Loss of Transitional Justice: Japanese Victim of 228 Incident is Rejected Compensation from Taiwanese Government

Loss of Transitional Justice:  Japanese Victim of 228 Incident is Rejected Compensation from Taiwanese Government
Photo Credit: 尤美女立委FB專頁
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The Ministry of the Interior said that after the break-off of the diplomatic relationship between Taiwan and Japan, there was no precedent to be conformed to, and in situations of Taiwanese citizens applying for compensation to Japanese government, like the cases of comfort women during the WWII, no compensation was granted. The Ministry of the Interior thus decided to reject the application of compensation on grounds of the principle of equality and mutual benefits.

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Keisho Aoyama, son of the first Japanese 228 Incident victim recognized by the Taiwanese government, Esaki Aoyama, has applied for NT$ 6 million (approximately US$ 18,500) of compensation to the Memorial Foundation of 228. The Ministry of the Interior rejected Aoyama due to lack of the principle of equality and mutual benefits between Taiwan and Japan.

On September 15, Keisho Aoyama held a press conference with his lawyer, human rights groups and lawmaker You Mei-nu to announce his determination to apply for administrative litigation. He accused the government of Taiwan and asked them to pay attention to the historical truth and the transitional justice, and not to put national interests before justice and human rights.

The Ministry of Culture reports, an estimation of about twenty to fifty thousand victims were affected in the 228 Incident in 1947. In addition to the Taiwanese victims, there were also many from Ryukyu (Okinawa) who frequently traveled to Taiwan.

Witnesses say these people were fired by machine-guns and thrown into the sea. Some were put into sacks alive and sunken into the ocean. The floating corpses that filled the Keelung port were so many that even the ships could not move.

Coolloud reports, Esaki Aoyama who was one of the victim from Ryukyu, was on a ship to return to Taiwan from Japan when the 228 Incident broke out. The army of the Nationalist government attacked the ship just after it docked in the Keelung port. Aoyama was only 38 years old when he was killed.

Newtalk reports, in 2013, Esaki Aoyama’s son Keisho Aoyama requested the ROC government to recognize his father as a foreign victim in the 228 Incident and applied for compensation.

In December of 2014, the ROC government recognized Aoyama as a victim of the 228 Incident. But the Ministry of the Interior said that after the break-off of the diplomatic relationship between Taiwan and Japan, there was no precedent to be conformed to, and in situations of Taiwanese citizens applying for compensation to Japanese government, like the cases of comfort women during the WWII, no compensation was granted. The Ministry of the Interior thus decided to reject the application of compensation on grounds of the principle of equality and mutual benefits.

UDN reports, the 72-year-old Aoyama Keisho says, today (September 15th) is the anniversary of his mother’s death. His mother waited for his father to come back her whole life, and now that his mother is gone, he hopes the government can give them the truth as soon as possible. He also says that if countries continue to ignore the rights of the people and only pay attention to their own interests, there will be a negative chain reaction. He hopes that Taiwan can show its conscience.

Secretary General of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights Qiu Yi-ling says our government has long been ignoring the importance of transitional justice, not only are there still a lot of archives remaining in secrecy, the historical truth has not been redressed as well. The government even attempts to distort the history through changing the curriculum guidelines. A lot of historical events cannot go through retrials. For the citizens, the government’s transitional justice is only about money, and is even worse for foreigners if the government continues to violate the victims’ rights with not granting compensation.

Supervisor of the Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation Professor Chen Jun-hong says, “According to the experience of the transitional justice process in Germany, they have compensated the victims and their families during the White Terror period, so there are precedents to be followed at an international level."

Transitional justice is not only about compensation. More importantly, it is to help citizens understand the truth of the incident, heal wounds of history and promote the harmony among different groups of people. However, now it seems that the government is trying to shake off the obligation to implement transitional justice as punishment to the deed of other countries. It’s an insult to the dignity and feelings of the people involved in the historical event, and also not the right attitude a government should have.

Translated by Vic
Edited by Olivia Yang

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