October 17, 2013
EXCHANGE IN HAKODATE
MR. HEER, 91 YEARS
OLD, VISITED HIS POW CAMP SITE
Mr. Robert Heer, a
US former POW held by the Japanese during WWII visited Hakodate City on
October 17. He came through the program the Japanese Government started since
2010, and visited the POW camp site in Kameda Minato-machi and other places.
On October 18, he continues his visits, including two Memorials for Japanese
and Americans of the Hakodate Air Raids.
Mr. Heer became a
POW in the Philippines in May 1942, and after the camps there and in Taiwan,
was moved to Hakodate and was held in Kameda. During the day, he was forced to
work as a stevedore at Hakodate Harbor. Reflecting those days, he said, “We
had miso-soup with seaweeds in it. I once ate horse meet. It was good.”
Asari, a local historian who lives in Nanae-machi, welcomed him at the
airport with a hand-written banner that says, “America and Japan are partners
for ever.” According to Mr. Asari, the camp in Kameda was opened in March and
was closed in June, 1945.
Americans, including four former POWs and families came to Japan through the
program this year, and four of them including Mr. Heer have visited Hakodate.