We’re sorry, Japanese government tells Canadian POWs





The Japanese government is offering an apology to Canadian prisoners of war, a significant move for a country that historians say has long struggled to come to terms with its wartime past.

On Christmas Day in 1941, about 1,600 Canadians were captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong, after more than two weeks of battle. They were imprisoned for 3½ years, when they were beaten and forced to labour in mines, shipyards and on construction sites. By the time Japan surrendered in 1945, more than 250 of the Canadian prisoners had died of starvation, sickness or abuse, and many survivors remained ill or permanently disabled.

George MacDonell, who wrote a book about his capture in Hong Kong and his experiences as a prisoner of war, said he sees Thursday’s apology as a sign that Japan is willing to come to terms with its past.

“It will be a small comfort for us,” the 89-year-old Toronto resident said. “But it’s a tremendous step forward for the Japanese.… they will be the beneficiaries.”...



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