POW Research Network Japan>Reports on Activities>Member Activity Report>Mrs. Nori NAGASAWA awarded

Member Activity Report

Decoration from the Kingdom of the Netherlands,
Mrs. Nori NAGASAWA awarded

In the blaze of the early summer sun, Mrs. Nori NAGASAWA, a member of POW Research Network, Japan, was awarded the Orange-Nassau Decoration at the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo on 28th April 2009. Her steady and constant activity between Holland and Japan was recognized.

Among many talented people in our organization, Mrs. Nagasawa is one of our very few colleagues who actually experienced World War II. She always inspires us in many ways. The visit to the memorial for the deceased Dutch POWs in Mizumaki, Fukuoka Prefecture about ten years ago connected her to Holland. There she met a volunteer, Mr. Hiroshi Kurokawa. Originally this plot was a graveyard for the perished men in the Mizumaki POW Camp. Just after the war, all the ashes were brought back to their homeland. In 1985, to the news that a survived Dutch POW was to return to Mizumaki very soon, Mr. Kurokawa started to clean up this former graveyard. He felt that he did not want to welcome this Dutchman to a weedy place, recalling his own brother who perished somewhere in South Asia and his ashes have never returned. Soon after, ex-POW, Mr. Dolf Winkler, arrived. Since then they became friends and see each other when Mr. Winkler visits Mizumaki almost every year, and Mr. Kurokawa has kept cleaning the area ever since. She was surprised to learn that about 860 Dutch POWs lost their lives during the war in Japan. Mrs. Nagasawa, who had already been acquainted with American ex-POWs, got to know Mr. Winkler before very long. Most of these Dutch POWs were captured in Indonesia and transferred to Japan to work. As her father was there for some time, Indonesia was very special to Mrs. Nagasawa. Some years later, the town of Mizumaki kept up this area beautifully and plaques inscribed with all the names of the deceased Dutch POWs are on the memorial. Exchange programs have begun with the town where Mr. Winkler lives.

Mrs. Nagasawa has also got the chance to meet Dutch groups every year. They are invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One group are the ex-interned people in Indonesia, and the other are those who have a Japanese father who was stationed in Indonesia during the war. Through them, she learned of the shadows over them. With the Colonization which started in the seventeenth century, many Dutch began to live in Indonesia and enjoyed the life there. So the attack by the Japanese army astonished them. Men were imprisoned in POW camps there. Some of them were sent to Thailand and Myanmar to construct the Railway or to Japan to supply a shortage in the labour force. They were to sail on dangerous waters, then to be taken to one of the 130 POW camps situated all over Japan. They were forced to work in mines, dockyards, factories, etc. Dutch women and children, on the other hand, were interned in concentration camps and were obliged to have a hard time. After the surrender of Japan, the War of Independence in Indonesia broke out and these Dutch were to be sent to their unknown homeland. Even to those who were only infants at that time, the horror which they experienced in the camps still haunts them from time to time even now. Many of those children whose biological fathers were Japanese soldiers were rarely told the truth or don窶冲 know even their fathers窶餀 names, but their wish to see them becomes stronger year after year. Their typical Asian face and figure was sometimes unpleasant to their new Dutch fathers. Some of them were subjected to violence from them. It has become an unforgettable reality for Mrs. Nagasawa to have met those Dutch people who have been scarred both physically and mentally.

There are six ranks of Orange-Nassau Decorations and they are given to those who have worked hard and have given good influence to society. Mrs. Nagasawa窶冱 smile and kindness must give comfort to those who meet her. We are very proud of her and would like to work harder having her as our role model.

Reported by Yoshiko Tamura

Photo courtesy of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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