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Japan's Mitsubishi to apologize for World War II American POW labor

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Mitsubishi will apologize for using U.S. prisoners of war as forced labor in its mines during World War Two. About 500 American POWs were forced to work in four mines operated by Mitsubishi's predecessor firm. Pictured: Henry Hank Wilayto explores the World War II memorial on the Mall in Washington. Hank fought in the Phillipines, but was captured and held as a POW for about 3 1/2 years. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI
Mitsubishi will apologize for using U.S. prisoners of war as forced labor in its mines during World War Two. About 500 American POWs were forced to work in four mines operated by Mitsubishi's predecessor firm. Pictured: Henry "Hank" Wilayto explores the World War II memorial on the Mall in Washington. Hank fought in the Phillipines, but was captured and held as a POW for about 3 1/2 years. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, July 19 (UPI) -- The Mitsubishi corporation will apologize on Sunday for submitting U.S. prisoners of war to forced labor in its mines during World War II.

The apology will be expressed at a ceremony at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles by company executives. The gesture will be delivered to former POW James Murphy, 94, and the relatives of other former prisoners.

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Only two living survivors were located to accept Mitsubishi's apology and Murphy was the only one well enough to travel.

It will be the first apology by a Japanese company to POWs. The Japanese government officially apologized to U.S. POWs in 2010.

Mitsubishi's apology is independent from the government.

About 500 American POWs were forced to work in four mines operated by Mitsubishi's predecessor firm, Mitsubishi Mining Co., along with thousands of other POWs from allied powers Philippines, Korea and China.

"It was slavery in every way: no food, no medicine, no clothing, no sanitation," Murphy said of being a POW, adding that knowledge that Mitsubishi was building fighter aircraft to use against American forces made the experience worse.

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Murphy said he previously forgave his captors, but still wanted an apology. The Mitsubishi apology is "a big deal," he said.

Many prisoners died of tuberculosis, malnutrition, starvation and in accidents at Mitsubishi mines.

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