Mitsubishi apology hopes rise

Updated: 2015-07-25 08:08

By Zhang Yunbi(China Daily)

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Relatives of wartime forced laborers press for deal from company after breakthrough statement to US POWs

Relatives of Chinese victims of forced labor are hoping to receive a formal apology and compensation from Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi Materials after an announcement by the company on Wednesday.

Japan's Kyodo News agency published what it said were details of the company's proposals on Friday.

Yukio Okamoto, a director of Mitsubishi Materials, said the company hopes to apologize to former British, Dutch and Australian World War II prisoners of war, and also reach an amicable solution with Chinese forced laborers.

The official was speaking after a landmark apology was made to US POWs earlier this week.

Okamoto, who was among company officials who delivered the apology to surviving US POWs and family members on Sunday in Los Angeles, said the POWs were brought to Japan to work and subjected to harsh labor conditions.

Japan invaded China before the outbreak of the global conflict, and Chinese who were sent to work in Japan and their descendants are suing for compensation in both Japanese and Chinese courts.

Kyodo News said Mitsubishi Materials will offer each of the 3,765 Chinese victims (based on the company's calculations) or their families a sincere apology and compensation of 2 million yen (100,000 yuan, or $16,000) for its wartime wrongdoing.

Tong Zeng, head of the China Association for Compensation Claim against Japan, presented a draft version of an "apology letter" offered by the company at a news conference in Beijing on Friday, and Tong confirmed the offer of 100,000 yuan for each victim.

China News Service revealed the full text of the draft, prepared in both Japanese and Chinese, and said Mitsubishi will pay into a "fund for the victimized laborers and their family members".

About 40,000 Chinese nationals were kidnapped and forcibly taken to Japan during World War II to work in coal mines and on construction sites, where harsh conditions led to the death of almost 7,000.

Of the 3,765 Chinese laborers claimed to have been used by Mitsubishi Mining, the wartime predecessor of Mitsubishi Materials, 720 died at the time, and only 1,500 survivors or relatives have been found, Kyodo said.

Cui Shuping's late father was taken away to work for Mitsubishi between 1944 and 1945.

"They (the Japanese) did not treat him as a human being, and this had a lifelong impact on him," said Cui, from Beijing, whose father died at age 89 in 2013. "The year of forced labor haunted him for the rest of his life."

Relatives such as Cui were disturbed to learn that Mitsubishi declined to confirm the Kyodo report on Friday.

A publicity official said it was "inconvenient" to comment because the company was still hammering out the details, Xinhua said.

The Seoul-based JoongAng Ilbo newspaper added to the pressure on the Japanese company on Friday, saying it "has not made an apology" to Koreans who suffered in its mines during the war.

Sun Cheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China University of Political Science and Law, said he expected Mitsubishi to deliver a formal reply to the Chinese victims in the near future.

Cui hopes an apology will be forthcoming soon.

"I'm 64, and I hope the whole issue can be resolved as soon as possible to free my children from having to tackle it."

Yang Yixi, Cai Hong and Xinhua contributed to this story.

Mitsubishi apology hopes rise

 Mitsubishi apology hopes rise

Sun Yuanqi, 92, from Shandong province, who was forced to work in Japan during World War II, displays a scar that was caused when he was struck by a gunstock. Guo Xulei / Xinhua

 Mitsubishi apology hopes rise

The Japanese army transports Chinese to Japan to work as laborers, and thousands died as a result of mistreatment. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 07/25/2015 page1)