Time has reported that Mitsubishi Corp. formally apologized to U.S. prisoners of war on Sunday for their poor treatment at the company’s hands while being forced to slave in underground mines and work camps. The men were held captive by the Imperial Japanese Army after being captured during World War II.
It has been over sixty years since the end of the war that witnessed the deaths of over 50 million people and was marked by fierce warfare on a global scale, the likes of which have been unseen since – thanks to the sacrifices of Americans and Allied troops who risked and gave their lives in Japan, and around the world.
Executive Hikaru Kimura with Mitsubishi addressed a gathering at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum Of Tolerance in Los Angeles yesterday.
“Working conditions were extremely harsh and the POWs were subjected to severe hardship. As the company that succeeded Mitsubishi Mining, we cannot help feeling a deep sense of ethical responsibility for this past tragedy.”
After speaking before those assembled Kimura solemnly bowed before those present, offering Mitsubishi’s apologies.
U.S. veteran and former POW James Murphy was on hand to meet with executives from Mitsubishi. When asked about conditions in Japanese POW camps, Murphy replied, “They were slavery in every way.” The 94-year-old was grateful that executives met with him and acknowledged what he and over 12,000 other American soldiers suffered at the company’s hands. “This is a glorious day. For 70 years, we wanted this,” Murphy was quoted as saying. Murphy also stated.
“Hopefully, the acceptance of this sincere apology will bring some closure and relief to the age-old problems confronting the surviving former prisoners… and to their family members.”
Yesterday’s apology by Mitsubishi comes just weeks before the anniversary of the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of end of the global conflict. The 71st anniversary of D-Day, or the invasion of Normandy, was recently observed on June 6.
The Japanese government has previously issued apologies for its treatment of U.S. and other POWs held during WWII. Mitsubishi is the first major Japanese corporation to offer such an apology. Of the 12,000 POWs held captive, AP has reported that some 10 percent perished while working in a network of approximately 50 forced labor camps.
The Mitsubishi apology comes one-week after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a parliamentary vote that will give the Japanese Army and Navy mandate to fight in overseas conflicts for the first time since WWII. Japan is seen as being sincere in its wishes to put the atrocities of WWII behind it and to make a new future based on global co-operation.
[Photo Courtesy of Keystone / Getty Images]