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Exhibit Galleries

Both exhibit contents and design will be engaging, representational, and educational.

 

Content

The exhibition is comprised of three major components: Introduction and Overview, the scourges of war, and post-war reflections. All research-based contents will be curated using the principles of authenticity and humanity values while achieving its educational goals.

 

Exhibit Design

Through digital media, photos, documents, and artefacts, visitors will not only gain an overview of WWII in Asia but also a better understanding of humanity through different human stories and reflections. In both design and curation, the Asia-Pacific Peace Museum will explore creative ways of displaying the scourges of war in an attempt to inspire and engage visitors to reflect and take actions in pursuit of peace and reconciliation.

Introduction & Overview  (1/F)

01

01 East Asia in Pre- WWII Era and the Rise of Japanese Militarism & Colonialism.jpg

East Asia in Pre-WWII Era and the Rise of Japanese Militarism & Colonialism

What led to the outbreak of World War II in Asia (1931-1945)? This gallery sets the stage by exploring colonialism, militarism, and imperialism in East and Southeast Asia in the lead-up to the war. These ideologies manifested not only in battles and invasions but also in aspects of popular culture such as songs, games, and propaganda.

02

Overview of WWII in Asia 1931-1945

This gallery summarizes major battles waged by the Japanese military in East and Southeast Asia from 1931-1945. The progress of the war unfolds vividly through chronological maps and wrenching images that put a human face to battles and atrocities.

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Scourges of War – Violence Against Humanity (1/F)
This section identifies the brutal and violent acts against humanity during the years of Japanese aggression in the Asia Pacific region.

03

Massacres

Beyond the battlefield, major massacres of civilians testify to the brutality and inhumanity of war. This gallery tells the stories of victims and survivors of massacres committed by the Japanese military in Nanking (1937), Singapore (1942), and Manila (1945) who embodied courage and humanity in the face of unimaginable cruelty. By telling and remembering their stories, we honour their memory and reaffirm our resolve to build a world without war.

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04

Japanese Military Sexual Slavery System

From 1932-1945, the Japanese military and other stakeholders set up a sexual slavery system that embodied dehumanization, exploitation, and oppression against young women and girls throughout territories they invaded and occupied. Survivors of this horrific institution of systemic sexual assault began speaking out and organizing for justice in the 1990s. They speak to us here of their suffering, trauma, resilience, and determination through personal testimonies, an interactive biography, and deeply personal works of art.

05

Biological and Chemical Warfare

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Japanese military covertly carried out atrocious, unethical scientific experiments on live human beings to develop biological and chemical weapons. Unit 731, headquarters of such operations, developed and deployed these weapons against hundreds of thousands of civilians in China, who died or suffered lifelong illness and disability as a result. Yet this human atrocity is little known, especially in the West. This gallery unearths the truth of Unit 731, reveals its cover-up, and connects it to contemporary instances of biological and chemical warfare. What lessons, if any, have we learned from this atrocity?

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06

06 Prisoners of War and Civilian Forced Labourers.jpg

Prisoners of War and Civilian Forced Labourers

Beginning with its invasion of Southeast Asia in 1941, the Japanese military took captive hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers and local resistance forces. They were enslaved, together with millions of civilians drafted in occupied territories, as forced labourers to serve the Japanese war effort. Twenty seven percent of Allied prisoners of war died in camps, marches, and work sites such as the Thai-Burma Railway characterized by malnutrition, disease, and abuse. Civilian forced labourers likewise suffered unimaginable mortality rates. This gallery tells of the horrors they endured, the lingering trauma they experience, and their ongoing struggles for justice from the Japanese government and complicit corporations.

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07

Canada at War

Canada had its own roles to play in World War II in Asia, both at home and abroad. Canadian soldiers joined the Allied war effort as defenders of Hong Kong, while Chinese Canadian members of Force 136 fought not only against Japan but also against prejudice at home. Japanese Canadians on the west coast, meanwhile, were regarded as ‘enemy aliens’ and forcibly removed from their homes, property, and communities. By showcasing these interlocking stories, this gallery highlights how minority groups suffering discrimination have long fought for inclusion, recognition, and justice in Canada.

08

Japan Turned Defensive

While the Japanese military was perpetrating atrocities throughout the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese at home suffered tremendously. This gallery traces the development of Japan’s war with the Allies from the Japanese military’s invasion of Southeast Asia in 1941, the pivotal Battle of Midway, the role of kamikaze, the devastating Battle of Okinawa, and the horror of atomic warfare.

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Post War (2/F)
This section explores the post-war responses in Asia and the West from the end of the war to current days.   The impact of justice served, historical denial and memory are all related to the pursuit of peace and reconciliation between the perpetrating and victimized states. Global political, social and economic development after the war help contextualise the post-war response.

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Justice

Japan’s final surrender in 1945 left over 23 million people dead, hundreds of millions of casualties, and much of East and Southeast Asia in ruins. How did the Allied governments deal with responsibility for the horrors and hold the perpetrators accountable? By exploring postwar trials and international agreements, this gallery shows how geopolitical considerations shaped Allied approaches to postwar justice with ramifications for decades to come. Visitors are encouraged to think about the question “Has Justice Been Served?” posed at the end of the gallery.

10

Memory

Wars do not end when fighting stops. Questions over historical memory—how we remember war, how we make sense of it, how we understand our individual and communal role in it—have continued to be fraught battlegrounds in the decades following the end of World War II in Asia. This gallery contrasts the denials of revisionist Japanese leaders with the advocacy of peace activists around the globe. Their labour reminds us that truth is hard-fought and indispensable to justice, reconciliation, and peace.

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Reflection

Visitors will be invited to have a quiet time to contemplate and reflect on what they see and learn from the permanent exhibits.

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