Friendship between a former POW of the Japanese and a former Siberian internee

Dr. Lester Tenney and Mr. Koichi Ikeda began corresponding after Dr. Tenney's op-ed piece appeared in the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's major newspaper, in November of 2001.  At that time, both of them were trying to seek justice for their wartime forced labor.

Dr. Tenney was the plaintiff of the POW forced labor lawsuit against Mitsui, while Mr. Ikeda was suing the Japanese government for abandoning some 600,000 Japanese troops in Manchuria at the end of WWII who were then taken to Siberia by the Soviet Forces. Like American POWs who were forced to work in Japan, 10% of them perished due to hard labor in the extremely cold weather.

They wrote to each other in 2002:

Sometimes the courage to live is harder than having to die. We have some of the same heart breaking tragedies of the past, the pain is the same, the mental torture is the same and the humiliation is the same. Justice is not just a word; it is a feeling, a desire for those guilty to face up to their responsibility. Too bad the rest of the world can't see that people are just people after all. All have the same needs and feel the same pain. Thanks for making me a part of this great effort of living together. Good luck to you my friend, keep your spirits high and do not surrender yourself again.                                                                                                                                                                                                   Lester Tenney

Your words, “Forgiveness and responsibility go hand in hand. One without the other is meaningless,” (Asahi Shimbun op-ed) left a profound impression on me because that was exactly the same conclusion I reached as someone who had gone through a similar tragedy. I believe that the day will soon come when “Justice” is finally restored. I pray that you will be well when you see that day.                                          
                                                                                       Koichi Ikeda

In 2010 the Japanese government apologized to former Siberian internees and passed a law to compensate them while in the same year it apologized to former American POWs and started an invitation program for them.

The Tenneys and the Ikedas in Kyoto in 2008.  Yuka Ibuki, POW researcher Toru Fukubayashi,
POW descendant Jim Nelson, and Kinue Tokudome joined.