In October 1995, what was previously a Prisoner Of War (POW) campsite became Joetsu's Peace Memorial Park. The Statues of Peace and Friendship were built in cooperation with people who were praying for peace in Joetsu City, in and around Niigata prefecture, and also from abroad.
In June of the following year, Japan-Australia Society of Joetsu was formed with some one hundred members.
During the World War II, sixty Australian soldiers died at the Naoetsu POW camp, and after that, eight Japanese guards there also became war victims.
We want to hand down to the generations that succeed us the cruelty and excessiveness of war. We intend to accomplish that by including the detail of this war-experience as a part of our local history. If we sit idly by doing nothing, we are not true to ourselves and cannot truly maintain the peace we seek to uphold. That is the primary reason the Japan Australia Society of Joetsu was formed.
Many people visit the Park. Indeed, members of the JASJ often guide foreign visitors there, and they say their guests are frequently moved by the experience.
In 1998, Mr. Louse Zamperini, once an Olympic athlete, an ex-POW at Naoetsu, and a torchbearer for the Nagano Olympics, paid a visit to the Park and said he could now fill the blank of his mind left by the war.
The Society holds "Gathering for Peace" in August and "Peace Lecture" in October. Besides those events, JASJ organizes tours to Australia, coordinates and runs English classes for about 70 local people, and participates in homestay programs, which promote friendship between Japan and Australia.
We invite everyone to become a member of the Society and participate in the programs we offer. However, should you decide not to join the JASJ, it is still possible to attend our programs.
Shoji Yamaga, President
Mikio Sekigawa, Secretariat
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