Six former U.S prisoners of war and survivors of the Bataan Death March met with Japan’s foreign minister on Monday. They were requesting an apology from the government for subjecting them to forced labor and abuse by the Japanese army during World War II.
The war veterans and their eight family members came to Japan on Sunday, in what was the first Japanese government-sponsored trip of American POWs in a bid to reconcile the two countries.
Lester Tenney, a 90-year-old former POW who represented the group, told the minister that Japan should make a formal apology as its ambassador to Washington, did last year.
[Lester Tenney, Former POW]:
"The biggest thing we ask for is recognition that we exist. And one way of doing that is for the country of Japan to apologize for what they did to us during World War Two, which Ambassador Fujisaki has done in one occasion."
In May last year, Japanese ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki directly apologized to the former U.S. POWs who survived the 1942 Bataan Death March in the Philippines and were held captive by Japanese Imperial Army.
Survivors have testified that 75,000 American and Filipinos were forced to march more than 60 miles under tropical heat without being properly fed and suffering from malaria. Only 54,000 are estimated to have survived the march.
The group is scheduled to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos on Monday. They will visit Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture and Kyoto before they return to the U.S. on Sunday.