北海道新聞1017 (Hokkaido Shimbun, October 17, 2013)

         

 

The Hokkaido October 17, 2013

 EX-US POW, 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.”

Mr. Masatoshi 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.

Thirteen 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.