New Memorial at SSU's Holocaust Grove Honors Victims of Japanese in World War II

Victims of atrocities during World War II in the Pacific that remain only partly understood by the West will be remembered in a new Pacific War Memorial installation at Sonoma State University's Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove.

The memorial for World War II victims in Asia includes an 11-ft granite rock bench, engraved in both English and Chinese script, flanking a pathway inscribed with memorial messages for victims of the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces, 1931-45. The rock is designed as a resting place for visitors to sit and contemplate the meaning of the messages on the pathway bricks.

"The Pacific War (World War II in the Asian-Pacific Theater) was a time of extraordinary atrocities and war crimes committed by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces on mainland Asia and Island Nations of the Pacific," says SSU Emeritus Professor Jean Bee Chan and her husband Peter D. Stanek, organizers of the memorial project. "Sixty-eight years after the end of the war, the Japanese government has neither acknowledged nor apologized for these crimes, nor offered satisfactory and just repayment to the victims."

Chan lost her four-year-old brother during the war and has a special brick in his name at the site. Chan says "my brother got sick without any medical attention and food since the Japanese Imperial Military bombed all medical facilities and the Japanese soldiers came to our rural village and took all our animals and food. My mother is now 96 years old and she is still mourning over the loss of her only son."

Memorial Dedication

A special dedication of the Pacific War Memorial at SSU will be held on September 14 in a public ceremony at 1:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend. SSU President Ruben Arminana will cut the ribbon and read the inscription on the new Memorial Rock Bench. A reception follows in the Commons from
2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Other speakers and performers include:

  • Jean Bee Chan, SSU Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, President of The Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition (based in Northern California)
  • Dr. Peter Stanek, President of Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (an international organiztion of 41 groups all over the world)
  • All 26 brick sponsors who will read the memorial messages publicly
  • Jenny Chen, Playwright
  • Sonoma County Supervisor Shirley Zane
  • Ted Kurihara, of The Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition
  • Redwood Empire Chorus
  • Erhu (two-string instrument) music by Xiaofung Zhang

The September 14 date was chosen to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in Northeastern China in 1945.

The memorial is sponsored by the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia who continue to seek apology and fair compensation for victims, survivors, and their families harmed by the actions of the Japanese government in the Pacific theatre of the war.

The new memorial is part of SSU's existing Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove, that was first dedicated on 2009. The Grove features a sculpture and a pathway paved with bricks that present memorial messages, and a tree planted in memory of Anne Frank. GA affiliates have been active in the development of this Grove.

Over the past year, RNRC, APT, and GA have been working with SSU to include the Asian Holocaust component in a more prominent position.

"Asians have suffered a terrible injustice," says Chan and Stanek, "as Japan continues to deny her responsibility. Now is a time for peace, harmony, and reconciliation. We cannot forget the Asian holocaust of the Pacific War, 1931-1945."

Bricks in the pathways of the Grove are in memory of:

  • Native Taiwanese massacred during Japanese colonial occupation, 1895-1945
  • Asians kidnaped by Japanese Imperial military for slavery and worked to death
  • Civilians and POWs murdered in Japanese military experiments in Japan's Unit 731
  • Victims of Japanese Imperial Military war crimes, hundreds of thousands of women and young girls, forced into sexual slavery
  • 35 million Asians and Pacific Islanders murdered in Japanese army atrocities
  • The 300,000 victims of the Rape of Nanking

To correct these deficiencies, organizations such as the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition (RNRC), Alliance for Preserving the Truth of Sino-Japanese War (APT) and other affiliates of the Global Alliance (GA) for Preserving the History of WW II in Asia conduct educational activities to inform and mobilize public opinion.

Establishing permanent, public memorials that address and illustrate the problem is part of their volunteer work. Recently, memorials to the Pacific War victims have been installed in New Jersey, New York, and cities in California.

On June 18, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution demanding apology from the Japanese government, and directing Mayor Ed Lee to take forceful action to complete the task. The resolution also calls upon California's Congressional delegation to press the issue with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

For more information, contact Jean Wasp, News and Information Coordinator, x4-2057.

ABOVE: SSU Emeritus Professor Jean Bee Chan and her husband Peter D. Stanek, organizers of the Pacific War Memorial project at SSU. (Photo by Jean Wasp)