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"Americans Enslaved in Japan During WWII" Topic


19 Posts

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519 hits since 26 Apr 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2018 3:33 p.m. PST

"Les Tenney and Mo Mazer were tortured and starved while working as slaves in Japanese mines during World War II.

The men are just two of some 20,000 American GIs taken prisoner in the Pacific and put to work as slave laborers for Japanese companies. Their plight, though a well-established historical fact, has been largely forgotten.

"This issue is about companies that put us into servitude, took advantage of us, didn't feed us, didn't give us medical care, didn't pay us, and now they're trying to deny all responsibility," says Tenney, now 80 and living in Phoenix…."
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Amicalement
Armand

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2018 7:36 p.m. PST

I am all for our veterans, but this is just about getting free money. The Japan of today and the companies of today had nothing to do with the slavery of the GIs. It was Japanese government policy, not the fault of the companies. If they did this in 1947 it might have made some sense but no longer. I believe in individual responsibility, don't blame my great-grandchildren for something I did to you.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
https://bunkermeister.blogspot.com

Fred Cartwright27 Apr 2018 3:58 a.m. PST

I agree with you Mike. There is too much of people claiming money for things that happened 40+ years ago. And this applies not just to veterans, but to historical abuse cases etc.

P.S. I am thinking of suing the Italians for the suffering my ancestors endured during the Roman invasion of Britain, the Scandinavians for the Viking raids on Wessex, the people of Normandy for 1066 and the Germans for killing my great grandfathers cow with a bomb in 1940. I am going to let the Dutch off for William of Orange as James II was a complete Bleeped text! :-)

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Apr 2018 4:11 a.m. PST

As I recall, there was nothing illegal about using POWs for labor--as long as they were fed, housed, clothed, and given medical care properly. Obviously, that didn't happen in this case.

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2018 5:52 a.m. PST

I say we nuke a couple of Japanese cities from orbit. Wait…what?


----That article has to be at least 10 years old, if the veteran is only 80.

Legion 427 Apr 2018 7:25 a.m. PST

Regardless the Japanese were well known for very poor treatment of Allied prisoners and even non-combatants. War Crimes were pretty much the standard. It may take some of those who were exposed to such heinous events some time to forget. But as noted, most of those have or will die shortly. The important thing is to not forget. And try stop and hope this type of thing does not happen again. We may forgive but not forget …

But as we see, horrors like that happened after WWII and continue today. Of course the Japanese were not involved, so that is a positive if anyone is looking for one.

whitejamest27 Apr 2018 9:22 a.m. PST

As I understand it from the article, the men are not suing individual people for the actions of their grandfathers. They are suing the very corporations they were forced to work for, which have been in continuous existence since that time, and whose fortunes today grew out of their fortunes of that era. The profits they derived from slave labor helped grow their wealth over the intervening time.

Nor are we talking about someone who did not personally suffer suing a government for events his ancestors experienced 1000 years ago. This is in the space of one lifetime. These men went through those events themselves.

Whether or not it was legal in Japanese society at the time for these companies to use slave labor seems entirely irrelevant to me. Any of the German or Japanese military personnel who were convicted of war crimes could have argued the same thing. A Japanese general ordering the execution of prisoners could have said "Well that was in accordance with our law and culture at the time." He may very well have been right, and would still deserve to be convicted. If nobody asserts a higher standard, those standards don't exist.

Prosecutions like this will not in themselves put an end to slave labor. But every link in the chain of precedent makes it a little easier for those who come after. I say go get 'em.

catavar27 Apr 2018 10:42 a.m. PST

I'm sure if I was ill treated while held captive I'd want the institution responsible to pay for their actions (or lack there of). If proof exists that captive soldiers were experimented on, denied medical assistance or just simple executed shouldn't their family members be allowed to seek reparations to punish those responsible? Put yourself in their shoes.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2018 11:10 a.m. PST

Only once did I get to talk with a Japanese who had knowledge about WW2 and was willing to talk about it … when I asked him why they treated the West POWs so badly … he looked at me for a while with that special look… and then he said : "Better than they treated the prisoners of war in Japan … have you seen the facilities they were given to us in the internment camps? … confused, I said: What prison camps for Japanese? … Precisely ! He told me and the conversation went over …! (Glup)

Amicalement
Armand

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Apr 2018 11:16 a.m. PST

Tango, it wasn't our fault they refused to surrender.

Fred Cartwright27 Apr 2018 12:43 p.m. PST

The profits they derived from slave labor helped grow their wealth over the intervening time.

Since most of Japanese industry was smashed by the US bombing and the economy destroyed I think you would have a hard time proving that the profits they made during the war are relevant to any success that have achieved since then.

Legion 427 Apr 2018 12:58 p.m. PST

it wasn't our fault they refused to surrender.
That is very true. I think the saying goes something about, "Reaping the Whirlwind !."

whitejamest27 Apr 2018 6:38 p.m. PST

"Since most of Japanese industry was smashed by the US bombing and the economy destroyed I think you would have a hard time proving that the profits they made during the war are relevant to any success that have achieved since then."

Were those particular companies bankrupt and no longer producing anything at the end of the war? I don't think the general, overall state of the Japanese economy has much bearing on this question. The entire Japanese economy is not the intended target of these men. The question is did those specific companies have assets during the war that they continued to have afterward. Post 1945 they were not starting from absolutely nothing.

Tango, I'm afraid I didn't follow that story. Was he saying that the west treated Japanese prisoners of war in a similarly horrible manner? Or was he referring to the US imprisoning Japanese-American civilians? The latter was a terrible thing, but the behavior of the Japanese military was on another level.

Fred Cartwright27 Apr 2018 6:56 p.m. PST

Were those particular companies bankrupt and no longer producing anything at the end of the war

One of them is Mitsubishi, which as a prime supplier of weapons to the Japanese military was heavily bombed so I doubt it was producing anything by the wars end.

Mark 127 Apr 2018 7:30 p.m. PST

Since most of Japanese industry was smashed by the US bombing and the economy destroyed I think you would have a hard time proving that the profits they made during the war are relevant to any success that have achieved since then.

Mitsubishi, which as a prime supplier of weapons to the Japanese military was heavily bombed so I doubt it was producing anything by the wars end.

Most Japanese industrial conglomerates were laid flat by war's end.

The reason they managed to rise from the ashes was that it was the deliberate policy of the American occupation to promote economic recovery. Basic underlying policy in both Germany and Japan. You guys remember, the Marshall Plan and all that?

The cold hard truth was that if you wanted economic recovery, you had to go to the companies that existed. Much like if you wanted local government to regenerate, you had to put the local politicians and administrators back into office.

But in Japan there was an added booster. MacArthur, as local defacto czar, took and active role in re-building the Japanese conglomerates. He handed Japanese military facilities over to the bombed-flat corporations. And he gave them US Army, US Navy and US Air Force contracts to produce replacement equipment locally. The reason that the Japanese managed to dominate the consumer electronics revolution of the 1970s/80s/90s was that they had been given free facilities and contract to build radios and radars for the US Military.

(It's also why they had guards at their gates in khaki uniforms with US style white helmets who saluted you as you entered their facilities, and why you could always find iced coffee available, btw.)

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Walking Sailor27 Apr 2018 10:14 p.m. PST

As I recall, there was nothing illegal about using POWs for labor-

1. Prisoners of War cannot be used as labor in support of their captor's war effort.
-as long as they were fed, housed, clothed, and given medical care properly.

2. Prisoners of War must receive food, shelter, and medical care equal to the standard provided to the armed forces of their captors.
Obviously, that didn't happen in this case.

Very true!
Better than they treated the prisoners of war in Japan

Japanese POWs were surprised to find that they were well treated, as the US & UK were signatories of the Geneva Convention and held to it's standard.

As regards 1, POWs are to be compensated for their labor. This didn't happen because Japanese industry (despite "Unconditional Surrender") was given a pass on this. The veteran's suits have been unsuccessful because of treaty obligations (i.e. their
government sold them out).

Whether or not it was legal in Japanese society at the time

All of the above is covered, under international law, by various Geneva Conventions to which, unfortunately, all parties were not completely signatories.
If proof exists that captive soldiers were experimented on

Wiki: "Unit 731"

Legion 428 Apr 2018 8:28 a.m. PST

All very true Sailor …

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Apr 2018 11:29 a.m. PST

Whitejamest….imho they never consider the "American-Japanese" as pure Japanese… for them… they were all Americans… I understand that the military KNOW that soldiers were never going to be taken prisioner… that they would died even if they surrender or not… of course… a Little portion of them… mostly decided to dead with their weapon on their hands… as fanatics… but … maybe… a 10%?… could surrender and they have not any chance ever…. of course I understand why… but at the end some few or more than few Allied soldiers return from captivity… none Japanese did…. so evils from both parts?


Amicalement
Armand

Legion 428 Apr 2018 2:05 p.m. PST

Tango I'm a bit confused too, now ?

1) Many US/Allied POWs died in IJF's custody, again, I've heard figure @ 1 in 4.(While in Germany hands @ 1 in 27). Regardless, most who were POWs of IJF (and Germans) returned home.

2) The US did take some IJF POWs especially during the latter stages of the war. Bot no very many. And AFAIK those few were returned … As noted many of IJFs did not surrender and died in combat, or even at their own hands, etc.

E.g. I've be told a little known fact, more IJFs on Guadalcanal died of starvation, disease, etc., .i.e. non-direct combat related deaths. Than the US killed. Not sure of the exact figures but IIRC @ 2 to 1 … I.e. Of 3 that died only 1 was actually by combat, as in Killed by US troops/weapons …


Of course those figures may be off with newer historical research, etc. ? Someone may want to correct me … Please do …

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