Letter: PoWs' protest

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The Independent Online
Sir: The majority of Far East PoWs who survived brutal treatment at the hands of their Japanese (and Korean) guards have received disability pensions of up to 100 per cent since their return to Britain 53 years ago. Others will have received ex gratia payments amounting to thousands of pounds. This recognises that it is the duty of a country to look after its nationals who suffer as a consequence of war service; it is not that of the former enemy.

In terms of overall financial compensation, therefore, the PoWs continue to come off immeasurably better than those who did the actual fighting against the Japanese and were killed in action. (They have much else to be thankful for, not least their lives.) The parents of my 19-year-old orderly killed in an attack on a Japanese position in Burma received a one-off lump sum payment of pounds 60 for the loss of their brave son. This amount was less than each PoW received from Japan under the terms of the 1951 Peace Treaty.

As to the demonstration planned against the Emperor of Japan (report, 22 May), which must also insult the Queen, members of the Burma Campaign Fellowship Group, including former PoWs, refuse point-blank to have any part of it. Those PoWs and civilian internees who turn their backs on their Sovereign and her guests will forfeit the nation's respect. They must call off their money-driven protest and instead help Britain and Japan to enter a new era as friends and partners.


Chairman, Burma Campaign Fellowship Group

Petersham, Surrey