Message to Children from former POWs of the Japanese

On October 18, three American veterans who had been POWs of the Japanese during the Pacific War visited Takami Elementary school in Konohana Ward of Osaka and sent their message to the children: “War was a wasteful thing. But we are pleased to be friends today.”

Messrs Robert Ehrhart (89) and George Summers, both of whom had been Marines, and former Navy solider Mr. Douglas Northam were invited to Japan through Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Japanese/American POW Friendship Program. They were captured in the Philippines and held in the POW camps, one of which was near this school. They were forced to work at places like factories.

Assembled in the multi-purpose room were about 100 fifth graders. Mr. Summers asked them, “Have you ever asked your grandparents about their hardship during the war?” Mr. Ehrhart told them, “Being a POW was a painful experience, but Osaka is now a beautiful city and I was moved by the smiles on your face. I sincerely hope that there won’t be another war.”

After the exchange, ten-year-old Moeka Minobe said, “It is sad that countries that can be friends fight a war.”

Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 19, 2012