NEWS

Veteran Ends 20-Year Protest Against Japan

08/13/2012 09:22 EDT | Updated 10/13/2012 05:12 EDT
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A veteran of the Second World War now living in Ottawa ended his decades-long protest against the Japanese government on Monday.

John Franken, 90, was taken prisoner by the Japanese during the war. He worked as a slave labourer for three years and three months in a shipyard, and for three months in a coal mine.

In December 2011, Japan's parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs, Toshiyuki Kato, apologized for the mistreatment of those soldiers who survived the Battle of Hong Kong and spent years toiling in labour camps.

The declaration was delivered to an audience that included Canada's Veterans Affairs Minister, Steven Blaney, and Canada accepted the apology.

Franken calling for apology from legislature

But Franken said he doesn't want an apology from any government minister, he wants an apology from the legislature itself: the National Diet of Japan.

For 20 years, Franken has showed up at the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa three times per year, delivering letters asking for such an apology.

But he made his last visit Monday due to declining health.

Outside the embassy, Franken spoke to reporters.

"He said he will pass it on," Franken said. "He said, 'We said sorry.' I said, 'Yes, you said sorry, but not the government, not the Diet. That's what I'm after.'"

"They don't want to say sorry," Franken said. "Not in my lifetime."

In a statement emailed to CBC after Monday's meeting with Franken, an embassy staffer said "we reiterated the official apology for the mistreatment of POWs which was made by then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995."

Franken's daughter, Roslyn Franken, said she's proud of her father.

"It's almost like succession planning after my dad goes, because he's very much a leader," she said. "And he will never give up. Even if he's not physically able to be here, in his heart he will never give up on this."