Japanese company Mitsubishi Materials Corp. is now the first major company to apologize for using American POW soldiers as slave laborers during World War II.
Senior executive officer Hikaru Kimura offered the apology on behalf of its predecessor, Mitsubishi Mining Co., at a special ceremony at a Los Angeles museum, saying: “Today, we apologize remorsefully for the tragic events in our past.”
Mitsubishi apology for POW labor likely too little, too late:
According to The Guardian, about 12,000 American prisoners of war were put into forced labor by the Japanese government and private companies seeking to fill a wartime labor shortage. More than 1,100 died, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an associate dean at the center.
Six prisoner-of-war camps in Japan were linked to the Mitsubishi conglomerate during the war, and they held 2,041 prisoners, more than 1,000 of whom were American, the nonprofit research center Asia Policy Point said.
Mitsubishi apologizes to U.S. POWs from WWII:
While previous Japanese prime ministers have apologized for Japan’s aggression during World War II, private corporations have been less contrite. On Sunday, Kimura was flanked by Yukio Okamoto, a forced laborer in a copper mine, and a special advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with an image of American and Japanese flags.
In the audience, there were other Japanese labor camp survivors, as well as family members.
“This is a glorious day,” said 94-year-old veteran James Murphy, who survived working at Mitsubishi Mining’s Osarizawa Copper Mine and the infamous Bataan Death March in the Philippines. “For 70 years we wanted this.”
Mitsubishi apologizes for WWII forced labor:
According to Reuters, the apology comes near the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, and it also comes amid a lawsuit in which the descendants of hundreds of Chinese men forced to work in wartime Japan are seeking millions of dollars in compensation from a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp. (8058.T) and a joint venture between Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp.
Mr Kimura declined to discuss the lawsuit. He also declined to discuss whether the apology would be echoed by other companies that benefited from the labor of captured soldiers, wrote ABC.