US vet­er­ans ac­cept Mit­subishi apol­ogy

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

JA­PAN’S Mit­subishi Ma­te­ri­als made a land­mark apol­ogy on Sun­day to US pris­on­ers of war forced to work in its mines dur­ing World War II, seven decades af­ter the con­flict.

The Ja­panese Gov­ern­ment only of­fi­cially apol­o­gised to for­mer Amer­i­can POWs five years ago, and Mit­subishi’s ini­tia­tive ap­peared to be the first of its kind by a Ja­panese cor­po­ra­tion.

Se­nior Mit­subishi ex­ec­u­tive Hikaru Kimura pre­sented a “most re­morse­ful apol­ogy” to 94- year- old James Mur­phy of Cal­i­for­nia, one of just a few sur­viv­ing US pris­on­ers forced to work in Ja­pan.

Mr Mur­phy ac­cepted “sin­cere, hum­ble” apol­ogy.

“For 70 years since the war ended, the pris­on­ers of war who worked for these Ja­panese com­pa­nies have asked for some­thing very sim­ple – they asked for an apol­ogy,” he said.

“We hope to ex­tend Mit­subishi’s gra­cious com­ing for­ward at this time to all the other mines and fac­to­ries who em­ployed Amer­i­can POWs against their will.”

Mr Kimura and other com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tives met earli-

the er with Mr Mur­phy and fam­i­lies of other for­mer POWs “to ex­press our most re­morse­ful apol­ogy for their be­ing sub­jected to hard labour dur­ing World War II, when they worked in mines op­er­ated by Mit­subishi”, he said.

The sprawl­ing con­glom­er­ate, which now makes ev­ery­thing from ce­ment to elec­tron­ics, forced about 900 POWs to work at four mines in Ja­pan.

Thou­sands of other US pris­on­ers were pushed into slave labour at Ja­panese firms dur­ing the war.

“Work­ing con­di­tions were ex­tremely harsh and the POWs were sub­jected to se­vere hard­ship,” he recog­nised.

Board mem­ber Yukio Okamoto said Mit­subishi’s past fa­cil­i­ta­tion of forced labour had tor­mented him and his col­leagues.

“I en­tered the room with a heavy heart seek­ing for­give­ness but in­stead of griev­ances, I was met with gen­eros­ity and for­give­ness,” he said.

Although it was un­clear what prompted the apol­ogy, it came as na­tion­al­ist Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe pre­pares to make what he says will be a “for­ward- look­ing” state­ment on the 70th an­niver­sary of Ja­pan’s World War II de­feat.

Mr Abe has said he does not think it ap­pro­pri­ate to con­tin­u­ally apol­o­gise for events more than seven decades ago.

A third- gen­er­a­tion politi­cian whose grand­fa­ther was a World War II cab­i­net mem­ber and be­came a post- war prime min­is­ter, Mr Abe has long ag­i­tated for re­vi­sion of the coun­try’s paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion.

US oc­cu­py­ing forces im­posed the con­sti­tu­tion in the af­ter­math of the war.

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