Survivors of Japan's WWII POW Camps Call on Japan for the Same Treatment as Siberian Internees

Jun 17, 2010, 13:08 ET from American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor

Ask Moral Responsibility of Japan

CARLSBAD, Calif., June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- World War II former prisoners of war of Japan are calling on Japanese government and industry to provide the same commitment to the memory of their suffering and forced labor. The call comes after Japan's parliament approved on June 16th $200M to benefit Japanese veterans who survived the Soviet Union's post-WWII Siberian labor camps and to provide an accurate historical account for future generations.

Three past commanders of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC) applaud Japan's government for taking action now. Dr. Lester Tenney, Mr. Edward Jackfert, and Mr. Ralph Levenberg all survived Japan's notorious prisoner of war camps and endured brutal forced labor, providing profit for some of Japan's largest corporations during WWII. Over 60 well-known Japanese companies, such as Mitsui, Sumitomo, Kawasaki, Mitsubishi, and Nippon Sharyo, used American and Allied POW labor in harsh conditions to sustain their war production.

The inhumane treatment was comparable to, and sometimes worse than, the cruelty of the Japanese military camps. Those who survived found themselves with permanent physical or mental damage. And like the Japanese Internees in Siberia, the American POWs received no wages or compensation for their back-breaking work in unforgiving surroundings.

Dr. Tenney mined coal for Mitsui. Mr. Jackfert worked the docks for Mitsui. Mr. Levenberg repaired locomotives for Nippon Sharyo. Dr. Tenney and Mr. Levenberg also survived the infamous Bataan Death March.

Commenting on Japan's historic decision to honor the Siberian Internees who suffered similar anguish, the three U.S. Army veterans said, "We hope it represents a new Japan that is willing to take moral responsibility for the sufferings of WWII victims."

"Like the Japanese Siberian Internees, we view the establishment of a meaningful program of memory and research on the history of American POWs of Japan critical for the recovery of our dignity and the cementing of U.S.-Japan ties."

"And we want Japanese corporations to support their government in making this happen immediately. Time is not on our side. We are all in our 90s."

The ADBC was an American veteran's organization representing the survivors and families of those who were POWs of the Japanese whose activities are now carried on by the Descendants Group.

SOURCE American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor