One year after media reports that Aso Mining used 300 Allied prisoners of war for forced labor in 1945, Foreign Minister Taro Aso is refusing to confirm that POWs dug coal for his family's firm — and even challenging reporters to produce evidence.
According to the Web site of the Consulate General of Japan in New York: "The Government of Japan is not in a position to comment on employment forms and conditions of a private company, Aso Mining, at that time. However, our government has not received any information the company has used forced laborers. It is totally unreasonable to make this kind of judgmental description without presenting any evidence."Well, unfortunately, although the current Japanese government is unable to search itself for any documents proving such a thing happened, the 1946 Japanese government was able to do so easily:
On Jan. 24, 1946, Aso Mining submitted a 16-page report detailing conditions at Yoshikuma to the Japanese government's POW Information Bureau, using company stationery and attaching an English translation. Ordered by Occupation authorities investigating war crimes against POWs, the company report claims the Westerners were fed, clothed and housed better than Aso's Japanese workers and Korean labor conscripts. The Aso report includes the company's Feb. 22, 1945, letter to the Japan War Ministry requesting use of 300 Allied prisoners for one year. Camp 26 opened on May 10.
I suppose the debate will be over the normal meaning of "forced labor" versus the "narrow meaning" like Abe's over the word "coercion." Perhaps the POWs did it voluntarily.
The company report also claims that, soon after Japan's surrender, prisoners thanked Aso officials for their kind treatment by giving them gifts.
A survivor, who like the former sex slaves of the Imperial Japanese Army has a different memory of events. He wrote a letter to Asshole---oops!---Aso asking for an apology and compensation for his unpaid work. Aso ignored it.
Aso finished second to Abe in the contest for Prime Minister. You can bet that he plans to try again after "Beautiful Country" Abe gets the boot. Aso is rather notorious for some very extreme statements. (He was once worried that if Japan allowed a female Emperor, she might marry a "blue-eyed foreigner" which would really be bad. He did not mention how serious the problem would be if she married someone of another race---poor Aso would blow a gasket as would "comb-over" Masahiko Fujiwara, and "Blinky" Ishihara).
Ahh. Japan. The Beautiful Country. The Land of Peace. Folks who learned a unique lesson for WW2, that war is not worth it, and who have become a uniquely peaceful folk, because just as Japan was a victim of world misunderstanding and aggression in WW2, it could be again.