Japanese snub POWs seeking compensation

TOKYO (Reuter) Following a rejection by the Japanese Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama, Second World War prisoners of war (POWs) were again snubbed yesterday in their attempt to get an apology for cruelty suffered 50 years ago.

A meeting had been scheduled with Korean guards who had run Japanese prison camps and, as one English POW, Arthur Titherington, 73, put it, "had handed out some of the roughest treatment endured by the allies". But none of the guards turned up for the reconciliation with the POWs who represent 30,000 fellow prisoners from Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US.

Mr Titherington, who gave evidence on Thursday in the first court hearing of the POWs $660m (pounds 400m) compensation claim against the Japanese government, said his group was frustrated by its treatment in Japan. On Tuesday, Mr Murayama refused to meet the POWs who want each prisoner to receive an apology and $22,000 compensation. "We have come here to heal old wounds, but the perpetrators of our suffering are obviously not willing to confess to their crimes. It is a waste of time and very infuriating," Mr Titherington said.

Melvin Rosen, from the US, said the snubs by the guards and Mr Murayama highlighted what he called Japanese tactics of delaying the case.

"We just seem to be taking one step forward, one step back. The court hearing seemed good progress, but being rejected at the last minute again knocks our confidence," he said.

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