[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When discussing atrocities of the Second World War, the conversation, quite naturally, shifts to Nazi atrocities. Of course, such horrors as the Nazis’ final solution demands tomes of academic discussion so that the world may never forget.[/vc_column_text][banner300 banner=”5517620b381df”][vc_column_text]However, in the Pacific, other atrocities occurred. Though death is the horrendous product of war, there are killings and suffering that goes beyond the duty of soldiers. The Japanese were a fanatical, determined enemy and their fanaticism led them to commit horrendous atrocities.
Americans are most familiar with the cowardly sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. But there are many more war crimes of which the Japanese military is guilty. The Rape of Nanking, the Burma Railroad, the Bataan Death March, the massacre at Cabanatuan, and the overall vicious and immoral treatment offered to Allied POWs by Japanese POW guards all serve as black marks upon the honor of the country.
However, the Japanese government has been very stingy with apologies and admissions of wrongdoings, offering apologies for some atrocities, but notably, not all. Further, the wording of some admissions has left some feeling unsatisfied as the Japanese government has been very elusive about directly and forcefully denouncing their past actions while simply stating that wrongdoing had occurred.
In fact, the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo serves as a sacred war memorial. However, the war memorial honors the memory of a whopping 1,068 war criminals- 14 of whom are “Class A” war criminals who committed unspeakable atrocities. The Shrine is a Mecca even today for Japanese militarists.
However, one Japanese company has opted to stop running from their sordid past and apologize for their role in the mistreatment of Allied POWs.
This weekend, in a closed meeting at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, Mitsubishi Materials Corp will apologize to 94 year-old veteran James Murphy and other POWs and their families for the use of slave labor in their plant during the war.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center will mediate the meeting and said,
“As far as I know, this is a piece of history. It’s the first time a major Japanese company has ever made such a gesture. We hope this will spur other companies to join in and do the same.”
The apology will come from Hikaru Kimura, senior executive officer for Mitsubishi Materials Corp. The Japanese government has denied any involvement in the apology and has claimed it is a matter between Mitsubishi and attendees.
During the war, 12,000 American POWs were shipped to Japan to work in plants to aid the war effort. Mitsubishi claims to have used 900 Americans as slave labor in four locations. Of these, only two could be located to receive the apology and only Murphy has been fit enough to make the pilgrimage to Los Angeles.
Murphy survived the Bataan Death March after being captured in the Phillipines and described the slavery as “a complete horror.”
“It was slavery in every way: no food, no medicine, no clothing, no sanitation,” Murphy said, noting that his ordeal was made more difficult knowing that he was building aircraft that would be used against Americans.
Another 94 year-old American POW and slave laborer, Lester Tenney, says that he will remain skeptical about the apology until he hears it. However, he did admit, “At least it is a step in the right direction after all these years.”
It’s true that Japan has much to apologize for, but it is terrific to see a company stand to offer a long-overdue apology for the role they played in this hellish experience. It is certainly a step towards remedying the past.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]