Mitsubishi becomes first Japanese company to make World War II apology to US soldiers

Joe Hall
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Senior Mitsubishi executive with former American POW James Murphy (Source: Getty)

The Mitsubishi Materials corporation has made a historic apology for using American prisoners of war as forced labourers during the second world war, becoming the first Japanese corporation to do so.

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Hikaru Kimura, senior executive officer of Japan's largest trading company, said "today we apologise remorsefully for the tragic events in our past", during a ceremony in Los Angeles.

James Murphy, one of the few surviving US veterans who worked in Japanese mines, accepted the apology as "very sincere, humble and revealing".

Thousands of prisoners of war were forced into work by Japanese authorities and private companies looking to fill labour shortages during the war.

The Mitsubishi Corporation's predecessor ran four sites holding nearly 900 American soldiers at the time of liberation in 1945.

Japan's government has made repeated official apologies for the atrocities it committed during the war. However, this is the first time a private company has publicly acknowledged and apologised for its role.

Kimura told an audience at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles:

In keeping with the spirit of our company's mission statement, today we apologise remorsefully for the tragic events in our past, and expressed our profound determination to work toward a better future.

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