Friday, June 19, 2009

Apologize---if you are sorry

In May, the Japanese ambassador to the US officially apologized to former POWs of the Bataan Death March.*

Now a former Australian POW and the son of another POW are in Japan seeking an apology from PM Aso. The POWs, James Coombs and the late Patrick McAnulty (represented by his son), were slave laborers at the Aso Mining company during the war. Note that this is an apology from Aso as heir of the mining company, not an official apology by the government.

Lest anyone think that this apology stuff is going to be a habit, a "lawyer" who seemingly admits that he doesn't know what he is talking about said the following in regards to the mens request:

Katsuhiko Takaike, a lawyer who has been studying the issue of postwar compensation, admitted he was not familiar with the Aso Mining case but said Aso probably would be better off not apologizing.

"I can understand that (Coombs and McAnulty's father) suffered terribly and they want an apology," Takaike said. "But Japanese POWs also suffered illegal treatment too. We would have to start talking about that, too, or else it would be one-sided."

This is an argument of a lawyer? It sounds like one from a 5-year old. Naturally, the 5-year old mind of this fellow jumps into the everybody-did-it excuse too. A lawyer? Seriously? I knew that the government tried to increase the number of lawyers, but I didn't know that they now sell licenses at 7-11.

Waseda University visiting professor, Aiko Utsumi, author of The POW Policy of the Japanese Military, has a different opinion:

"I think should Aso meet with them — it is natural for him to apologize for the past....Aso is heir to the mine..."

Aso (and the government) denied that his company used POWs for slave labor until recently. He has not replied to letters sent by the men earlier this year.

All quotes from Pair seek POW apology from Aso at The Japan Times.

And speaking of the Death March this is interesting.

*There has been some debate on whether or not it was an official apology on behalf of the Japanese government, or a personal apology from the ambassador. However, it seems to be generally accepted as official. A video link to the speech/apology is here.

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