Hurd to press Japanese over PoW damages

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The Independent Online

Douglas Hurd, who resigned as Foreign Secretary last year, is to press the Japanese government to pay former Allied prisoners compensation for the brutal treatment they suffered during the Second World War.

He will meet government representatives during a forthcoming business trip to Japan and use the contacts and diplomatic knowledge he acquired as Foreign Secretary to argue the ex-prisoners' case.

Seven former prisoners of war and civilian internees are seeking pounds 14,000 compensation each and an apology in an unprecedented legal action in the Japanese courts. They are representing 22,000 ex-prisoners from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Mr Hurd, now free of the diplomatic restraints imposed by office, recently met Arthur Titherington, one of the plaintiffs, who lives in his constituency - Witney in Oxfordshire.

He told Mr Titherington, 74, secretary of the Japanese Labour Camp Survivors Association, that he was sympathetic to the case of the former prisoners and would do what he can to help them get compensation.

Mr Hurd said: "I told him that I am interested in the case and that when I have occasion to visit Japan I would pursue the point. I think that there are ways of making progress on this and I will continue to press this."

Mr Titherington, who spent three and a half years in a Japanese labour camp, said Mr Hurd had visited him at home to discuss the case. "We talked about our claim for reparations or compensation and he said that he was going to Japan and that he would see what he could do to help. I have known all along that he has been sympathetic to the fact that morally we have a cast-iron case."

Last year, Mr Titherington told Tokyo District Court that he was regularly beaten and tortured when he was forced to work as a miner. Of more than 500 Allied prisoners who in 1942 entered the camp where he was held only 100 were still alive at the end of the war.

Under a treaty signed in 1951, former prisoners of the Japanese were given pounds 76 compensation each, equivalent to about pounds 1,000 today.