Title Foreign teachers tour sites of Japan
Name InterKrest Inc.
E-Mail admin@interkrest.com
A group of Canadian and a pair of Australian educators invited by an NGO based out of Toronto visited Korea Tuesday as their final stop on the "Peace and Reconciliation Tour for Educators 2009."

Hoping to build further awareness of atrocities committed by imperial Japan during World War II, the volunteer organization Toronto ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia) invited a group of educators and volunteers on a study tour that began on July 2 and will go on until the 18th.

The tour has thus far taken the group to Shanghai, Nanjing, Harbin and Beijing over a two-week period and this is the second year that Seoul has been included on the itinerary.

A major portion of the Seoul program has been sponsored by the Northeast Asia History Foundation for the first time.

The tour has focused on four major topics: The Nanking Massacre, Military Sexual Slavery, Forced Labor and Biochemical Warfare (Unit 731).

Initiated in 2004, the organization hopes to inform Canadian educators of war crimes perpetrated by the Japanese military during its World War II campaign in China and other parts of Asia from 1931-1945.

On Tuesday, the 35-member strong delegation were given a tour of the on-site museum at the residence of former "comfort women" by a volunteer Japanese national and curator before they were guided to meet the eight survivors in the Gwangju city of Gyeonggi Province.

The invited educators arrived at the site under a heavy downpour they had to brave as they trekked through muddy waters in open-toed sandals and loafers. But most didn't seem to mind, captivated as they were by the harrowing stories told by the "halmeoni's" - as they are referred to - and the clinical analysis from the museum's curator in explaining the role comfort stations played during war.

Flora Chong, the vice-chair of the Toronto ALPHA does not think education of Japanese war crimes to Asian youths will fuel the flames of animosity.

One of the invited educators, David Armani, a math and English teacher at a primary school in Mississauga, Ontario believes education is essential to prevent a repeat of the mistakes of the past.

By Korea Herald
2009-07-16 22:32:24