Sunday, July 13, 2014

Louis Zamperini Unbroken

On July 3rd, Louis Zamperini died. He had faced death many times as a young man. And defied the "odds" many more. As a POW of Japan he was beaten, starved, experimented upon, and dehumanized. It was with God's grace that he survived to be 97. You can sign the guest book HERE.

The video documentary is an excellent snapshot of Zamperini's life as portrayed in the still, after four years, best-seller Unbroken.

It is hoped that the movie will inspire the many, still-existing Japanese corporations that used and abused the POWs they requested from Imperial Japan's Army Ministry to finally acknowledge how they treated POWs and to offer an apology. Zamperini, like all POW slave laborers, was tormented by Japanese corporate employees as much as by Japanese soldiers.

In Japan, after a brutal interrogation at the infamous Naval Interrogation Center in Ofuna in Kamakura, Zamperini was sent to Tokyo Base Camp # 1 Omori. There he was a slave laborer for Nippon Express. In March 1945, Zamperini was sent north to Niigata to Tokyo-04-Branch Camp where he was a slave laborer for ShinEtsu Chemical and Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Corp. Naoetsu (NSSC, formerly Nippon Stainless). Although Bird was a military POW guard, his job was to ensure discipline among the POW laborers for the company and it is possible that he was paid by the company and not the government as many were. 

To date, no Japanese company has formally, officially acknowledged or offered an apology for their use and abuse of Allied POW slave labor. Two current Abe Cabinet members, ASO Taro (Finance) and HAYASHI Yoshimasa (Agriculture) have direct family ties and stock holdings in companies that used POW slave labor. 

At both the Omori and Naeotsu POW slave labor camps, Zamperini was singled out for special torture by Mutsuhiro Watanabe, know as "The Bird." In explicably, he followed Zamperini to Naeotsu. Although, both Japanese guards and POWs acknowledged that Watanabe as a cruel psychopath, no superior ever tried to stop him. As Watanabe observes, he was not given any military orders on how to treat the POWs. Yet, as you see below, Zamperini found it possible to forgive him. Watanabe refused to meet with Zamperini and felt it only natural to beat and kick POWs. In the interview above, Watanabe brushes off his cruelty as simply the judgement of Westerners.

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