Reflection on attending the 2011 DG-ADBC Convention

Shizu Maekawa

It has been only one year since I decided to write my dissertation on former American POWs. I entered the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, in 2003 and learned that postwar peace treaties between states are aimed at settling conflicts rather than resolving them. I also learned that even though it has been more than 50 years since the end of WWII, Japan has to deal with many unresolved problems.

The war problems that people face are diverse, depending on their social position or experience. Some people might even say that there are no issues between the United States and Japan with respect to WWII. However, I thought that the issue of former American POWs certainly existed and that both the United States and Japan were trying to deal with it when I learned about the Japanese/American POW Friendship Program.

Although I know too little to comment on the issue, there was one thing that struck me when I attended 2011 DG-ADBC convention in Pittsburgh: former POWs and their families are trying hard to draw the attention of the world to their stories.

         Bataan Death March survivor Mr.  Malcolm Amos        Descendant Mr. Shawn Lennartson

                 USS Houston survivor Mr. Howard Brooks                   Former POW Mr. Jim Collier

POW Descendants

POWs talk about how their experiences affected them on their return home

Ms. Susan Fertig-Dykes and Ms. Yuka Ibuki
Susan's uncle, Wendell Fertig, was a famous guerrilla leader in Mindanao

Visiting the ADBC Museum

                   Rolling Thunder escorted visitors                                   Former POW Mr. John Oliver

    With Mr.  Ed Jackfert at the ADBC Museum                        ADBC Museum (more information)

I was very surprised when I saw notes by students from the International Christian University in Tokyo on the experiences narrated by former POWs in a class, exhibited at ADBC museum. I have realized that the interest shown by the youth in this issue means a lot to the participants of the Friendship Program. On more than one occasion, they mentioned these students when they spoke of their trip to Japan. They appreciate the attention that their issue receiving, which is surprisingly far more than what I had expected.

Exhibit on the first Japanese/American POW Friendship Program in 2010

This is the only thing I can comment on at this moment, but I believe that this understanding will steer my research. I would like to thank everyone who supported me and helped me reach this invaluable understanding.

Early ADBC convention photo (exhibit at the ADBC Museum)


Former POWs participating in the 2011 Convention

* Several Japanese students participated in ADBC conventions in recent years. It is hoped that more young people from Japan and the US will be interested in learning about the history of American POWs of the Japanese.                                            (Kinue Tokudome)

College Students from Japan and the U.S. Attended the POW Reunion (2006)

Essay Contest winners attended the POW reunion (2007)

Looking Forward to Attending the ADBC Convention  (2008)