen Savang Vadhana. While her son, Prince Prince Mahidol Adulyadej—well respected for his knowledge of medicine and public health—passed away, succeeding him were two sons and a daughter, Ananda Mahidol, Bhumibol Adulyadej, and Galyani Vadhana. On March 2, 1935, at the orders of the new cabinet, the crown was thus handed down to King Prajadhipok’s nephew, Ananda Mahidol who was ten (10) at the time.
Older King Ananda and his brother King Bhumibol left, and younger King Ananda right
King Ananda was born in Heidelberg, Germany on September 20, 1925. He was the first King in Thai history to be born outside of Thailand. When his father died when he was just 4 years old, his mother took it upon herself as a widow to raise him and his brother and sister alone. At the time King Ananda was appointed King, the family was living in Switzerland due to the unstable and unpredictable climate in both Thailand and the growing hostilities of the Imperial Japanese army who were gradually invading the surrounding countries in Southeast Asia. In 1938, thirteen-year-old King Ananda visited his country for the first time as King. After the end of World War II, King Ananda officially returned to Thailand with his family. Despite his initial experience with kingmanship, King Ananda quickly won the heart of Thai people longing for a king since the onslaught of the war. One of his most memorable acts included defusing the social, post-war tensions between ethnic Chinese and Thais in Sampheng Lane in Bangkok’s Chinatown. These traits of observation, sympathy, and mediation would later be adopted by his brother, King Bhumibol.
On June 9, 1946, tragedy struck the Royal family, as Prince Ananda was deceased on his bed. He was 20 years old. The throne remained vacant until the end of World War II, when King Bhumibol, at the age of 18, inherited the seat. During the time the two princes were away, Thailand had allied with both the Japanese army and the Allied powers. The former due to political pressures both externally and internally, but was later dismissed as the Thai regent had refused to sign a declaration declaring war on the Allies, later invalidating the war declaration made by then Prime Minister Phibun Songkram. The latter was an underground freedom movement that funneled secret information to both the US Office of Strategic Services and the British Intelligence, an act that would also leave to the pardoning of Thailand for wartime acts.
By May 5, 1950, King Bhumibol had taken his rightful seat as heir to the Thai throne, and crowned 9th king of the Chakri Dynasty. While King Bhumibol and other Thai kings no longer live in the physical world, it is important for both Thais and foreigners alike to remember their impact and legacy. They will forever live in the hearts of us all. Long live the King!
Baker, Chris, and Pasuk Phongpaichit. A history of Thailand. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Winichakul, Thongchai. "Siam’s Colonial Conditions and the Birth of Thai History." Unraveling Myths in Southeast Asian Historiography (2011): 23-45.
Neuman, Scott. “Royal Cremation In Thailand To End Year Of Mourning For Beloved King.” NPR, NPR, 26 Oct. 2017, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/10/26/560154819/royal-cremation-in-thailand-to-end-year-of-mourning-for-beloved-king.
Lefevre, Amy Sawitta. “Technicolor Thailand Is Back after a Black-Clad Mourning Year for...” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 30 Oct. 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-thailand-king/technicolor-thailand-is-back-after-a-black-clad-mourning-year-for-late-king-idUSKBN1CZ0A4.
Crossette, Barbara. “Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, People's King of Thailand, Dies After 7-Decade Reign.” The New York Times, 19 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/world/asia/thai-king-bhumibol-adulyadej-dies.html.
"Thailand applies sufficiency economy philosophy to promote sustainable development". Oxford Business Group. 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
Head, Jonathan. “How King Bhumibol Shaped Modern Thailand.” BBC News, BBC, 13 Oct. 2016, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33956560.
Nickii Wantakan Arcado
As February celebrates Black History Month, this article was written to honor and recognize the contributions, efforts, and sacrifices made by African Americans during WWII. Though serving under a country that treated them as second class citizens, African Americans continued to enlist in the U.S. military to serve their nation. This is their story.
The Ledo Road was a passageway located in Ledo, India that connected the countries of India, China, and Burma. The road was to serve as an alternative to the Burma Road that was cut off by the Japanese a few months prior. This new road would enable the Allied forces to deliver necessary wartime supplies to China and aid them in their fight against the Japanese.
Construction began in 1942 with 15,000 American troop members, 60% being African American. Along with the Black troop members, another 35,000 soldiers consisting of Indian, Chinese, and Burmese nationals, assisted in the construction of the road. The goal was to have the road begin in Ledo, India, cross over the Patkai Mountains (where passes were as high as 4,500 feet) and end at Kunming, China. By 1944, the road stretched 1,726 kilometers (1,072 miles), with 1,033 kilometers (642 mi) in Burma, 632 kilometers (393 mi) in China, and the remainder in India.
African Americans chose to travel to various areas in Asia to serve their country and fight for its freedom, despite not being offered the same freedom and rights at home. One of these locations included Ledo, India where the Ledo Road connecting India, Burma, and China was to be built. While traveling to Asia, African Americans were subjected to harsh, racial travel discrimination. Not only were Black soldiers forced to sleep in windowless, foul-smelling, lower levels of transport ships, but their meals consisted of leftover beans and cold pork. Other meals were also given to African Americans in smaller portions than their white counterpart who were served large, healthy portions of bacon and eggs. Instead of using retained fresh water, African American troops were also forced to shower with sea water as well as constrict themselves to narrow, uncomfortable places on the ship for longing.
On top of their discriminating travel experiences, African Americans were also exposed and met with unfavorable work conditions. Five months of the year were marked as monsoon season, and an average of 140 inches rain feel during construction each year until the road’s completion. The tools given to Black soldiers were also second-hand shovels, pickaxes, and bulldozers that were in need of repairs. This proved extremely difficult in terrain that consisted of jungles, mud rivers, swamps, and mountains. Soldiers were required to cut through roots, trees, and branches infested with mites and ticks, while also navigating around leeches and mosquitoes that spread malaria and other deadly diseases. On top of working 7 days a week, Black soldiers were also worked in humid temperatures that would reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Over 1,500 soldiers died during the construction of the road, with a majority from disease, infections, or equipment landslides.
African Americans nurses and doctors who served in areas surrounding the Ledo Road, a majority who were women, should also be recognized. Black soldiers did not have access to health care or emergency services until the last few years towards the end of the war, where an all-black unit of nurse barricades was set up to treat injured servicemen. Like the men, female nurses and doctors also served round the clock 7 days a week and also treated Indian and Chinese patients. When asked to segregate the hospitals and reserved bed for white soldiers, Dr. Wilbur Strickland, the commanding officer of the nursing unit, refused, citing that all soldiers equally shared pain, suffering, and hope throughout their time engineering a difficult military route, and thus, all deserve equal care and medical attention regardless of skin color or ethnicity.
Other African-American combat units that fought and served in the Pacific Theatre included the 93rd Infantry Division, the 24th Infantry Regiment (both colored segregated unit of the United States Army), ten anti-aircraft battalions, and one coast artillery battalion. The only African American to be awarded the Medal of Freedom in the Pacific Theatre was Private George Watson who served in the U.S. Army. While his ship, the SS Jacob was hit by Japanese bombers and abandoned, Watson remained in the water to assist his fellow soldiers into life rafts. Weakened by his efforts, he was dragged down by the sea and drowned. His body was never recovered and his medal was presented after his death.
After the completion of the Ledo Road, African Americans who returned home failed to receive recognition for their work, either in their labor for the Ledo Road or their efforts in Asia in general. In fact, when the road was completed in 1945, it was renamed “Stillwell Road” after Commander of the China-Burma-India Theater, Army Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell—with no description or written records on the Black individuals or company that ensured the successful construction of the road. It was not until 2004 that African American soldiers who built the Ledo Road were honored. During African American History Month observance at Florida A&M University, representatives of the U.S. Department of Defense publicly recognized African American survivors and their work in both India and Burma. By then, the American Forces Press Services reported, most of the veterans were dead and only 6 attended the ceremony in Tallahassee.
Black servicemen and women history continue to be placed on the backburner of American history. While the Ledo Road in one of many countless anecdotes of African American contributions during World War II, we hope that this story shines a light on our brothers and sisters of color who have risked their lives for the betterment of our country. We will forever remember their story. Happy Black History Month!
Braimah, Ayodale. “Black Soldiers and the Ledo Road (1942-1945) • BlackPast.” Redlining (1937- ) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed, 27 Jan. 2019, www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/black-soldiers-and-ledo-road-1942-1945/.
United States Department of Defense, 7 July 2004, archive.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=25745.
“Burma's Stilwell Road: A Backbreaking WWII Project Is Revived.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2008, www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-road30-2008dec30-story.html.
Steen, Shannon. Racial Geometries of the Black Atlantic, Asian Pacific and American Theatre. Springer, 2016.
Bielakowski, Alexander. African American Troops in World War II. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012.
Food and Snacks Invention Related to Pacific Asia War: Part 1- MOMOFUKU ANDO AND THE REVOLUTIONARY INSUTANTO-RĀMEN [INSTANT RAMEN]
by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
"Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat."
Postwar Japan was exemplified by remnants of torn buildings, broken windows, caused by Allied aerial bombs. One of the destroyed office building was owned by Taiwanese-Japanese Momofuku Ando, and with the devastation of his workspace and eventually the bankruptcy of his company, Ando became unemployed. While walking across postwar Japan, Ando noticed a line of people gathering around a pop-up (or rather, makeshift) ramen stand. Ando was confused as to why people would wait hours for noodles, as the Japanese also had access to wheat bread supplied by the U.S. After much deliberation, Ando realized that the Japanese populace was pulled towards noodles because of its familiarity with the country’s culture. Its warmth and rich broth flavor were the reasons the cuisine remains a Japanese favorite.
“It took 48 years of my life for me to come up with the idea of instant noodles. Each and every event in the past is connected to the present by invisible threads.”
But developing instant ramen was not an easy process. The first challenge he faced was the production of the ramen noodles itself. Noodle companies in Japan at the time were too small and too few, overall being incapable of satisfying supply needs. As such, rather than pair up with a company, Ando decided to build his own company and produce the ramen himself in a small shack behind his house.
The second challenge was figuring out how to preserve the ramen and cook the ramen. Ando discovered that flash-frying ramen noodles in tempura oil would harden the noodles, Ando then created tiny holes in the noodles, causing the noodles to expand and cook when hot water was added. Finally, in 1958, he perfected his original flavor (and the original instant ramen), chicken ramen. He explained his choice in using chicken soup as a base:
“Hindus may not eat beef and Muslims may not eat pork, but there is not a single culture, religion or country that forbids the eating of chicken.”
His company, Nissin, was created the same year. And the rest is history.
On January 5, 2007, Ando passed away in a hospital in his hometown. He was 96 years old and was survived by his wife Masako, two sons and a daughter. He was honored with multiple medals by the Japanese government, most notably, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, Second Class, in 2002, the second most prestigious award in Japan.
Today, Nissin instant ramen offers over 16 different flavors, including beef, shrimp, soy sauce, and chili.
An interactive museum to commemorate Ando’s landmark achievement was created in Ikeda of the Osaka Prefecture, Ando’s hometown. Exhibitions and attractions include the chicken ramen factory, which allows the guest to make ramen fresh by hand. Guests go through the kneading, spreading, steaming, seasoning, and drying process of Nissin ramen and learn about the flash frying method that allows ramen to preserve itself for several years. Another exhibition includes the My CUPNOODLES Factory where guests can create their own CUPNOODLES package for 350 yen (approximately $3.17).
A CupNoodles Museum was also built, located in the city of Yokohama featuring 4 stories of history and exhibition of the Nissin company and its founder. Both museum offer free admission. More information on the museums can be accessed here.
On March 5, 2015 Google celebrated the inventor’s 105th birthday and an animation as well as a brief description of his life and business accomplishments were featured on the front page (here).
While instant ramen has garnered a reputation for being a staple college student dinner (or lunch for that matter), the product’s ability to help millions of displaced people during the time of economic or environmental disasters--including the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster— is highly remarkable.
In Frederick Errington, Deborah Gewertz and Tatsuro Fujikura’s book, The Noodle Narratives, as of 2012, 100 billion serving of instant ramen has been fed to people all over the world. The book not only argues that the product help low-income works in both rich and poor countries, but the product is capable of being tweaked to adapt to various cultural tastes. Flavors such as spicy hot beef have been popular with areas of Southeast Asia, while shrimp and chicken sells higher in Latin American countries
Reading through Ando’s story there is no debate that his initial goal to feed the hungry in Post-War Japan, working hours in his backyard shed alone, and producing a mechanism that has been replicated by other companies (Even competitors like Maruchan and Sapporo Ichiban, Indomie from Indonesia, MAMA from Thailand, Shin Ramyun and Samyang from Korea) has cemented Nissin instant ramen as one of the world’s most important inventions.
Inspiration leads to invention. Tenacity is the breeding ground for inspiration. There can be no invention in the absence of tenacity.
“Momofuku Ando's 105th Birthday.” Google Search, Google, 5 Mar. 2015, www.google.com/doodles/momofuku-andos-105th-birthday
“Chicken Ramen Factory.” CUPNOODLES MUSEUM OSAKA IKEDA, www.cupnoodles-museum.jp/en/osaka_ikeda/attractions/cr-factory/.
Leibowitz, Karen, and Karen Leibowitz. “The Humble Origins of Instant Ramen: From Ending World Hunger to Space Noodles.” Gizmodo, Gizmodo.com, 18 June 2013, www.gizmodo.com/the-humble-origins-of-instant-ramen-from-ending-world-5814099
Errington, Frederick Karl, Fuzikura Tatsuro, and Deborah B. Gewertz. The Noodle Narratives: The Global Rise of an Industrial Food into the Twenty-First Century. University of California Press, 2013.
Hevesi, Dennis. “Momofuku Ando, 96, Dies; Invented Instant Ramen.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Jan. 2007, www.nytimes.com/2007/01/09/business/worldbusiness/09ando.html
by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
Compensation, apologies, and memorialization remain controversial when talking about corporate responsibilities post-World War II. To this day, former POWs and Holocaust survivors continue to fight for the private sector to acknowledge their role and complicity in utilizing slave labor to their monetary and economic advantage. Social reconciliation, in essence, is the recognition of past actions and taking future initiatives and as such, listed below are companies that were participated in slave labor during World War II.
BMW [Bayerische Motoren Werke]
BMW was significant in supplying arms, airplanes, engines, and motorcycle parts to the Nazi Regime. One example includes the engine for the Focke Wulf FW190 fighter plane, leading to BMW replacing Mercedes as the leading engine and industrial producer for the German military. By 1945, 90% of BMW’s Munich-Allach plant (by then the largest aircraft engine factory in German) was operated by foreign workers, concentration camp detainees, and POWs. Starting from only 1,000 in 1939, estimates have shown that over 17,000 individuals worked at the plant by the end of the war.
A documentary titled The Silence of the Quandts broadcasted in 2007 delves into the role of Herbert Quandt--an investor and industrialized who purchased a controlling interest in BMW--his family, and their role in introducing the use of slave laborers to the German Reich. After the film was shown, family members announced their plan to fund research and investigations to look into their family’s past actions. A 1,500-page document lists that in addition to their history of forced labor, the family also took over Jewish businesses. The family continues to be one of the wealthiest families in Germany.
Beginning in 1983, the company took steps in formal apologies and memorialization. It was the first industrial corporation to initiate and encourage public debates as well as publish a novel on the corporation's involvement with slave labor from concentration camps. In 1999, the company founded the “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” foundation whose goal is to issue compensation to former POWs and forced laborers. During the company's 100th year anniversary (in 2016), representatives also apologized and admitted regrets, for the company’s past actions.
One significant automobile companies that used concentration camps to house POW detainees was Audi (f.k.a Auto Union). POWs were forced to produce tank and aircraft engine to assist the Nazi war effort. Over 18,000 workers were tasked with building an underground factory in order to house the tank engines, with 3,700 detainees being forcibly recruited from concentration camps. It is estimated that around 4,500 workers died during the process.
Like its predecessors BMW and Volkswagen, the company has taken noteworthy steps in ensuring that its tainted history has not been forgotten. Actions have included building memorials, establishing exhibitions, and bringing in outside historians to investigate crimes made by former bosses and executive members of Audi. Such investigations include the 500-page report by Martin Kukowski and Rudolf Boch, revealing the exact names and locations of the labors camps used by Audi.
While large, international German brands have made attempts at publishing their company’s history, historian Rudolf Boch noted that there are still various other smaller firms in Italy, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic that failed to follow the former’s footsteps. In Japan alone, over 12,000 POWs that include American, British, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino detainees are estimated to have been forced into both corporate slave labor during the 1940s. It is also estimated that 1,100 have died via corporate laboring. In addition, the history of larger firms in Japan (otherwise known as ‘zaibatsu’ [財閥] or ‘financial cliques’) have largely been unpublicized. Some examples include the following:
East Asia Development Board a.k.a Kōain (興亜院)
A cabinet-level government agency during the periods of 1938 - 1942, Kōain was initially created for the purpose of managing and coordinating Japan’s international relations and policies with China. These policies included industrial, economic, and commercial development in China in exchange for citizen and corporate support in Japanese occupied territories. When the company was taken over by the Imperial Japanese Army during the war, the corporation adopted forced labor practices, specifically in enslavement in mines and weaponry production. Furthermore, in 1942, the corporation was merged into the Ministry of Greater East Asia a.k.a Daitōashō [大東亜省]—another cabinet-level ministry that sought to oversee all territories obtained by the Imperial Army in the Pacific Theatre and coordinate efforts to lead to the development of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Manchuria Industrial Company [満州重工業開発]
Formerly a joint venture with the Nissan conglomerate and located in the Empire of Manchuria (Manchukuo), the Manchuria Industrial Company (MIC) was created for the purpose of the economic development and industrialization of Manchukuo. Several Chinese and Korean slave laborers were forced into technical, logistical, and blue-collar work, resulting in the company’s quick growth during the war.
Despite this, some Japanese firms have taken initiative in issuing official apologies on behalf of impacted individuals and family members. One particular Japanese firm that has begun to apologize for wartime slave labor is Mitsubishi.
In 2015, the company, f.k.a Mitsubishi Mining formally apologized to U.S. POWs for their past history of forcing detainees to work its mining and mineral extraction operations. This marks the first major Japanese company to apologize for the use of corporate slave labor during the time of war. By the end of 1945, Mitsubishi Mining detained 876 American POWs. A recorded number of 27 Americans died in Mitsubishi’s labor camp. There continue to be demands for the company to apologize to other POWs, as it is estimated that over 2,000 POWs were held throughout the company’s various labor campsites. In particular, Chinese POWs and their descendants have filed a lawsuit against Mitsubishi in 2014, demanding corporate compensation. In 2016, a settlement was reached in which the company paid 100,000 yuan (roughly $15,000 dollars) to each Chinese victim and their families. While the company noted it would seek to locate all victims associated with the company’s past, there has also been pushbacks from other companies who use postwar peace treaties as reasoning on how wartime compensations have already concluded under the Japanese government. Other arguments include the 1972 treaty between Japan and China, which states that China has waived its right to pursue compensation.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that some corporations are headed in the right direction. Seen in the picture below, Senior Mitsubishi Executive Hikaru Kimura (left) is apologizing and shaking hands with James Murph (right), a former POW. The ceremony was held at the Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.)
You can read more about Japanese zaibatsus and their role in corporate slave labor in another one of our published articles here.
Ethier, Beth, and Beth Ethier. “Mitsubishi Apologizes for Using U.S. POWs as Slave Labor in World War II.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 20 July 2015, www.slate.com/news-and-politics/2015/07/mitsubishi-apology-slave-labor-company-admits-using-american-prisoners-of-war-in-world-war-ii-mines.html.
Brook, Timothy. Japanese Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Local Elites in Wartime China. Harvard University Press. 2001.
Li, David K., and David K. Li. “BMW Admits 'Regret' over Using Nazi Slave Labor during WWII.” New York Post, New York Post, 1 Nov. 2016, www.nypost.com/2016/03/07/bmw-admits-regret-over-using-nazi-slave-labor-during-wwii/.
Gumbel, Peter. “Some Companies Still Struggle with Their Dark WWII History.” The Japan Times, 10 June 2014, www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/06/10/commentary/world-commentary/companies-still-struggle-dark-wwii-history/#.XF-4BhNKhsM.
Staff, Toi. “German Car Maker Audi Reveals Nazi Past.” The Times of Israel, 27 May 2014, www.timesofisrael.com/german-car-maker-audi-reveals-nazi-past/.
“Nazi Goebbels' Descendants Are Hidden Billionaires.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com, 27 Aug. 2017, www.jpost.com/International/Nazi-Goebbels-descendants-are-hidden-billionaires-503531.
Researched by Jessica Leung
After WWII, Japan’s economy boomed: it rivaled the US in economic recovery in just 80 years up until the end of the Cold War era. Japan rose from the devastating destruction to recovery in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to becoming one of the top performing economy in the world. Looking at Japan’s economic growth, it is hard to imagine that it once suffered from being on the losing side of WW2 with most citizens of its nation barely had their basic needs met. Japan’s westernization, military growth, defeat, and economic growth were products of interaction with the United States since Matthew Perry showed up at its pier on the very day of July 8th, 1853 forcing isolated Japan to open up to trade with the United States.
The trading with the West led to Japan wanting to prove itself to the world. Hence, it quickly industrialized to catch up with the West and became the first country from the East to defeat a Western power in the Russo-Japanese War. However, the isolated island was running out of resources to grow its empire and started its invasion of neighboring countries such as the Korean Peninsula and China. During WW2, it even stretched its empire all across Southeast Asia occupying Singapore, Philippines, Dutch Indies, and Burma.
It wasn’t until after the second atomic bomb in Hiroshima did Hirohito decided to surrender during World War 2. Right after the surrender of the Empire of Japan, the United States occupying led by General MacArthur led the Allies in the occupation and rehabilitation of Japan with widespread military, political, economic, and social reform, and unlike Germany, the US occupation of Japan was indirect, meaning that the Japanese government still existed as a puppet government. Japan was determined to emerge as an economic success after its humiliating defeat reluctantly allying itself with the very nations that defeated them during the war.
During the war, the United States had sunk all of the Japanese military and commercial ships in a sea lane blockage, leading Japan to have lost the means to transporting energy and materials between the island to its colony and occupied areas. This was one of the most effective ways to lead Japan to the loss of its war. Also, the U.S. had also bombed most of the Japanese major cities. One of the largest air raids was conducted in Tokyo near the end of the war where 100,000 people were trapped in the fire and killed within a few hours. It costed almost as much damage as the two other atomic bombs. The atomic bombs did not affect the Japanese production capacity as much as it had impacted its national psychologically. The surviving factories and railroads were defunct from the aerial bombings, and with the lack of input as well, it was doomed for an economic shortage.
In 1946, a year after Japan surrendered, there was a food shortage. Food was rationed for everyone in families and there were black markets that popped up everywhere. There were reports that people who did not go to the black market died of starvation. Soldiers who returned home were not only starving from the lack of food, but there was a lack of jobs for them as well. Unemployment and inflation became a huge problem in Japan. Even the black market suffered from inflation as the government kept printing money.
The United States occupation of Japan’s goal shifted from demilitarizing to helping their economy as Japan was in such desperate needs economic stability. By 1948, a US banker, Joseph Dodge came up with an economic reform called the 1948 Dodge Line. The main points were to balance the national budget by reducing debt and lower inflation, come up with a more efficient tax collection plan, dissolve the Reconstruction Finance Bank due to its uneconomical loans, decrease the scope of government intervention, and to fix the exchange rate to 360 yen to 1 US dollar to keep Japanese export prices low. Note that he focused on privatizing industries and reduced the government’s involvement in the economy.
Similar to many other nations who tried to stop the inflation, the nation faced a recession due to the shock on the economic activity. The Bank tried to print more money against Dodge’s recommendation when the recession was felt really hard in Japan. However, another big event happened by 1950 which secured Japan’s economic activity as well as leveraged its position with the United States during the Cold War. This event was the Korean War.
The Korean War in 1950 allowed the Japanese to supply manufactured weapons using their vulnerability to its economic advantage that stabilized its factories.
By 1951, Japan became the lead in the world of shipbuilding supplies that boasted 1% control of the industry nationally that increased national wealth. Factories that previously manufactured wartime commodities started producing items of every-day use such as motorcycles and cars. Technological companies that are still influential today are the leading brands of electronics. Honda (1955), Toshiba (1939), and Sony (1946) among many others are the best- known companies that were born out of the post-war industrialization still influencing the way consumers purchase our electronics today.
Alexander, J. Arthur. “In the Shadow of the Miracle. The Japanese Economy Since the End of the High- Speed Growth” Lexington Books, (2002).
Chung, William K., and Denison, Edward F. “How Japan’s Economy Grew So Fast” Washington Press. (1976).
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Realizing their gradual defeat by U.S. forces during the closing months of World War II, General Tomoyuki Yamashita hid his war loot throughout multiple underground tunnels in the Philippines. Almost 70 years later, treasure hunters, conspiracy theorist and even government officials continue to search for its existence.
Tomoyuki Yamashita–a general in the Imperial Japanese Army–and his forces spent over 8 years pillaging through Southeast Asia riches, simultaneously committing war crimes of mass murder and gang rape. Items were stolen from banks, museums, temples, and depositories, with items ranging from gold, jewelry, to ancient religious figurines. Initially, the war loot was said to be have been held in Singapore, but when General Yamashita assumed command of Japanese forces in the Philippines in 1944, the treasures were later transported there for his supervision.
Yamashita’s goal was to ship the treasure from the Philippines to Japan using the Philippines Sea, a route which gave Japan access to the Dutch East Indies as well as other lines of supply and communication between the Japanese islands to conquered territories in Southeast Asia. The remaining loot would then be transported after the end of the war.
By 1945 U.S. forces were closing in on Japanese forces in the Pacific Theatre. Multiple navy submarines and airplanes sunk a large number of Japanese merchant ships, some which were alleged to have contained a majority of the loot. In response, Emperor Hirohito tasked his brother, Prince Yasuhito Chichibu, to head a secret organization called Kin No Yuri (translated to ‘The Golden Lily’). The organization’s name was later synonymous to the mission itself, a mission which involved building a system of complex tunnels beneath various Japanese-occupied islands in the Philippines. Over 175 tunnels were said to have been built during this rushed time frame by allied POWs and enslaved Filipinos (coined ‘Romusha’ by the Japanese).
While experts argue that the treasure was a mere myth, two authors Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave, have written books to support the treasure’s existence. The Seagraves, both American historians, write in their book The Yamato Dynasty: The Secret History of Japan's Imperial Family (2000) and Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold (2003), that many who know the treasure’s whereabouts either died during the war or executed for war crimes in Allied courts. Yamashita himself was convicted of war crimes by the U.S. Army and then executed in the Philippines on February 1946.
In addition, the Seagraves also claimed that American Military Intelligence were well aware of the war loot prior to Yamashita’s execution. Knowing that a public demand for the loot’s whereabouts during a wartime trial would seem unfavorable to an international audience, the Seagraves argued that American operatives, lead by Edward Lansdale, colluded with Hirohito and other Japanese authorities to conceal the treasure’s existence and instead, use it to finance U.S. covert efforts during the Cold War.
In March 1988, a major lawsuit in the state of Hawaii, U.S.A was filed by treasure hunter Rogelio Roxas against the president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos. Roxas argued that he met the son of a former member of the Japanese army in Baguio City in 1961 that helped him map the location of the loot. Assisted by a man who was said to be Yamashita’s translator and interpreter, Roxas visited an underground chamber in Baguio City in 1971, where he claimed to have found Japanese remnants such as samurai swords, bayonets, and skeletal remains in Japanese uniforms. Digging deeper, he found a golden Buddha statue (estimated to have weighed 1,000 kilograms) along with stacked crates containing gold bars. Roxas claimed to have resealed the chamber until he was able to find out how to transport the crates and hid the statue at his home in Aurora Hill.
Shortly after this, Roxas noted, President Ferdinand Marcos learned of Roxas’ discovery and ordered him beaten and arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Service. The statue was also seized. In tangent, Marcos later called for martial law in the Philippines in 1962, further solidifying his power. When Roxas was freed in 1974, he went into hiding and later resurfaced to file his lawsuit in the United States. Although Roxas died a day before his trial in 1993 under suspicious circumstances, his family along with his company, The Golden Budha Corporation (created for the purpose of asserting his rights to the treasure) won the lawsuit three years later winning them $22 billion in compensatory damages, later increasing to $40 billion dollars after interest, then-largest judicial judgment ever awarded in history.
However, in 1998, the Hawaii Supreme Court revoked its initial award, arguing that there was insufficient evidence of the overall treasure and instead, ordered a new hearing on the value of the Buddha statue itself and the 17 bars of gold hidden at Roxas’ home previously. Several years later, the final judgment was made against Imelda Marcos, (who, in 1992, claimed that the Yamashita treasure accounted for a majority of her husband’s wealth) and the family along with their estate was awarded $6 million dollars on account of human rights abuse.
Roxas’s story would be the closest event in history that historians have for the validation of the existence of Yamashita’s gold. Whether or not this story or anecdotes from anyone for that matter was the truth, the mystery behind a 74-year-old treasure has yet to be uncovered. For now, the story has adopted legendary status, putting it alongside the El Dorado the City of Gold and the Crown Jewels of England.
The Unredacted. “The Legend of Golden Lily: Yamashita's Gold.” Theunredacted.com, The Unredacted, 9 May 2018, theunredacted.com/the-legend-of-golden-lily-yamashitas-gold/.
Seagrave, Sterling, and Peggy Seagrave. Gold warriors: America's secret recovery of Yamashita's gold. Verso, 2003.
Seagrave, Sterling, and Peggy Seagrave. The Yamato dynasty: the secret history of Japan's imperial family. Random House Digital, Inc., 2001.
"Supreme Court of Hawaii, Roxas v. Marcos, November 17, 1998". Uniset.ca. Retrieved 2012-03-26
Cabreza, Vincent. “Yamashita Treasure' 70 Years After.” Inquirer News TRANSCRIPT Dutertes 2nd State of the Nation Address Comments, Inquirer News, September 8, 2015, newsinfo.inquirer.net/720070/yamashita-treasure-70-years-after.
Press, From Associated. “Firm Awarded $22 Billion From Marcos Estate Over Stolen Treasure.”, Los Angeles Times, 21 July 1996, articles.latimes.com/1996-07-21/news/mn-26520_1_treasure-hunter.
*Halmoni means “grandmother” in Korean. The victims are often addressed as “grandmothers” because the young girls and women who were once sex slaves had grown old by the time the inhumane crimes committed against them were made known to the world. Bok-Dong Kim Halmoni often identified herself as a butterfly freely flying, rising from the bondage of suffering.
This video is the last sit-down interview of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni.
The post below is translated from the Korean Council* http://womenandwar.net/kr/?ckattempt=2
Life of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni
1926: Born in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province
1940: At the age of 14, forcibly taken as the Japanese military ‘comfort woman’ by the Japanese military to China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, through the invasion route of the Japanese Military
1945: Disguised as a nurse and labored in the 10th Infantry Hospital in Singapore under the command of the 16th Headquarter of the Japanese Military, was abandoned and imprisoned in the U.S. military prison camp
1947: At the age of 22, returned home after 8 years since her mobilization as Japanese military ‘comfort women’
March, 1992: Spoke out as a former Japanese military ‘comfort women’ and began activism
August, 1992: Testified at the 1st Asian Solidarity Conference for the Resolution of the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
June, 1993: Attended and testified at the International Human Rights Convention in Vienna, Austria
2000: Participated as one of the plaintiffs in the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery and testified with written documents
March, 2011: Proposed and donated to the fundraising campaign for victims of Tohoku earthquakes and tsunami in Japan
March 8th, 2012: With the Korean Council, established the Butterfly Fund to support victims of sexual violence in conflict
July 30th, 2012: Received Women of Courage Award from the Glendale City Council, California, U.S.
2012~2016: Carried out international campaigns at the UNHRC and in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Norway, Japan to promote a world without war or victims of sexual violence in conflict
July 30th, 2013: Attended the opening ceremony of the Statue of Peace in Glendale City, California, which is the first Statue of Peace established abroad
March 7th, 2014: Stood in solidarity with the victims of sexual violence by the Korean military during the U.S. War in Vietnam through a video message
May 2015: Selected in the “100 Heros Pour la Liberte de la Presse” for the 30th anniversary of Reporters Without Borders and the 70th anniversary ofAFP
June 25th, 2015: Donated 50,000,000 won to the Butterfly Fund for scholarship for children in war and armed conflict regions
December 10th, 2015: Received Human Rights Award of Korea by the Korean National Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights
July 6th, 2017: Delivered Kim Bok-dong Scholarship to two high school students of Chosen Gakko (school for Korean-Japanese students)
*Chosen gakko, school for Korean-Japanese students, were excluded from the tuition subsidy program since the Abe Shinzo Government
August 2017: Pledged to donate rest of her belongings after death
September 26, 2017: Was inducted to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Hall of Fame
November 23, 2017: Donated 10,000,000 won to help the victims of an earthquake in Pohang, South Korea
November 25, 2017: Received Women’s Human Rights Award from the Foundation for Justice and Remembrance for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
November 27, 2017: Donated the entirety of her award (50,000,000 won) to the Foundation for Justice and Remembrance for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan in order to establish Kim Bok-dong Peace Prize - the first receipient was Acan Sylvia Obal of Uganda, who sought to raise awareness of sexual violence in conflict and support victims of sexual violence in conflict around the world
December 10, 2017: Along with the Korean Council, was indcuted to the Gender Justice Legacy Wall by the international human rights organization Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice
June 9, 2018: Attended the Kibotane (Seed of Hope) Conference, spoke, and awarded scholarships to students from chosen gakko
December 10, 2018: Was appointed as the honorary president of Kim Bok-dong’s Hope
November 22, 2018: Donated 50,000,000 won to Kim Bok-dong’s Hope to support chosen gakko
January 2, 2019: Received the first Person of Righteousness Prize and donated the prize of 5,000,000 won to Kim Bok-dong’s Hope
Message of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni
Kim Bok-dong halmoni was one of many girls in Korea who were forcibly taken to battlefields as the Japanese military sex slave. She was taken at the age of 14 and came back after 8 years.As a survivor of the war, she represented numerous victims who could not survive or who lived in silence. Halmoni was a peace and human rights activist who demanded a formal and sincere apology and reparations from the Japanese Government. In addition to trying to resolve the issues surrounding the Japanese military sexual slavery, she also led the movement to combat the perpetuating sexual violence in conflict as the Peace Butterfly.
Kim Bok-dong halmoni attended the Wednesday Demonstration every week, meeting students and citizens and calling for a world in which everyone can live together peacefully. She warmly greeted and encouraged activists from Japan and urged international visitors to create a peaceful world without war that does not create any more victims of sexual violence. Kim Bok-dong halmoni's relentless efforts and activism are well-reflected in her statements below:
“I am a victim of Japanese military sexual slavery. I fight in front of the Japanese Embassy every Wednesday, demanding the restoration of our dignity and human rights.And I understand how much the women across the world who are victims of sexual violence in conflict like us still suffer. I want to help them. —Kim Bok-dong halmoni during a press conference regarding the establishment of the Butterfly Fund on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2012
“Although I suffered as a Japanese military sex slave, as a Korean citizen, I apologize to the women who suffered sexual violence by the Korean soldiers during the U.S. War in Vietnam. I will support your living through out your life with the Butterfly Fund. We should all work together to ensure a world without war for our future generations, so I also urge every country to join in their efforts.” —Kim Bok-dong halmoni in a message of apology and solidarity with the Vietnamese victims of sexual violence by the Korean soldiers, March 8, 2014
“Our country (South and North Korea) should collaborate and be unified so that our descendants won’t suffer what I suffered. It’s my wish that the future generation live without any worries in a peaceful world without war.” —Kim Bok-dong halmoni at the Wednesday Demonstration, October 5, 2016
As her life work indicates, Kim Bok-dong halmoni elevated the awareness on the issues of Japanese military sexual slavery and promoted dialogues on prevention of sexual violence in conflict internationally. The survivors of sexual violence in conflict from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, address Kim Bok-dong halmoni as “our hero,” “our mama,” and “our hope.” The movement led by the survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery unites the victims of sexual violence in conflict and spreads the movement stronger, louder, and further. Transnational solidarity beyond borders is a new hope for preventing sexual violence in conflict and creating a peaceful world.