朝日新聞10月18日(Asahi Shimbun October 18, 2013)



 

The Asahi Hokkaido October 18, 2013

Takeshi Uchiyama

AN Ex-US POW VISITED HAKODATE

“I’LL MAKI IT HOME,” AGAIN COMES BACK MY THOUGHTS THEN

MR. ASARI, A LOCAL HISTORIAN, GUIDED HIM

“I can’t believe I could come back here again, ” exclaimed Mr. Robert Heer (91 years old), a US former POW who visited the POW Camp site in Kameda Minato-machi, Hakodate City on October 17, after 68 years. He listened to the explanation offered by Mr Masatoshi Asari, a local historian, reflecting his memories coming back to him.

In Hakodate at that time, there were two POW camps: the Main Camp in Funami-machi, and #2 Dispatch camp in Kameda Minato-machi. Mr. Heer entered the Hakodate POW Camp #2 Dispatch Camp Kameda on March 16, 1944, which held 126 POWs. The camp was closed in June because of the increase of fierce air bombings, and he was moved to a camp in Akabira City, where he was liberated in August.

According to Mr. Heer, in his camp in Hakodate, the POWs walked to the quay around 1.5 km, leaving the camp at 7:00a.m., were engaged in unloading salt, coal and so on. Around 4:30p.m., they finished work and returned as same as their Japanese counterparts. “Sometimes we took out some fish tins and hid them in our trousers. Compared to Taiwan, the work was not so hard, and the guards didn’t report every trivial act against regulations.”

Their meals were mostly rice and miso-soup with seaweeds in it. ”In our camp we had our individual space of around one tatami-mat. It was warm inside and we could sleep well.” Through Mr. Heer’s witnesses, POW life in a camp/camps in Hakodate was shown as fairly comfortable.

Mr. Masatoshi Asari, Representative of the “Society for Recording Hakodate Bombing”, who guided Mr. Heer said, “I’m strongly impressed with Mr. Heer’s determination of “Making it Home”. I feel our mutual communication as human beings, not as friend and foe, will lead us to renunciation of war.”