FUKUOKA – Buddhist sutras were chanted and incense smoldered at a memorial service here for 43 American soldiers executed while held as prisoners of war by the Imperial Japanese Army or who died during horrible surgical experiments performed by army doctors at Kyushu University.
The service was held on June 20 at the Aburayama Kannon Buddhist Temple in the city’s Jonan district.
Relatives of two Imperial Japanese Army officers who participated in the executions attended, as well as John Taylor, senior officer at the US Consulate in Fukuoka.
Photos of the victims were flanked by the national flags of both countries. Messages from relatives of the victims were also read.
Eight of the prisoners of war held at the Imperial Army Western District Army Headquarters in Fukuoka were put to death on June 20, 1945, without having had the opportunity of a military hearing. Further executions took place in August.
A number of American soldiers died in May and June of the same year after undergoing experimental surgery.
A total of 43 of the prisoners of war died.
Katsuya Toji, 67, from Fukuoka, whose father Kentaro was on the execution team, told ceremony attendees that her father purchased four statues of four guardian deities that he exhibited in his home for commemorate the four prisoners of war he helped kill.
Toji’s father was sentenced to death in the Yokohama Class B and Class C war crimes trials by the US military, but was later released after his sentence was reduced.
Another member of the execution group was Osamu Satano. His son, Wataru Satano, also attended the ceremony.
âThis is the first time that I have met representatives of the American side as part of a bereaved family,â said Satano, 62, a resident of Tokyo’s Arakawa neighborhood. “I am happy to attend the service in my father’s place.”
Taylor, speaking in Japanese, said he was happy to attend the meeting as a representative of the United States, adding that it is the responsibility of residents of both countries to ensure that they do not enter. never again at war.