Amazing link up after 62 years

-- by BH

It has been 62 years since that fatal day when my father and many others in Shinsei Maru lost their lives. Thanks to Dr. Wu's book (吳平城醫師"軍醫日記") that I finally knew the name of that sunken cargo ship and many details of unfortunate bombings around Shinsei Maru (神靖丸)at that time. It was amazing that Dr. Wu wrote the book according to his diary after 40 more years. And the diary was with him while he was floating around Cape Saint Jacques (聖雀岬)after the sinking of Shinsei Maru.

All I knew from my mom was the only survivor physician from Taichung group wouldn't want to talk about it when asked; somehow the trauma was too severe that he became mentally unstable and unwilling to talk about any happenings about Shinsei Maru. When Dr. Wu's book was published, my mentality was kind of denial; I told myself I didn't want to know more about my father's sufferings in that fatal sea journey. Strangely enough there was no wounded soldier for him and other physicians to serve on that ship.

Neither did I know that an eye doc far away had probably exhausted googling all he could about Shinsei Maru and finally in this past summer, out of curiosity, he used Chinese name of that ship--神靖丸 to google. To his big surprise, up popped my article"母親坎坷的一生" on the top list as the only exact matching link. http://www.ecanaan.org/taiwanese/mother2002/MomsLifeStory.htm I've been writing many articles in memory of my parents all these past years but that was the only article I put the Chinese name 神靖丸 in, to associate with tragic horrific 911 NY Twin Towels' collapses. ( Actually, since I don't know Japanese, I hadn't even known the English name of 神靖丸is Shinsei Maru until this eye doc informed me later.) I was not aware of my article being uploaded to my church's website because I wrote it long ago in 2002 Mother's day special issue; that particular past Mother's day special was also the only past issue that got uploaded and hidden in my former church website at that time. What a happy coincidence!

Thus I've got linked up amazingly with this eye doc in Aug. after 62 years. This link-up in emails is only possible at this internet age. I found out googling search is really very powerful. This eye doc has informed me the most details of Shinsei Maru I've ever known. For his efforts to reach me and provide me with all the information about my dad's sunken ship, I am forever thankful to God and to him. Now he has kindly set up this blog in memory of our fathers, I'd hope we can link up more family survivors of that doomed ship to share our similar misfortunes. I appreciate very much that he will write down all the information he has gathered so many years about Shinsei Maru in this blog. I am also very grateful that he has set up a blog forum for discussing faith issues. ( http://themindofgod.freeforums.org )

Although I still don't understand totally why my dad died untimely like that, I know clearly without God's love, my mom and my family couldn't walk through this tragic loss of my dad. God has promised not to leave us as orphans and widows and indeed He did not leave us alone. His grace is much greater than any tragedies in our life.

14 則留言:

Patrick Cowsill 提到...

Have relatives of the victims here ever sought compensation from the Japanese government?

EyeDoc 提到...

Seeking compensation from a defeated nation which was not even able to take care of its own people at that time?

The Japanese government, through the Japanese Red Cross, did disburse some token compensation in 1988. This was after years of lobbying by Prof Wang Yu-der et al. See one of the posts on 12/26/07 戰後賠償 for details.

Patrick Cowsill 提到...

"Seeking compensation from a defeated nation which was not even able to take care of its own people at that time?"

Isn't that what the Japanese apologists have been saying for the last 60 years? They hide under this rationale, and also that they have supposedly "paid reparations" already. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is how they avoided paying Brit POWs, and why the British government was forced to pony up compensation on its own.

I hope this issue isn't dead, and that Japan is still held accountable for its war atrocities - not just in all the literature this has generated, but via financial compensation and official apologies.

EyeDoc 提到...

That was a direct quote from my mother's autobiography. It was factual in the late 1940's. Although I am not surprised if the sentiment has been hijacked by the apologists. In the absence of organized efforts and the indifference of the KMT Gov't, there was not much the Shinsei Maru families could do.

The Japanese Gov't did pay the British Far East POWs a laughable sum in the 50s. I am not sure the legal basis for Tony Blair to pay the POWs out of the British coffer. There must have been a treaty or an agreement between Churchill and the post-war Japanese Gov't not to further pursue the issue?

It all comes down to fairness which, unfortunately, is not something you can force out the by-the-book Japanese bureaucrats, let alone a formal apology.

The Brits brought a lawsuit to Tokyo High Court in 2006. Don't know what has transpired.

Patrick Cowsill 提到...

"I am not sure the legal basis for Tony Blair to pay the POWs out of the British coffer."

I remember Blair saying that Japan had already paid war reparations to the British government. If they really want, governments can force the Japanese to apologize. But I guess that's not really an apology, is it?

When did your mom write her autobiography - the late forties?

EyeDoc 提到...

The Brit POWs are looking specifically for 謝罪 - a formal apology - from Japan. The latter can only offer at most a mild 道歉 which Tony Blair would have received. These are all apologies yet miles apart in depth and sincerity. 道歉 goes with a bow. 謝罪 is accompanied by acts of contrition, including, in the old days, 切腹. You can probably see the impossibility from the Japanese point of view.

My mother wrote her autobiography in 1990, two years after discovering that my father and his colleagues were enshrined in Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo. She gave a detailed account of her life including the late 1940s.

Patrick Cowsill 提到...

"The Brit POWs are looking specifically for 謝罪 - a formal apology - from Japan. The latter can only offer at most a mild 道歉 which Tony Blair would have received."

If they get a hsieh fei right now, I bet it's only coming via pressure from the British government. The British government could probably get one if the political will were there. My point is this: is that an apology? We ought to look into the meaning of this word.

EyeDoc 提到...

It depends on what the Brits are looking for. They may get a "申し訳ありませんでした" (mushiwake arimasen deshita), a "お詫び" (owabi), or a cursory "謝罪 or しゃざい" (sha-zai). To demand reparation, an ultimate 謝罪 is required.

Patrick Cowsill 提到...

No, that's not what I mean. A forced apology is not an apology.

I doubt the British government would do anything to "embarrass" the Japanese government in this way, over this issue which they can already excuse as "dead" or "concluded". That the Japanese government is not embarrassed enough by its own behavior in the past is just something for people like you or me to ponder.

EyeDoc 提到...

But that is exactly my point: a from the heart (unforced) apology is the ultimate 謝罪 which won't be forthcoming unless there is a revolutionary political reform. The West had already made sure, in 1945, that that would not happen. As a result, the Japanese bureaucrats simply continued on their old ways. We are simply witnessing the consequences. The British gov't can try and embarrass the Japanese gov't all they want. It won't change a thing.

Patrick Cowsill 提到...

I guess this xiefei makes an interesting point about culture. To a Westerner, apologies are pretty meaningless unless they are sincere. I'm guessing what you mean is that a forced apology to a Japanese is shameful and therefore powerful. Is that it?

I doubt the British government would like to embarrass an important ally like Japan right now. The US wouldn't either, especially as Japan is the obvious counterbalance to China. The Cold War in this way also saved Japan, as the US did not want to embarrass a "friend" at that time.

It will be interesting to watch an ex-POW like John McCain maneuver, should he win come November. On the one hand, he is a product of the Cold War, a person who believes in shoring up traditional Asian alliances. But I can't help think that POWs and their grievances would resonate deeply on a personal level.

I wonder if you're watching this election with the same sorts of questions/interest.

EyeDoc 提到...

More on apologies:

(1) Apologies must be accompanied by sincerity - true in the East (including Japan) as well;

(2) A forced apology is not an apology, in fact, in the East the shame of being forced necessitates a revenge; however,

(3) "謝罪 with sincerity" to correct the past wrongs is on a scale that simply cannot be handled by Japan.

Observation (3) is not based on sympathy but on political reality.

Of course those of us who grew up during the Cold War era are watching the presidential election with great interest. Let's just say that, contrary to common belief, time does NOT heal everything. John McCain's POW experience will most definitely find its way into his decision-making if he is elected. Whether this will involve shoring up the Asian allies is hard to say.

Incidentally, his grandfather commanded Task Force 38 which torpedoed Shinsei Maru on Jan 12, 1945 - detailed elsewhere in this blog.

Patrick Cowsill 提到...

Hey Eyedoc,

This is fascinating to say the least. I'd be interested to read up on the topic. Any recommendations?


EyeDoc 提到...


There are some articles written in English.

The first one requires some knowledge in Japanese; although not absolutely necessary as I am only making a point: Look up "Japanese apologies" under wikipedia and compare the Japanese and the English versions, you'll see the difficulties in translating phrases involving apologies from Japanese to English.

In any case, despite the long list of "apologies" from Japanese Gov't officials, "Sha-zai" never appeared in any of the statements.

Sha-zai also has lost its meaning in modern times. It now entails, for example, at a press conference, someone bows to the public to sha-zai for committing some wrongs. This is only a formality with zero substance. Occasionally, the old tradition surfaces. A recent example: the president of a rice retailer company in Nara hanged himself for distributing the pesticide-tainted rice (事故米):


This reparation with one's life is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. A very-well researched article is here:


Even though this story is well-known to the Westerners, it has never truly registered in their minds. For people pressing for a "formal" Japanese apology, it is best that they do their homework first or risk disappointment.