Japanese companies should apologize to former POWs

Mainichi Shimbun, April 12, 2014

Mr. Edward Jackfert (92-year-old resident of Florida) and a few other former American POWs who were forced to work for Japanese companies during WWII sent a letter to President Obama who will soon visit Japan, appealing to him to ask Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to urge those companies that enslaved them to apologize.  

In May of 1942, Mr. Jackfert, a member of the US Army Air Corps, became a POW in the Philippines and was sent to the city of Kawasaki in Japan.  He was forced to work for several private companies in abusive conditions until the end of the war.  

In the letter to President Obama, he wrote:

Many of our fellow POWs died and almost all of us still carry physical and mental scars to this day. We survivors want our honor returned and one way to do that is through an apology from these companies.

On this issue, the Japanese government did apologize to former American POWs in 2009 for the first time, and started an invitation program to Japan. However, the Japanese companies have never responded to former POWs’ request for an apology.

Mr. Jackfert expressed his hope that President Obama and Prime Minister Abe would show their leadership in promoting reconciliation, saying, “An apology is a crucial underpinning in every process designed to bring closure to human rights abuse. ”                                
                                                                                              (By Hiromichi Yoshitomi)

* The original article was in Japanese.


Mr. Jackfert at Mitsui Warehouse in 1943 (far left in the last row)