It was something James Murphy waited 70 years to hear: On Sunday, executives from Mitsubishi Materials Corp. offered a "most remorseful apology" to 900 American World War II POWs who were forced to work in the company's mines and industrial plants and endured "harsh, severe hardships."
Murphy, 94, labored in Mitsubishi copper mines, one of about 12,000 POWs forced to work at more than 50 sites in Japan to support the war effort, The Associated Press reports. About 10 percent of those POWs died, Kinue Tokudome, director of the U.S.-Japan Dialogue on POWs said. Only a few of the POWs who survived are still alive, and some were at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles when the event took place. "This is a glorious day," Murphy said. It was the "first time we've heard those words. They touch my heart."
The executives also privately apologized to Murphy, who accepted and said, "I know that we can trust these words." While the Japanese government issued a formal apology to American POWs in 2009 and 2010, the POWs have been trying for years to have a corporation apologize for forcing them to work under brutal conditions, AP reports.