WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Nov. 10 introduced a resolution honoring former World War II U.S. prisoners of war from the Pacific theater and acknowledging efforts by the Japanese government to heal the wounds of the past.
Approximately 27,000 U.S. POWs were held by imperial Japanese forces during the war, many subject to brutal and inhumane treatment. Some 40 percent of these POWs perished and never returned home.
Feinstein said, “The American POWs — those who survived — returned home and tried to move on with their lives. They completed their education, got married, started families, began careers and participated in all aspects of civic life. But one thing was missing: recognition from the Japanese government about how they were treated as POWs. In the simplest terms, they wanted an apology.
“I am pleased to say that Japan has taken historic actions in this area and has acknowledged its treatment of POWs during the war. There are fewer than 500 surviving POWs still alive today. Let us take a moment, while we still can, to honor them and pay tribute to their service to their country during difficult and trying times.
“We owe these brave heroes a debt that can never be fully repaid. It is critical that we never forget their sacrifice.”
The Feinstein resolution:
Welcomes and commends the government of Japan for extending an official apology to all U.S. former prisoners of war by establishing a 2010 visitation program to Japan for surviving veterans, their families and descendants;
Appreciates the recent efforts by the government of Japan to apologize for the war crimes of Imperial Japan;
Requests that Japan continue its new Japanese-American POW Friendship Program of reconciliation and remembrance;
Requests that Japan respect the wishes and sensibilities of U.S. POWs by supporting and encouraging programs for lasting remembrance and reconciliation that recognize their sacrifices, history and forced labor; and
Applauds the persistence, dedication and patriotism of the members and descendants of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.
“As our nation pays tribute to our veterans, we must never forget the sacrifice of the men and women who suffered grave injustices during World War II,” said Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), sponsor of the companion resolution, H.Res. 333. “With fewer than 500 surviving American POWs who served during World War II alive today, it is time for our colleagues in both chambers of Congress to join Sen. Feinstein and me in making this small, but significant, gesture to show these brave men and women that Congress has not forgotten about their experience and sacrifice.
“It is past due for those private Japanese companies that profited from American POW slave labor to follow in their government’s example by apologizing and supporting programs for lasting peace and remembrance.”