Two former American POWs: Meeting with company officials changed their feelings

Asahi Shimbun, October 19 2011

On October 18, two Americans who had been POWs of the Japanese during WWII visited a company on whose property a POW camp had been located and had a meeting with company officials. Returning to the campsite for the first time in 66 years, the two expressed their thoughts saying, “We would like to meet with the new generation of Japanese people and talk about the importance of learning about events in the past.”

Mr. Harold Bergbower (91) from Arizona and Mr. Jim Collier (88) from California, who were accompanied by family members, arrived in Japan on October 16 at the Foreign Ministry’s invitation program for former POWs. Today, they visited Japan Metals and Chemicals Takaoka Works, on whose property a POW camp was said to have been located. The Director of the company, Mr. Takashi Toriyama, said after the meeting, “We are currently compiling our corporate history as it has been 94 years since our establishment. It was very helpful to hear about the POW camp during the war as we do not have many records on those times.”

Mr. Bergbower, who had continued his military career after returning home, said, “As I was made to perform extremely hard alloy production works I have carried mental scars. It has been difficult to shake off my hatred, but that has been transformed after meeting the people here.”

Mr. Collier, who had been an educator, said, “I would like the people here to recognize that there were many people who suffered in this camp. I think we became friends after this warm welcome. This kind of project is very important.”

Ms. Kinue Tokudome, the director of an NGO that works on the POW issues, who helped with their visit to Japan, said, “Since I met these two gentlemen many years ago, I have been trying to assist them. I hope more people will understand how important this kind of project is.”


戦時中の元米国人捕虜2人 「懇談で憎しみの気持ち変わった」
朝日新聞 2011年10月19日