NAGASAKI — A monument to commemorate prisoners of war who died in a World War II prison camp in the southwestern Japan city of Nagasaki was unveiled on Sept. 13, with a former POW from the Netherlands and other POW families in attendance.
The stone monument was built on the site of the No. 2 branch of the Fukuoka prison camp, which at one point housed more than 1,000 POWs from the United States, Britain, the Netherlands and elsewhere. A total of 73 POWs died before the camp was liberated following Japan’s defeat in August 1945, according to organizers.
Henk Kleijn, the 90-year-old former POW who attended the ceremony, said he is sad that all of his friends from the camp have already passed on. He noted also the importance of never waging another war.
Nagasaki citizens and other volunteers raised the funds to erect the monument, which bears the names of the 73 POWs who were imprisoned there, and a description of the prison camp in Japanese, English and Dutch. They hope it will become a place to pray for peace.
A second monument was also established with the funds — it commemorates the U.S. servicemen who died when their B-29 bomber crashed near the prison camp shortly after the end of the war.
An accurate record of the accident was never found in Japan, according to a Tökyö-based civic group studying POWs. However, the group obtained a report on the case last May at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
The record showed that the bomber and its 14 crewmembers were bringing supplies of food to the camp’s POWs. The group also learned that one crewmember, Glen Holm, survived the crash. However, he died in 2011 at the age of 89. Holm’s sons and grandchildren attended the ceremony.
The Nagasaki camp opened in 1942. The POWs detained there were forced to work in nearby shipyards and other sites, where some died due to malnutrition and poor hygienic conditions.