23 February 2009

Japanese Prime Minister Cannot Leave Slave Labor and Torture Issues Home Say American WWII Vets

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor:

As Americans grapple with the excesses of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso visits Washington, unapologetic for his country's own long-unresolved issues of wartime human rights abuses.

In January, Mr. Aso acknowledged that his family-owned coal mine used Allied Prisoners of War as slave labor during World War II. However, he did not apologize for, nor admit to, the documented abuse of the POWs that violated the 1929 Geneva Convention.

Mr. Aso's admission is the first by any senior Japanese government or industry official that private Japanese companies used POWs during the War to produce war materials. More than 27,000 Americans were captured by Japan, most early in World War II. Held in brutal captivity, these POWs were forced to work for over 50 private war-related Japanese companies including Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, and Hitachi.

Lester Tenney, Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC) says: "the next step is to issue a national apology and offer outreach programs to the American POWs." Tenney adds that Japan has offered both to other Allied POWs. He finds it "incomprehensible and offensive that only American POWs have been excluded."

He is reminded of the end of the Bataan Death March. Starving, exhausted, and sick he stood at attention with other Death March survivors while a Japanese officer told them [the POWs] that they were "lower than dogs" and "they [the Japanese] would treat them that way for the rest of their lives." Then the Commandant said, "We will never be friends with the piggish Americans."

Tenney only asks for fairness for the American POWs. He calls for the inclusion of the POWs and their descendants in a new Japanese initiative to fund visits and research on the POW experience that can promote a spirit of reconciliation with Japan and the Japanese people. He says that Japan can "demonstrate its better values with concrete actions that can mend the damaging personal and political effects that come from dehumanizing POWs."

The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC) is a veteran's organization representing the survivors and families of those who were POWs of the Japanese.

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