Friday, February 25, 2005

Japanese Uncover Fate of PoWs Who Died in Camps

Sixty years after the end of the Second World War, Japanese researchers have compiled a comprehensive database detailing the fate of the 3,526 Allied prisoners of war who died in Japan between 1941 and 1945.

Until now, the information was often incomplete or inaccurate, and efforts to uncover more have been hampered by the destruction of records by the Japanese at the end of the war.

But painstaking research by Japanese volunteers has yielded new details on where the men were held and forced to work and how they died. The database is now on the internet in English.

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More than 30,000 Allied PoWs were made to work in appalling conditions in factories and mines at 130 sites across Japan. About one in 10 died from illness, their bodies weakened by malnutrition and beatings from guards. Some were survivors of the Burma railway. Many died en route to Japan on "hell ships", a journey that could take up to two months under constant threat of attack from Allied submarines and planes.

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The researchers say their work is also for the Japanese. "Japanese don't know about this tragic history but they should know," said Mrs Sasamoto. "There are people who hate Japan and the Japanese have a responsibility to know why that is.

Read the rest.