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Mitsubishi Materials apologized for POW forced labor

At Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, Mitsubishi Materials became the first Japanese company to officially and publicly apologize for the WWII POW forced labor by its predecessor company, Mitsubishi Mining.

Mr. Hikaru Kimura, Senior Executive Officer, delivered company’s apology and Mr. James Murphy, who was forced to work at Mitsubishi's Osarizawa copper mine, accepted it.

Mr. Yukio Okamoto, Outside Board Member of Mitsubishi Materials, also attended. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, moderated the press conference.

Prof. Jan Thompson, President of American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, and Mr. James Nelson, whose late father was forced to work at Osarizawa copper mine, also attended. 


Statements made during the event:

Mitsubishi Materials' apology and Mr. Murphy’s acceptance statement

Professor Thompson’s statement and Mr. Nelson’s statement


Dr. and Mrs. Tenney invited to Prime Minister Abe's dinner

During Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's state visit to the United States, Dr. and Mrs. Lester Tenney were invited to his dinner in Washington DC.

Prime Minister Abe, with Mrs. Abe, came to Dr. Tenney's table and shook his hand.

Kinue Tokudome's article on that meeting in Mainichi Shimbun. Road from Bataan to Hiroshima/Nagasaki



Dr. Lester Tenney's new book

Kinue Tokudome reviews The Courage to Remember: PTSD - From Trauma to Triumph, written by Past National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Dr. Lester Tenney.

Please go to The Courage to Remember


POW daughter's visit to Japan

Mrs. Kathy Holcomb's article on her recent visit to Japan and the company where her late father, Mr. Harold Vick, had been forced to work, was published in Japan Times.
 Please go to   A father’s POW years are put to rest



Remembering Mr. Donald Versaw
Essay dedicated to the late Mr. Donald Versaw  posted.

Please go to "Farewell to a Marine."



Thoughts of POW Daughters

Ms. Nancy Kragh and Ms. Caroline Burkhart share their thoughts as the daughter of a POW.

Please go to Daughters' essays



Letter to President Obama

On April 12, Japan's 3rd largest newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported on the letter sent from American former POWs, who had been forced to work for Japanese companies during WWII, to President Obama who will soon visit Japan. They 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.

Mr. Edward Jackfert was quoted in the article:

An apology is a crucial underpinning in every process designed to bring closure to human rights abuse.     

Original Japanese article
its English translation.                        



Today is the 72nd anniversary of the Bataan Death March.

Survivor’s testimony from PBS documentary “The War”

Dr. Lester Tenney, a Bataan Death March survivor and the last National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, explained to Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in 2010 about the last remaining issue for American POWs of the Japanese.

U.S. POW's want Japan apology



Mr. Edward Jackfert's article published

Former POW and two- time National Commander of of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Mr. Edward Jackfert, wrote an article for the National Interest regarding the recent development in the state of Virginia. He wrote:

The Japanese government’s repeated intervention in efforts to set history straight is a painful reminder of the indignities I endured at the hands of my Japanese captors.

I think the Virginia governor should stand up to Japanese threats and ask that maybe it’s time for a means test of corporate responsibility for Japanese companies that want state contracts.

Please go to Japan's War on History Comes to America

See also his plan for POW
Educational Project.”


Ambassador Kennedy praised the POW invitation program

In an interview article published in Asahi Shimbun on Jan. 23, US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy said:

It took courage on the part of the participants to come back to Japan and learn how Japan has changed.

Please read Ambassador Kennedy’s remarks on the POWs.


Courage to Speak Out

An essay on the late Iris Chang and Rabbi Abraham Cooper
was posted.

Please go to "Courage to Speak Out."



Nephew remembers his POW uncle

Essay written by Norman Read, Jr. the nephew of the late Mr. Louis Read, was posted.

Please go to "My Uncle, Louis Read."


Report on former POW Robert Heer’s visit to Hakodate

Detailed report on Robert and Karen Heer’s visit to Hakodate, Japan, written by Yuka Ibuki was posted.
Their visit to the former POW campsite was made very meaningful by support from local people.

Please go to Hakodate Report.



Former POW honored by Japan

On December 2, 2013 Dr. Lester Tenney, the last National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, was honored at the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC. 

Mr. Satoru Yatsuka of the Japanese Embassy presented a medal and a commendation letter to Dr. Tenney.  Congressman Darrell Issa, in whose district Dr. Tenney resides, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Japan and Korean Affairs James Zumwalt also attended.  

The citation reads as follows:


Ambassador of Japan extends his deepest regards to
Dr. Lester Tenney
 in recognition of his distinguished service
 in contributing to the deepening of mutual understanding and friendship
between Japan and the United States of America.

Awarded December 2, 2013, in Washington, DC.

Kenichiro Sasae
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan
 to the United States of America

DAS Zumwalt, Mr. Yatsuka, Mrs. Betty Tenney, Dr. Tenney, Congressman Issa

Dr. Tenney’s family

Mr. Clay Perkins and his wife Dorothy both of whom are good friends of the Tenneys’, former POW Mr. John Mims, and ADBC Memorial Society President Prof. Jan Thompson also attended.


Support for an Educational Project sought

Announcement for the "Brooke County Public Library Educational Project" by Mr. Edward Jackfert was posted.

Please go to  “Educational Project.”


Japanese/POW Friendship Program

Four former POWs, three widows and their family members participated in the fourth Japanese/POW Friendship Program.

Please see the picture report on their visit to Japan.



2013 Japanese/POW Friendship Program

The government of Japan will invite four former POWs, three widows, and their family members for an 8-day-trip to Japan as the fourth Japanese/POW Friendship Program.

Following participants will arrive in Japan on October 13.

Phillip W. Coon (94), US Army 31st  Infantry  
He is a full blood member of the Muskogee Creek Nation. He became a POW after the fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942 and was forced to walk the Bataan Death March. He was sent to Japan in 1944 and was held at  Kosaka POW camp, where he was forced to work in a copper mine.  

Robert  B. Heer
(91), US Army Air Corps
He became a POW in Mindanao on May 10, 1942.  He was sent to Japan after being held in POW camps in Formosa (Taiwan) nearly two years. He was held in POW camps in Hokkaido and  liberated at Akabira camp where he was forced to work in a coal mine.

Erwin R. Johnson
(91), US Army Air Corps
He became a POW after the fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942 and was forced to walk the Bataan Death March. He was shipped to Mukden, Manchuria in October of 1942. He was forced to work there until he was liberated by the Soviet troops on August 17, 1945.

Marvin A. Roslansky
(90), US Marine Corps
He became a POW when the island of Guam fell to the Japanese forces on December 9, 1941. He was sent to Zentsuji POW camp in Shikoku, Japan and forced to work as a freight laborer for three years and ten months until his liberation in 1945.

Lora Cummins
, widow of Ferron E. Cummins, US Army Air Corps
Ferron became a POW on April 9, 1942 and survived the Bataan Death March. He was sent to Japan in September of 1944 and held at Mukaishima POW camp. He was forced to work as a stevedore until he was liberated.

Marjean McGrew
, widow of Alfred McGrew, US Army
Alfred became a POW on May 6, 1942 on Corregidor. He was sent to Japan in August 1944 and was held at three camps in Japan. At one of the camps, Nisshin Flour Mill, he cooked for his fellow POWs. He was finally liberated at Suwa POW camp in Nagano.

Esther Jennings
, widow of Clinton Jennings, US Army
Clinton became a POW when Corregidor fell on May 6, 1942. He was sent to Japan in August of 1944.  He was held at Fukuoka 23 Keisen camp and later Fukuoka #9 camp. At both camps he was forced to work in coal mines.



Ambassador Kennedy, Obama’s visit to Hiroshima and the POW issue

An op-ed article by Rabbi Abraham Cooper on the above topics was published by Mainichi Shimbun, Japan’s third largest newspaper, on October 3.   He wrote:

Her willingness to carry on the legacy of the painful chapter of our two countries in order to deepen our friendship gives us hope while encouraging all of us to do the same…

A visit by president Obama represents a unique opportunity for two former foes and long time democratic allies to open a chapter to the future based on mutual trust and truth.  I wish Ambassador Kennedy all the best in paving the way for President Obama’s visit to Japan’s atomic ground zero. Her father would be proud and his fellow Pacific War veterans will appreciate her effort to help younger generations on both sides of the Pacific better understand the road that ran between Pearl Harbor and Nagasaki.  

The entire article can be read  here.

Rabbi Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.


National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Mr. Edward Jackfert, two-time National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, shared his memories and advice during the program, POW Eddie Jackfert tells his story, creates museum, broadcast by West Virginia Public Broadcasting Radio.

In 2002 Mr. Jackfert donated his POW collection to the Brooke County Public Library in his hometown, Wellsburg, WV.  Soon other donations from other POWs have poured in. With a collection of tens of thousands of artifacts, documents, and photographs, and oral histories, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum has become a center for research on the history of American POWs of the Japanese.  

Mr. Jackfert says he only hopes that someone will learn something from all the suffering.

“Show the people that war is nothing but death and destruction. Let’s teach the young ones: this is what you’re going to encounter if you don’t do something about it. Let’s get some schools, some universities, let’s get some clubs running. War will not solve the international problems. We need something else.”

Edward Jackfert addressing on POW/MIA Day.   Scott Adams (Iraq veteran), Francis Dennison, Charlotte Lohr, Jane Kraina (ADBC Museum Coordinator), Mary Kay Wallace (Brooke County Public Library Director), George Wallace (editor of the Brooke Review), Edward  and his wife Henrietta  (More about them here)

Learn more about the ADBC Museum by visiting their Facebook.  


POW documentary screened in Los Angeles

NEVER THE SAME: The Prisoner of War Experience, produced by Jan Thompson, was screened at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles on August 15.

Nearly 300 people came and watched this powerful documentary.  Joining them were producer Jan Thompson and ten former POWs (front row in the picture) as well as Ms. Loretta Swit, who narrated the film, and three actors who read POW diaries and letters (in the back row).

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which runs the Museum of Tolerance, introduced Jan Thompson to the audience. A congratulatory message from Congressman Mike Honda was read by Ms. Swit. 

Chris Franciosa                              Don Murray                              Mike Farrell
       Ed       Lester         Don           Harry       Lorreta         Bill            Jan              Bill        Houston      Harold          Jim        Friese,  Tenney,    Versaw,      Corre,       Swit,       Eldridge,   Thompson,  Sanchez,  Turner,   Bergbower,    Collier
(Not included in the picture was former POW Warren Jorgenson.)

After the screening, Mr. Mike Farrell wrote this essay for the Huffingon Post.

To learn more about the film, please visit Never The Same .


Article on the Atomic bomb

“History of the Atomic Bomb and Its Lesson: Searching for True Dialogue Between Japan and the United States," written by Kinue Tokudome, the Director of this website, was published in the Japanese monthly magazine Ushio on August 5.

Its English translation can be read here.

Memorial service for POWs

On August 3, the annual memorial service for those POWs who died in Japan during WWII was held at the Yokohama Commonwealth War Cemetery. More than 1,700 POWs from British Commonwealth countries were buried in this cemetery. In addition, on the wall of cemetery's memorial hall are names of 48 American POWs who died in Moji after arriving there on a Hellship.


These people are making sure that the history of Allied POWs won't be forgotten


Documentary on experience of American POWs of the Japanese

“Never the Same,” produced by three-time Emmy Award-winning director Ms. Jan Thompson will be shown at Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles on August 15.

For more details, please visit
 the website of the Museum of Tolerance. 

Jan is the president of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society and the daughter of the late Mr. Robert Thompson who was a POW of the Japanese.


Former POW honored while his great-grandson promotes dialogue in Japan

On June 15, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans bestowed its Silver Service Medallion on Dr. Lester Tenney, a survivor of the Bataan Death March and forced labor in Japan. This is what they said about Dr. Tenney, who served as the last National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

The National World War II Museum awards the Silver Service Medallion to Dr. Lester Tenney whose life selflessly reflected the values and spirit of those who served our country during the World War II years. It was through Dr. Tenney’s courage and sacrifice, his initiative and generosity that he was able to inspire others. It was through his efforts that a Japanese /American POW visitation programs began, and an apology was received from the Japanese Government.

with Board of Trustees Chairman Mr. Richard Adkerson,  President & CEO Gordon Mueller, Ph.D.  
and  with his wife, Betty 

Meanwhile, Dr. Tenney’s 15-year-old great-grandson, Parker Levi, attended a gathering of former Siberian internees and Japanese Diet members during his recent trip to Tokyo with his family. When the talk turned to the POW issues, Parker gave a short speech, in Japanese, about his great-grandfather.

I’ve been studying Japanese for two years at school.  I love to talk and read in Japanese.

My great-grandfather was an American soldier. He was captured and held in the POW camps for three years and a half… He forgave the Japanese because a group of Japanese people apologized to him. Now my great-grandfather and I love Japan, the Japanese people, and the Japanese language.

with Mr. Koichi Ikeda, a former Siberian Internee and friend of Dr. Tenney  (their friendship)  
Parker’s speech in his own writing    

Ms. Yuka Ibuki, Tokyo representative of US-Japan Dialogue on POWs and a good friend of Dr. Tenney, arranged for Parker to attend this meeting .

Parker’s speech in its original Japanese and the English translation can be read here.


Allied POW museum opens in Shenyang, China

Former Mukden POW camp run by the Japanese military has just been opened to the public as a historical museum.

The Chinese government spent more than five million yuan (815,500 US dollars) restoring the original look of the camp, as well as installing a museum and a memorial wall inscribed with the names of over 200 Allies who died there due to severe cold and diseases, including malaria and dysentery. More about the museum.

Youtube video on the opening of the POW Museum.

Read also" Mukden POW camp."


British POW son traced his father’s footsteps

Mr. Terry Smyth shared his experience of visiting Mine city where his father, Mr. Edwin Smyth, was held. Please read, “Divided by War, United in Friendship.”



Memorial for Mukaishima POWs

 A group of volunteers built a memorial for those who died at Mukaishima POW camp.

Please read, “Why we built the memorial plates on Mukaishima: An American flag after 68 years,” written by Mr. Koshi Kobayashi to learn more about the memorial.



Dr. Tenney’s op-ed article

On May 13, Japan Times published, “Shift the focus, Mr. Prime Minister,” written by Dr. Lester Tenney.

…don’t let this opportunity for understanding slip away, an apology is so much more important than trying to determine the meaning of “aggressor.”

Please read the entire article.

Visit with Mr. Zamperini

Kinue Tokudome, Founder and Director of US-Japan Dialogue on POWs, visited Mr. Louis Zamperini, whose story was chronicled by the best-selling book, Unbroken, at his home.

He shared his memory of his post-war visit to Japan and of his speaking to many college students there.

Please read the interview article with the author, Laura Hillenbrand.


Meeting with the new Japanese Ambassador

On April 23, Dr. Lester Tenney, the last National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, met with Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae in the office of Congressman Darrel Issa. The meeting was arranged by Mr. Clay Perkins, a long time friend of Dr. Tenney's and supporter of the POW issue. Both Dr. Tenney and Mr. Perkins reside in California's 49th district, represented by Congressman Issa.

Dr. Tenney asked Ambassador Sasae to continue the POW visitation program while Congressman Issa expressed his strong support for the POW issue.

Congressman Issa, Amb. Sasae, Dr. Tenney and Mr. Perkins


Dr. Lester Tenney, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, was featured in a CNN special.   


Please watch 'Dying was easy: It's the living that's hard'


Former POW keeps in touch with Japanese children

Mr. Douglas Northam, who participated in 2012 Japan/POW Friendship Program, keeps in touch with the children at Takami Elementary School in Osaka city he visited during the trip.

Mr. and Mrs. Northam recently sent them a children’s book (pictured here), which was recommended by their daughter.

Here is a reply from the principal of Takami School.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Northam,

Thank you for sending us the book. We read it to our students and they were very happy. Children remember “grandpas who visited us from America” very well. We believe that they will cherish the memory of listening to your words on the “Importance of Peace.”  Thank you very much for that wonderful memory.

Noriko Uekami
Principal,  Takami Elementary School, Osaka

Student of Takami School asking questions to former POWs (Oct, 18, 2012)

Please read Mr. Northam’s reflection on his trip to Japan.

Stars and Stripes article on former POWs' trip to Osaka area.

Ms. Charlie Reed, the author of above article, also wrote this recent article, “Japanese village honors US airmen killed in WWII.”


POW issue in the Congressional Research Service Report

A recent report by the Congressional Research Service entitled, "Japan-US Relations: Issues for Congress," mentioned the POW issue. It said:

In the 112th Congress, three resolutions—S.Res. 333, H.Res. 324, and H.Res. 333—were introduced thanking the government of Japan for its apology and for arranging the visitation program. The resolutions also encouraged the Japanese to do more for the U.S. POWs, including by continuing and expanding the visitation programs as well as its World War II education efforts. They also called for Japanese companies to apologize for their or their predecessor firms’ use of un- or inadequately compensated forced prison laborers during the war. 

Entire section on the POW issue can be read here.


Descendants’ letter to the State Department

Mr. Joseph Vater Jr., president of ADBC Memorial Society, sent a letter to the State Department asking for their support for continuation of Japan’s POW visitation program.
He wrote:

As representative of the surviving POWs of Japan, their families, and descendants, the ADBC Memorial Society asks you to encourage Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit next week to continue and expand his government’s visitation program to Japan for American former POWs.

Please read the entire letter


President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima/Nagasaki and remembering POW history

Kinue Tokudome’s op-ed article on this topic was published in the Mainichi Shimbun, Japan’s third largest daily newspaper, on February 12.

Its English translation can be read at:  Prime Minister Abe to Visit the United States:
Should Invite President Obama to Visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki



Bataan Death March denial article rebutted

American POWs of Japan, website for a research project of Asia Policy Point, a Washington DC-based nonprofit that studies the US policy relationship with Japan and Northeast Asia, posted a report entitled, “Denier of the Bataan Death March.”

It includes English translation of an article published in a popular Japanese monthly Magazine Seiron together with corrections to some of the statements made in the article regarding the history of the Battle of Bataan.

The corrections were prepared in cooperation with Dr. Stanley Falk, former chief historian of the U.S. Air Force and a military historian specializing in World War II in the Pacific. He is the author of the authoritative history, Bataan: The March of Death.

The comprehensive history of Battle of Bataan can be found in "United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific, The Fall of the Philippines," whose author Louis Morton acknowledged Dr. Falk’s contribution to this volume.

The Causes of the Bataan Death March Revisited,” written by Mr. James Nelson, whose father was forced to work at Mitsubishi's Osarizawa copper mine, incorporates information from both US and Japanese sides.

A film depicting the Bataan Death March in 2007 PBS series “The War” can be seen here.

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