Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivor to conduct 20th annual protest at Canada’s Japanese Embassy on August 13, 2012
While serving in the Dutch Navy, John Franken was taken prisoner by the Japanese at the onset of the Second World War. Mr. Franken worked as a slave labourer for three years and three months in a shipyard and three months in a coal mine. He was working as a slave labourer in a coal mine when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki , Japan on 9 August 1945. He emerged from the mine to a totally devastated landscape where the smell of burning flesh was in the air.
Mr. Franken visits Canadian schools every November to raise awareness of the horrors of war, what it meant to be a POW in Japan and how he is one of the last surviving witnesses to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. For the last 20 years Mr. Franken and other survivors have marched annually in front of the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa to ensure that their collective memories of the war endure. For these invaluable services John Franken was honoured by the Queen of The Netherlands with the Medal of Orange – Nassau. In addition, the CBC aired a Gemini nominated documentary about his post – war experiences entitled “Tea at the Embassy“. As the numbers of the “Greatest Generation” dwindle, these first-hand accounts of war experiences increase in importance and deserve media attention.
At age 90, John Franken continues his fight to compel the National Diet of Japan to formally apologize for its war crimes against Prisoners of War and the civilians in the lands they occupied.