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


第2次大戦中に日本の捕虜となった米国人2人が18日、高岡市の収容所跡地にある企業を訪れ、関係者と懇談した。66年ぶりに思い出の地に立った2人は「世代の違う人々と接し、過去の出来事を知ってもらうことの大切さを訴えたい」などと語った。

アリゾナ州在住のハロルド・バーグバウワーさん(91)、カリフォルニア州のジム・コリエさん(88)と、その家族ら。外務省の元戦争捕虜招請事業で16日に来日し、この日午後、捕虜収容所があったと見られる高岡市吉久の日本重化学工業高岡事業所(鳥山隆志所長)を訪ねた。

2人と懇談した鳥山所長は「創業94年目の社で進めていた社史編集で、記録が少ない時期のことなので、収容所などとのかかわりについて話が聞けて参考になった」と話す。

戦後、帰国後も米軍に従事したというバーグバウワーさんは懇談を終え、「収容所では合金製品づくりのきつい作業で精神的障害を負った。憎しみを取り除くのは難しかったが、こちらの人々に接して気持ちが変わった」。米国で教育関係の仕事に就いていたというコリエさんも「この地域で多くの人間が苦しんだことは知ってもらいたいが、人々に快く受け入れられ、友人になれた。こうした事業は重要だ」と話した。

戦争捕虜の問題に取り組むNPO団体代表で、2人の来日に携わった徳留絹枝さんは「十数年前からお二人のことを知り、お世話できないかと準備してきた。こうした取り組みへの理解が広がれば」と話す。