Abe protests continue in SF

Updated: 2015-05-01 10:59

By Lia Zhu and Chang Jun in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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Abe protests continue in SF

Dozens of people gather near the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, where visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a speech on Thursday afternoon. The crowd, mostly of Chinese ancestry, demand an offi cial apology from the Abe government for the atrocities the Japanese army infl icted on China and other neighboring countries during World War II.[Lia Zhu / China Daily]

The last day of April was an extremely long day for Allan Ho, president of the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia.

In his 70s, Ho started his day at 7 am by driving to the military airport where visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plane was landing.

Holding signs that read "Shame on Abe" and "Abe apologize" both in Chinese and English, Ho then rushed to Stanford University to join a group of protesters who were waiting there to send their angry message to Abe who was scheduled to give a speech in a campus concert hall.

Ho and 200 comrades composed of engineers, scholars and community leaders of Chinese origin were irritated by Abe's evasive comments earlier this week on the massive abduction and forced prostitution of hundreds of thousands of women from invaded and occupied countries as military sexual slaves for as long as seven years during World War II.

"Abe is the worst Prime Minister of Japan because of his continuous, unprecedented effort to whitewash history and openly promote 'beautifying history'," said Liu Min, a stay-at-home mom who took her 1-year-old son to the Stanford protest.

"Japan needs to learn from Germany and offer its official apology to China and the neighboring countries it invaded in WWII," said Liu.

In contrast to the enthusiastic demonstrators chanting slogans, the students who were queuing for the event about 20 meters away from the protest were much quieter.

The students, mostly of Asian ancestry, were cautious about talking with media.

"I am interested in what he has to say about innovation and Japan's economy," said a Chinese student who declined to give his name.

"If there is a chance, I want to ask him what he feels about the fact that the US and Japan used to be enemies 70 years ago," he said, adding that he had arrived two hours ahead.

Focusing his speech on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship by learning from Silicon Valley, Abe told the audience, "We have to catch up, otherwise we will lose vitality."

As a once dominant high-tech power, Japan has lagged behind the US' Apple and South Korea's Samsung.

Abe said Japan plans to send 200 small- and medium-sized companies to Silicon Valley in the next five years to learn the culture and experience of Silicon Valley. The "reborn" companies are expected to respond to the intense competition in the world, he said.

Other efforts, such as talent exchange and networking, will be made between Japan and Silicon Valley, Abe said, adding that 100 talented people will be sent to Silicon Valley every year to present their proposals to investors and entrepreneurs.

The Japanese prime minister's 30-minute talk didn't mention Japan's WWII aggression and wartime atrocities, such as sexual slavery, inflicted on neighboring countries, something which has been closely watched by Chinese and Korean communities in the US.

"We have to remember our history, we have to remember what has happened," Jeffrey Gee, mayor of Redwood City in the San Francisco Bay Area, told China Daily after the speech. "Then we can learn about the good things, not forget the past and build a path to the future."

Abe was scheduled to meet with Facebook and Google executives, as well as Governor Jerry Brown to promote Japan's high-speed train technology for a possible project in the state.