Japanese company Mitsubishi Materials has officially apologized to the American POWs who were captured in World War II and forced to do hard labor in the company's mines.
"Working conditions were extremely harsh and the POWs were subjected to severe hardship,” senior executive Hikaru Kimura told his audience at Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance. “As the company that succeeded Mitsubishi Mining, we cannot help feeling a deep sense of ethical responsibility for this past tragedy.”
94-year-old veteran James Murphy, who was among the 900 Americans essentially enslaved and forced to work under inhumane conditions, was present during Kimura's public apology. He met Mitsubishi officials after the event and appeared to forgive their company for what they did to him and other POWs.
“For 70 years since the war ended, the prisoners of war who worked for these Japanese companies have asked for something very simple; they asked for an apology,” Murphy said.
He did, however, reiterate that living conditions under the Japanese military mirrored modern day slavery.
Mitsubishi's gesture comes as Japan prepares for the 70th anniversary of its surrender at the conclusion of WWII. Since playing its violent part in that deadly conflict, Japan has done plenty to right its wrongs, but the mistakes of its past still haunt them from time to time.