KATANGA’S FORGOTTEN CHILDREN
During the 1970s, an increased demand for copper and cobalt attracted Japanese investments in the mineral-rich southeastern region of Katanga Province. Over a 10-year period, more than 1,000 Japanese miners relocated to the region, confined to a strictly male-only camp. Arriving without family or spouses, the men often sought social interaction outside the confounds of their camps. In search of intimacy with the opposite sex, sometimes resulting in cohabitation, the men openly engaged in interracial dating and relationships, a practice mostly embraced by the local society. As a result, a number of Japanese miners fathered children with native Congolese women. However, most of the mixed race infants resulting from these unions died, soon after birth. Multiple testimonies of local people suggest that the infants were poisoned by a Japanese lead physician and nurse working at the local mining hospital. Subsequently, the circumstances would have brought the miners shame as most of them already had families back in their native Japan. The practice forced many native Katangan mothers to hide their children by not reporting to the hospital to give birth.
Today, fifty Afro-Japanese have formed an association of Katanga Infanticide survivors. The organization has hired legal council seeking a formal investigation into the killings. The group submitted official inquiry to both the Congolese and Japanese governments, to no avail. Issues specific to this group include having no documentation of their births, since not having been born in the local hospital spared their lives. The total number of survivors is unknown