Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. has apologized for using American prisoners of war (POWs) as forced labor during World War II.
In an unprecedented move, senior executive Hikaru Kimura expressed remorse at a ceremony in Los Angeles over the use of POWs in mines operated by the company.
It is believed to be the first such apology by a Japanese company, according to the BBC.
James Murphy, 94, one of the few survivors of the labor camp, accepted the apology, calling the event a “a glorious day”.
He said “we wanted this” for 70 years, adding the apology was “very sincere, humble and revealing”.
Relatives of other former prisoners were also present at the ceremony at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Mitsubishi is acting independently of the Japanese government which has already issued a formal apology to American prisoners.
Japanese government officials say that it is an important gesture ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in August.
No cash compensation has been offered by Mitsubishi but the apology was welcomed.
The mines operated at four locations run by Mitsubishi’s predecessor company, Mitsubishi Mining Co.
Only two living survivors could be located to accept the apology, and only Murphy was fit enough to make the trip to Los Angeles, local media reported.
About 500 American POWs were forced to work in the mines from among the thousands of allied, Philippine, Korean and Chinese prisoners who were pushed into slave labor by the Japanese.
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