الأحد , يونيو 14 2020

Mitsubishi to make key war apology

Japanese soldiers stand guard over American war prisoners (1942)

About 500 American POWs were forced to work in the mines by the Japanese

The Mitsubishi corporation is to make a landmark apology for using American prisoners of war (POWs) as forced labour during World War Two.

An executive from the Japanese company will make the apology to former POW James Murphy, 94, and the relatives of other one-time prisoners.

The executive will express remorse at a ceremony at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, officials there say.

Campaigners say it is the first formal apology by a Japanese firm to POWs.

“We hope this will spur other companies to join in and do the same.” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the centre.

The apology in Los Angeles on Sunday is being made independently of the Japanese government, officials say.

They say that it is an important gesture ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in August.


Protesters of mostly Korean or Chinese descent took to the streets of Los Angeles in May to protest against Japanese war crimes, during a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe


No cash compensation has been offered by Mitsubishi, but the apology has been welcomed

“Mr Murphy will represent all the American POWs who were put to labour in the then company’s mines in Japan,” a Mitsubishi spokesman told the AFP news agency.

The mines operated at four locations run by Mitsubishi’s predecessor company, Mitsubishi Mining Co.

Only two living survivors could be located to accept the apology, and, only Mr Murphy is fit enough to make the trip to Los Angeles, local media reported.

About 500 American POWs were forced to work in the mines from among the thousands of allied, Philippine, Korean and Chinese prisoners who were pushed into slave labour by the Japanese.

‘Slavery in every way’

Mr Murphy told US media that he spent a year at a copper mine near Hanawa, an experience he described as “a complete horror”.

“It was slavery in every way: no food, no medicine, no clothing, no sanitation,” he said, adding that it was all the more galling to know that Mitsubishi built fighter aircraft used against American forces.

He said that, while he had forgiven his captors, he still wanted for an apology for his ordeal.

Although no cash compensation is being offered by Mitsubishi, the upcoming apology is “a big deal”, he said.

Correspondents say it is not clear why the apology has come so long after the war.

The Japanese government officially apologised to American former POWs five years ago.

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