Speed Reads

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American WWII POWs return to Japan after 70 years

Seven World War II POWs have returned to Japan for the first time in decades at the invitation of the Japanese government, which organized the trip to promote mutual understanding and reconciliation.

"I didn't have good memories, but this program, I think, is very wonderful," Jack Schwartz, 99, told ABC7. Schwartz and the other former POWs arrived on Sunday, and have met with government officials and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.

Bill Sanchez, 99, of Monterey Park, California, was held prisoner at Camp Omari for 42 months. His former campsite is now a boat racing venue with a huge mall next door. He remembers the difficult forced labor, but is glad to see what the area has become. "I take a bit of pride in all this," he told The Washington Post. "What they have done is unbelievable."

The POWs were able to have a sense of humor during the trip, with some joking that the food was better this time than last, but all came with the intent to make peace with their past. "I'd say that all seven of these POWs are at different stages of closure," Bill's son, David Sanchez, said. "This is good for them." --Catherine Garcia