Association of WWII Japanese Veterans, POWs in Leyte and Their Families Turn Over New Cash Donation for Victims of Typhoon Yolanda, Donations Now Total JPY1.113M

03 July 2014, Tokyo Chargè d’ Affaires (CDA) and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Philippine Embassy, Tokyo, Mr. Gilberto Asuque, receives from Mr. Akihide Terasawa and Madame. Takayo Honma of the Shokou-kai Association the envelope containing the cash donation of ¥45,000 for the victims in Leyte of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Mr. Terasawa and Madame Honma are officers of the Shokou-kai or “association of the first ray of hope” composed of Japanese WWII veterans, Japanese prisoners of war (POWs) at the end of the battle in Leyte during World War II, and their families.

The members of Shokou-kai have been raising cash donations for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte. The Shokou-kai had turned over to the Embassy in 25 November and 20 December 2013 two batches of cash donations, which now total ¥1,113,000. The Embassy will be forwarding the donation to the relevant agencies involved in the rehabilitation of the lives and the rebuilding of homes of the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte.

During the presentation of the donation, the Shokou-kai officers gave a magazine that showed the Japan Self Defense Force (SDF) with their equipment helping in the rescue and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte. The SDF was among the first responders in the aftermath of the typhoon. Ms. Marianita Llenos, Embassy staff (photo above, left) holds the magazine page shown in detail in the photo below.

Mr. Terasawa and Madame Honma informed CDA Asuque that the members of their association hold annual visits to the memorials for Japanese POWs in Leyte in order to pay respect to their fathers and other relatives who saw action in Leyte or detained as POWs and later returned to Japan. Many of these Japanese POWs have since passed away and their children carry on their close links with Leyte through the Shokou-kai association. There are about 50,000 Japanese soldiers in Leyte and surrounding islands who surrendered to the Allied Forces at the end of WWII.

The Shokou-kai was initially formed at the Tacloban POW camp after the end of WWII. While the POWs waited for their return to Japan, they looked for any reading materials in Japanese. To meet the request of his fellow POWs, a former Asahi Shimbun war correspondent published the first edition of a wall newspaper titled “Shokou Times” in January 1946.

The Japanese POWs consisted of various professionals such as writers, English translators and artists. They all joined to publish the Shokou Times using pieces of American newspapers they found in the camps. The US military recognized the significance of the wall newspaper and encouraged its publication until its last edition in November 1946.

The Shokou Times was revived in 1975 by the association members. The Shokou-kai have been organizing visits to the Philippines, especially Leyte for pilgrimage and volunteer work such as medical missions and building of schools.

The Shokou-kai aims to build and maintain friendship between Japan and the Philippines while putting behind the memories of the war between the two nations.

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