Press release:

MSGR. SCHRAVEN FOUNDATION: THE ACTION OF THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER ABE SHOCKING FOR CHINESE PEOPLE AND FAMILY OF MSGR. SCHRAVEN AND COMPANIONS.

The Msgr. Schraven Foundation in the Netherlands has seen as shocking the visit of prime minister Abe of Japan to the Yasikuni temple in the heart of Tokio of December 26. In this temple the soldiers who died for their fatherland, among them the soldiers who kinderen aan het werk died during the Second World War in South-East, are commemorated and honoured as heroes. One of them is the Japanese general Tani who was responsible for the murder of Msgr. Schraven and his 8 companions in China. After the war this general was sentenced to death in Nanking by the ‘International War Tribunal’, because of his unspeakable atrocities in China, and was publicly shot to death in 1947. To honour these soldiers in this way is a hard blow in the face of countless Chinese who still suffer from the painful consequences of them. It is also a great blow for the Msgr. Schraven Foundation. Msgr. Schraven had taken into his mission property between 20-30,000 Chinese refugees during the attack by the Japanese army on the town of Zhending. He refused resolutely to enter the town after the conquest of the town at the request of Japanese soldiers in order to make available2-300 girls and women in order to accommodate the triumphant Japanese soldiers. He paid for it with his life. Together with 8 other Europeans he was burned alive that same evening. Afterwards the Japanese army refused systematically to offer excuses for this martyrdom. It led to a serious conflict with France and the Netherlands, but Japan refused to budge. This posture still exists today. Unfortunately the Japanese authorities will even now not acknowledge the responsibility for the criminal actions during the Second World War. This in contrast with the Japanese social organisations like the Catholic Church, which decided to offer excuses. Last year the Japanese priest Fukasumi read out a letter on behalf of the archbishop of Osaka, Msgr. Ikenaga, during a memorial service in Broekhuizenvorst, of the murder of Msgr. Schraven and co-martyrs 75 years ago. On behalf of the Japanese Bishops Conference the archbishop offered emphatic excuses for what crimes compatriots in South-East Asia had committed, and he also asked for pardon for the murders on October 9, 1937. All those present were moved when the Chinese archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai and the Japanese priest Fukasumi exchanged kisses of peace. Instead of excuses for which the people of South-East Asia have been waiting for decennia, the present prime minister Abe put salt into the wounds.

We deplore most strongly that the Japanese prime minister ‘for internal political reasons’ visits exactly that temple and in doing so is a barrier against reconciliation between the peoples.

Fr. Wiel Bellemakers CM Provincial Superior of the Dutch Vincentians
Mr. Vincent Hermans, secretary Msgr. Schraven Foundation

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