|Reports of visits to Japan of POWs|
Former US POWs visit Japan
at the second invitation of the Japanese Government
7 Former US POWs and their family members visited Japan from 17 to 23 October 2011. It was the second visiting group on the invitation of the Japanese Government. All of them were captured in the Philippines, and sent to Omuta, Takaoka, Kamioka, Kawasaki, Hitachi in Japan and Mukden (today's Shenyang) in Manchuria (northeast China). At the meeting with Japanese citizens, some said---"I had many mixed feelings, great and little, about taking this trip. I didn't know what or how I would feel. But I'm very glad I came". It seemed to be so impressive and fruitful trip for them.
Mr. Robert J. Vogler, Jr. (90)
He lives in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego, California. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1940. He is a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He was shipped to Mukden (today's Shenyang), China in October 1942 on Tottori Maru and in May 1944, he was transferred to Kamioka, Japan. In 1997, he and his wife returned to Kamioka to a warm welcome from mine representatives, town officials, citizens, and school children.
Mr. Oscar L. Leonard (92)
He lives in Paradise, California. He joined the Idaho National Guard in 1939 and the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940. He was captured on Mindanao in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in October 1942 on Tottori Maru. He was held at POW camps in Kawasaki and Hitachi. After the war, he became a pharmacist and still works as relief at local pharmacies today.
Mr. Harold A. Bergbower (91)
He lives in Peoria, Arizona. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1939. He was captured on Mindanao in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in August 1944 on Noto Maru. He was held at Nomachi (Takaoka) POW camp. He stayed in the Air Force and returned to Japan (1954-1957) to train Japan's Air Self-Defense Force. He and his family lived in Hamamatsu and in Itazuke, Fukuoka prefecture.
Mr. Roy Edward Friese (88)
He lives in Calimesa, California. He joined the U.S. Army in 1941. He was captured on Corregidor in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in July 1943 on Clyde Maru. He was held at Omuta POW camp. After WWII, he reenlisted in the U.S. Army and in 1947 transferred to the U.S. Air Force. He retired after 20 years of service.
Mr. James C. Collier (88)
He lives in Salinas, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940 at the age of 16. He was captured on Corregidor in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in August 1944 on Noto Maru. He was held at Nomachi (Takaoka) POW camp. He taught English and Psychology and worked as a guidance counselor in a high school and community college for 31 years.
Mr. Harry Corre (88)
He lives in Los Angeles, California. He joined the U.S. Army in 1941. He was captured on Corregidor in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in July 1943 on Clyde Maru. He was held at Omuta POW Camp. He presently works at the Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital as a Patient Advocate.
Mr. Ralph E. Griffith (88)
He lives in Hannibal, Missouri. He enlisted in the army in 1941 at the age of 17. He was captured on Corregidor in May 1942 and was shipped to Mukden (today's Shenyang), China in October 1942 on Tottori Maru via Korea to Manchuria. After the war, he worked for railways for 37 years until his retirement.
|16 Oct. (Sun)||Arrive at Narita Airport|
|17 Oct. (Mon)||Visit the US Ambassador and Foreign Minister. Share experience at Temple University.|
|18 Oct. (Tue)||Visit the places of memorable significance to participants (Omuta, Takaoka and Tokyo)|
|19 Oct. (Wed)||Arrive at Kyoto in the evening.|
|20 Oct. (Thu)||Visit Ryozen Kannon Temple and Kyoto Museum for World peace, Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto.|
|21 Oct. (Fri)||MTo Tokyo. Meeting with the members of the Diet. Press conference.|
|22 Oct. (Sat)||Visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Yokohama. Meeting with Japanese citizens.|
|23 Oct. (Sun)||Depart Narita Airport.|
17 (Mon): Courtesy visit Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba reiterated Japan's feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for the tremendous damages and sufferings Japan inflicted on the many people involved during the war, including former US POWs who had suffered a tragic experience.
MOFA website >>Link
18 (Tue) -19 (Wed)
Mr.Bergbower and Mr.Collier visited Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture
|They talked their experience at the Japan Metal & Chemical Company(Former Hokkai-Denka), where they had worked as POWs||The mayor of Takaoka City (third from right) welcomed them warmheartedly|
They also enjoyed sightseeing in Takaoka city. They seemed to be very happy when the local people and children spoke to them at a temple and a park.
Mr.Friese visited Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture
Mr.Friese visited the former site of Fukuoka No.17 Branch camp and Sekitan Sangyo Kagaku Kan (Coal Industry and Science Museum) and was warmheartedly welcomed by local people. Mr.Corre, who also had been in the same camp, regrettably couldn't visit there because of his wife's injury.
Mr.Vogler, Mr.Leonard and Mr.Griffith visited Heiwajima, Tokyo
There was Omori POW Camp (Headquarter camp in Tokyo area) around there during the war. Just after the war, Japanese war criminals including Gen. Hideki Tojo were detained in this camp for two months. After that, a stand of motorboat race was built at the former camp site.
|In front of Heiwajima Kannon statue|
20 (Thur) -21 (Fri): Visit Kyoto
Ryozen Kannon Temple
This temple has been keeping the roster and individual cards of all Allied POWs who died during the war. When Mr.Collier found a name of his close friend, he couldn't refrain from tears.
Kyoto Museum for World peace, Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto
They spoke about their experience to the director and staffs of the museum, a professor and students of Ritsumeikan University and citizens in Kyoto. While they looked around the museum, they actively talked with Japanese people.
Visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Yokohama
More than 1700 soldiers, who had died as POWs in Japan, were buried in this cemetery. Although it's for the Commonwealth soldiers, the ashes of 48 American soldiers were kept in the Cremation Memorial. Most of them were victims of the hellships "Oryoku Maru Enoura Maru Burazil Maru" series.
Friendship Meeting with Japanese Citizens in Tokyo >>See the details
Place: Tokyo Azabudai Seminar House of Osaka University of Economics & Law
Organizer: Japanese Society for Friendship with ex-POWs and Families
Cooperated by: POW Research Network Japan (POWRNJ) & US-Japan Dialogue on POWs
About 70 people gathered including ex-POWs and their families. Japanese citizens and students listened to the ex-POW's experience. It was very fruitful meeting.
They presented us a medal. It's written---that "Japanese / American POW, Friendship Program, ---As Historical Occasion---, Japan October 17, 2011" on right side, and "Hope, Dream, Freedom & Friendships, Finally Realized" on the back side.