Japanese company Mitsubishi Materials has apologized for its use of forced labor by Chinese workers during World War II and has reached a settlement with victim groups.
Sky News reports the deal was marked with a signing ceremony in a Beijing hotel, at which the company expressed its “sincere apologies regarding its historical responsibility to the former labourers” and promised to “continue to seek a comprehensive and permanent solution with all of its former labourers and their families.”
The settlement includes payment of 100,000 yuan (a little over $15,000 U.S.) apiece to the over 3,000 victims forced to work at Mitsubishi Mining Corporation’s coal mines during the war. The company, now known as Mitsubishi Materials, will also build memorials at the sites of the mines where slave labor was used.
Mitsubishi Materials also apologized for using American POWs as forced laborers last July in a ceremony at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The only surviving victim able to attend the ceremony, 94-year-old James Murphy, said it was his “duty and responsibility” to accept the apology. More informally, he said the apology was a “big deal.”
“About 40,000 Chinese people were brought to Japan in the 1940s and used to make up for the shortage of workers in the country,” Sky News reports. “Many of them were badly treated and died of starvation or as the result of violence.”
There was some criticism of Mitsubishi’s settlement in China, with accusations that Japan is still too reluctant to show remorse for its wartime actions and even now is taking only the minimal steps needed to relieve international pressure.
One specific result of that pressure has been resistance to Japan’s efforts to have key industrial sites declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recognition of their importance to the country’s development during the Meiji Industrial Revolution.