Aeba Interview I

Mr. Aeba Hideo Talks about his Internment Experience in Siberia   Part I 

-To Siberia and the Current Work for the Returnees-


Interview Date: Aug.26, 2010

Place: Office of Japan Association of Forced Internees in Kudan, Tokyo


Interviewee Mr. Hideo Aeba

Born in 1923.  While he was working for an iron manufacturing company, he was drafted in 1943.

He was taken to Siberia for forced labor after WWII from the middle of August in 1945 to July 1949.  After coming back to Japan, he worked for the same manufacturing company until retirement.  While serving as a board of trustee for Japan Association of Forced Internees, he became the director of the association.  His responsibilities include publication of the newsletters, visitation of the tombs in Siberia, memorial services in local districts as well as in Tokyo, exhibitions, holding meetings between Japan and Russia for the purpose of compensation for the forced labor, consultation from the forced internees, holding meetings for sharing oral histories by the internees. 


Planning/English Translation/Interviewer:  Haruko Oshima Sakakibara    

Born in Tokyo.  She has been a lecturer of Japanese in East Asian Language and Culture at University of California, Davis since 1986.  She published the bilingual website, “Japanese in Siberia” in 2015.  Her uncle was interned in Siberia.


Excerpts 1

I am Hideo Aeba.  I was born on June 7th, 1923. I am 87 years old now.

I am a board of director and the business manager of the Japan Association of Forced Internees, which is an incorporated foundation.

Specifically, my office is in charge of consolation for the former detainees in Siberia who came home alive. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications defines the types of work we do.

The rest of this volume includes the general work area of the Japanese Association of Forced Internees.


Interview 1

Sakakibara: Please tell me your name and the date of birth.

Aeba: I am Hideo Aeba.  I was born on June 7th, 1923. I am 87 years old now.

Sakakibara: What is your occupation now?

Aeba: I am a board of director and the business manager of the Association of Former Detainees in Siberia, which is an incorporated foundation.

Sakakibara: Would you describe your current work?

Aeba: The Association of Former Detainees in Siberia is a charitable corporation, so my job is defined in the act of endowment or donation for the association.

Aeba: Specifically, my office is in charge of consolation for the former detainees in Siberia who came home alive. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications defines the types of work we do.

Aeba: First, we publish our bulletin to be distributed among the former detainees all over Japan.

We inform them what types of projects are undergoing and what the government is discussing.  We provide them specific information and enhance communication among them.  We also report the accomplishment of our work.

Aeba: We also take care of the memorial visits at the sites where detained Japanese passed away.  The ones who came back home alive feel comforted when they can visit the cemetery of the  buddies.  In some cases, their remains were already brought back to Japan, so these visits are for the ones whose remains are still in Siberia.

Aeba: Another project was the publication of a book of the collection of detainees experiences, in the name of, “The foundation for Peace.”  They explained the kind of labors they were forced to engage in in Siberia, and how they have been feeling about the experience after they came back to Japan.  It is for the purpose of informing the younger generation what really happened in Siberia. 

Aeba: We also conduct memorial services for the detainees who passed away in Siberia.  There are two different types: one is a nation-wide service that we conduct in Kudan Hall in Tokyo, inviting everyone from Okinawa to Hokkaido.  Also, in each prefecture, memorial services in each districts are also conducted. Each prefecture has a memorial stone.

Aeba: We have also encouraged the former detainees who made back to Japan to draw pictures of their difficult experiences.  We have been holding exhibitions of such drawings in ten different places throughout a year.  At that time, we also exhibit items such as shoes, Mah Jong tiles, and spoons they used in their lives in Siberia.  In addition to these things they could bring home, what they were wearing when they came home are also displayed. 

Aeba: Another important work is to bring up our own requests to Russia. Russian government says there is no personal items left over there any more; however, when we get there for the  memorial service, we do find some items.  Weapons would not be possibly returned, but diaries, address book, and descriptive writings of their memory should be returned to us.

Aeba: The detainees want their compensation to be taken care of.  The Japanese government can not demand it, but I hear that personal request can be requested.  So some people are making requests for the compensation to the Russian government as individuals. 

Aeba: When we hold Japan-Russia symposium, some of the representatives of Russian government and those who have the experiences with the Japanese detainees  make supportive requests for the sake of the former detainees.  We also invite Russian Government officials to come to Japan to have a symposium Japanese government officials.

Aeba: These symposiums have brought some good result, and one of them is the discovery of the personal records of the detainees when they were taken to Siberia.  Russian government mentioned that they have such personal cards for 6,9000 detainees.  We would like to get them all back to Japan.  Since this is a matter regarding foreign policies, we turned in our requests to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. We have been working on matters like this utilizing our symposiums. 

Aeba: For the purpose of historical record, not only books and pictures, but oral history is another method.  Former detainees get together to form a group and talk about their experiences in Siberia for this project.

Aeba: Our office receives a lot of consultation from the former detainees.  They are concerned about their pension, compensation, subsidy, cemeteries in Siberia, investigation of the sites where their comrades passed away etc.  We are trying our best to respond to their needs although there are still many issues regarding the Siberian Detainment.