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How do you feel about the call by some World War II POWs for Prime Minister Taro Aso to apologize and offer reparation over their wartime forced labor at a coalmine owned by his father?

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War is over. Aso was not part of the war. There is absolutely no reason for him to apologize. as much as I respect the veterans, they should realize how many years have passed and move on. This apology would give them nothing. European nations are not apologizing to each other so there is no reason why any other should.

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Even Aso, who I would blame for a lot, can't help his family background.

It might help to treat the issue with some sensitivity though.

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If every Individual who suffered during a war demanded a personal apology there would be no end to it. While these men suffered, they were POWs in the military service of their country. I don't see how their suffering as great as it may be exceeds the suffering of the literally millions of civilians in many countries. Individuals come out of war experiences in different ways and while most learn to move on, I really don't think an apology from a person who was 8 years old at the time is going to give them the peace they're looking for.

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The two men who recently traveled to Japan openly stated that it was an apology they really wanted and money was not the issue. They should have known the Japanese have a tendency to deny the past and refuse to face reality. What would it have cost Aso to apologize? An hour of his busy day perhaps?

Japan has no leaders with moral courage and sense of dignity ... it only has politicians (and we all know whores get more respect than politicians!)

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Absolutely not! How in the hell are you expected to apologize for what your father and or grandfather did? Yes what those men went through was awful and i wish it upon no one but come on! Tool or not, Aso doesn't need to apologize for this. But damn! He should start apologizing for other things...

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What would it have cost? Well, if we really had to quantify "cost," how about the marke diminishing of the the value and worth inherent in a genuine and heartfelt apology? Issuing an apology for something he has no responsibility for in the first place makes the apology hollow and meaningless. Something that these ex-POWs simply have to know. So why ask for a hollow apology? Is it out of some sense of retribution? If they can't make the fathers and grandfathers who were truly responsible experience the humiliation of admitting a terrible wrong, then they'll settle for the child? How petty. How empty.

I'm not a huge fan of the guy, but Aso Taro had nothing to do with wartime slavery or mistreatment of POWs. Nothing whatsoever, other than to have been born to a family that did. Not his fault. Not his choice. Some people want him to wallow in guilt over things he had no control over at the age of five, for crying out loud.

Let it go, for Pete's sake.

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It would be good to hear apologies given wilfully from the heart and not demanded. Would be...

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totally ridiculous. Japan as a nation apologized for their part in the war. No further apologies are neccesary, especially from an individual who was not involved.

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Unfortunately, Aso still benefits to this day from the labour of those slaves. He was born into not just any family, but a rich and powerful one, and that has helped him to be in the position he is in now. How about his family coffers cough up the money gained from the mines during that time at a percentage of slave workers to paid workers? The fact that he denied it until proof emerged also warrants an apology, for the lies at the very least. I agree apologies, heartfelt or fake don't change or benefit anything much, but it kind of goes hand in hand with acknowledging the fact that it occurred.

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Year is 2009 last time I looked, Learn from the past but leave the past in the past, stop bring the past in to the present and future, it helps no one, and just causes trouble. May Peace Prevail and all humans live in Peace.

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Aso made his feelings clear with his recent Yasukuni episode. However, you can't blame him for crimes carried out by his father, that is ridiculous. All his fathers assets should be confiscated and frozen, even if Aso now has them.

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Ugh.. living in the past.. let it go. Or quite simply, do a japan wide apology and get it over with, no thinking about whether tod o it or not.. you either do it or dont, and look sincere! ;P

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All his fathers assets should be confiscated and frozen, even if Aso now has them.

No, they shouldn't. The Treaty of San Francisco addressed reparation issues in perpetuity. If POWs want to take up the issue, they should take it up with their own governments for concluding the treaty in an unsatisfactory manner. Even then, 50 years after the conclusion of that treaty, they shouldn’t expect anything earthshakingly different.

Let it go already.

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Aso Mining Company is the culprit and as a corporation lives in perpetuity.

Mr Coombes, the 88 year old Australia POW is probably the last survivor of the 300 POW slaves at Aso Mining Company during WW11. When he dies, Aso Mining Company won't have to worry anymore of the corporate embarrassment the Company indulged in in 1944/5. But he and some mates in Melbourne bought it to the public's attention last Anzac day.

I love they way your armchair experts who have never been within cooee of the misery that brave old diggers like Mr Coombes suffered under a brutal captivity regime do a Judge Judy and "tell him to get over it".

The 1954 Treaty of San Francisco was executed when Japan was still in poverty from the Pacific war it started. Within decades, Japan would become the second most powerful economy within decades from the help of the forgiving allied powers. Presumably Aso Mining Company did well out out of the War and the Marshall Plan after.

We can accept that no one employed at Aso Mining Company in the thirties had any say in starting the Pacific war, or even currently working in it still, participated.

The point is the Aso Mining Company treated these POW's slaves with brutality and it is the Company, Aso Mining Company, that needs to consider an apology to, Australian, Mr Coombes. When you lift the corporate veil on Aso Mining Company, you find the Aso family. The whole world will know about this soon because Aso and his brother were too stupid to treat these men in 2009 with some respect and dignity when the opportunity was presented.

As I have said in other blogs, if it okay for the international Jewish diaspora to not get over it, and raise the plight of Jews who suffered under the Nazi's, 365 days a year for the last 64 years and continue to make daily demands for compensation, and chase down those who brutalized Jews, build museums to it in all major Christian cities and present real life sufferers, why not let heroic Mr Coombes, face the Company that brutalized him. As we age, the wrongs that were done to us don't evaporate, your long memory becomes stronger than your recent.

Just show the dear old soldier some respect you wimps.

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No, sir, the Treaty of San Francisco was drafted and concluded under the cloud of the same sort of retributive vengeance-seeking you champion that ultimately produced the punitive Treaty of Versailles, a mistake that planted the seeds of World War II in the first place. There were far smarter people at the helm of the drafting of the Treaty of San Francisco than you or I, respectfully.

Unless, of course, you’re suggesting that hence forth, all treaties of closure of war be concluded with a footnote along the lines of, " . . . unless those craven bastards unexpectedly manage to develop some means by which we can exact greater retribution at a later time."

I love the way armchair experts who themselves have never been faced with the immense responsibility of concluding one of the planet's most devastating wars are able to lightly cast about suggestions of compensation some 60 years after the fact, as if the suffering of one group were somehow more worthy of special dispensation than others.

Let’s put things into perspective. Forced to work in a coal mine as opposed to being the recipient of some of the most horrific scientific experiments on living, human subjects imaginable: Who got the worst of it? Being forced to work in a coal mine or being left to wander in the burned-out irradiated remains of Hiroshima, searching for love ones that will never be found? Who got the worst of it? War isn’t a pretty thing for anyone involved, and constantly picking at the scab of one particular facet of the horror doesn’t help anyone. The war is over and has been for 64 years.

And speaking to your example regarding the Holocaust, you do Jews a dishonor and disservice by trying to clumsily lump their efforts to ensure the world never forgets crimes visited upon them into the same category as ensuring the enemy never stops paying. There's a vast difference between the two.

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I feel that this call is uncalled for - the WW II is over many terrible things happened. If all the other nations who were the cause of great sufferings during the wars to people are prepared to apologize Mr Taro Aso may consider. However, the first nation to set the trend should be the USA who have during the WWII and and to-date have caused great sufferings to the people of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Japan followed by the people of Vietnam, followed by the people of Iraq and now Afghanistan. The US President, the Vice President the Defense Secretary accompanied by all the Generals should go on a special apology safari starting from Japan and going on to the other countries. In Japan they should apologize the way the Japanese do it.

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LFRAgain "As if the suffering of one were somehow more worthy of special dispensation than others". I thought that was the purpose of my comment and I used the Jewish example of continuous claims for compensation and still chasing down 95 year old alleged war criminals for war crimes 64 years after the war was over. The crimes visited on them were evil but no more evil than on the other 94 million who died and perhaps another 200 million who suffered but survived. This is not a situation of arguing about the merits of who suffered the most as you seem to be making it, nor a call for endless claims for compensation as the Jewish diaspora do. Good on them! It is about an 88 year old Australian POW who was allegedly brutally treated wile working as slave labor at a Japanese mining company in 1945 seeking to bring his bitter memories to the Company's current leadership. There is no class action by anyone as you well know. You show him no respect at all!

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getting aso to apologise is a bit much when it was only recently he was forced to admit the brutal slavery or POWs associated with the family biz.

Eventually jpns lack of remorse will catch up with her & none of her neighbours will be too sorry if it happens

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LFRAgain - very well said.

Brunobear - much of the Jewish community litigation is aimed at recovering pre-war community assets that were raided by the Nazi and collaborator parties.

Much of mainland Europe mysteriously emptied holdings and accounts (even in 'neutral' Switzerland) from '39 and before. Recovery of stolen assets is a little different from punitive damages.

Something else to think about also, the Treaty of San Francisco was signed by many international countries, but who represented the Jewish Community? They were, at the time, citizens of many countries, yet were compensated (if at all) the same as any regular citizen, not reflective of the genocide that took place.....

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wibble: Yes, my close friends have had about fifteen Jewish people from around the globe they have never heard of making competing claims to their former Berlin Assets and they have just got something out of it in recent times. As I understand it, they are only concerning themselves with Jewish claims? Who is the Jewish community? I thought Jewish people were citizens of countries like everyone else during WW11 that signed that 1954 SF agreement. Besides seeking to make recovery on pre-war assets, they also obtained substantial reparations (compensation)from Germany for their suffering. Who else received reparations?

I empathise with the Jews that suffered financially from Hitlers misdeeds and also Bernie Madoff's recently. If you look at the 600 page list of Madoff's investers, they were mainly Jews.

The point is whether Mr Coombes has a reasonable justification for asking that the Japanese Company that allegedly enslaved and brutalized him (and his 300 Allied comrades)should meet him and here his complaint. He was probably unaware that the Company continued to suuceesfully trade and prosper until recently, we don't get a lot of Japanese news in Australia unless you read JT. The same applies to the Jewish complainants. They would never have made their claims on their own without a huge Jewish diaspora orchestrating it for them and many are still being made. Do wrong and the world pays you back, sometimes it takes its time, but Aso Mining Company might be just being caught up with by the world.

Moderator: Stay on topic please. References and comparisons to Jewish complainants are not relevant to this particular discussion.

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Mr. Coombs is going to meet Aso Corporation officials this week according to other news reports. An apology from these people, on behalf of the company, is great.

He's is also going meet with lawmakers on thursday. That's also great.

But this is not appropriate, in my opinion:

"Coombs said Aso should 'be the one to apologize for the family's involvement in the mine and also as head of the government.'" (from www.straightstimes.com).

Aso is not responsible for his relatives actions, and has no reason to apologise in the capacity of head of government.

If I was Aso, I would call his bluff, meet the guy for a few minutes and say "I'm sorry". How would certain people react? Would they give Aso credit for going above and beyond his duty? Or would they find another reason to hate Japan?

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And one more comment: Should I apologise for my grandfather's part in World War 2 against the Japanese? I think not.

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Should I apologise for my grandfather's part in World War 2 against the Japanese?

Depends on whether he kept slave labor.

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abromofo: Thank you for your advice. Australians are very forgiving people and I would bet London to a brick that is what really drives Mr Coombes.

This action by officials of Aso Corporation might go a long way in healing old wounds before this 88 year old man dies. It could be good for Aso Mining Company, the Aso family, Mr Coombes and any remaining comrades.

By the way I am 64 and have lived in Melbourne all my life. I never hear of anybody talking about hating the Japanese, except by some old POW's. We might hate the events and behavior of WW11, that is another thing altogether.

Few Japanese immigrate here for some reason, but many come for a good holiday. Japanese people are very welcome in Australia. I used to train young Japanese trainee bankers in the seventies and they were all good guys. I also looked after all the Japanese Corporations that banked with my bank. We put on a great party for them every Xmas.

All is well that ends well.

If there is two countries in the world that could really benefit from each other, it is Australia and Japan.

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Why should he, it was his father who did that stuff, not him. I don't apologize for what my ancestors may or may not have done. Would you want your son or daughter or grandson or grandaughter to apologize for all the bad stuff you may do/have done?

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if you believe that "group responsibility" is, or should be, applied in japan then yes, aso should at least reoongnise the sins of his family. after all, the only reason he is prime minister is one the coat tails of previous family successes. stands to reason that you can't have the pros without the cons.

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Moderator: If there are other media reports that Aso Mining Co officials will now see 88 year old POW, Mr Coombes, may we have that reported in JT for our edification?

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Germany has paid at least 10 times as much as Japan in WWII reparations. Darn right the Japanese better start coughing up some dough. Not just Lafarge-Aso Mining, but to their neighbors whom they still owe so much.

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The Potsdam conference held Germany to pay $20bn to the Allies. The Treaty of SanFrancisco took >$25bn from Japan.

Oh, something else I did not know until checking out - that 4,000,000 German POWs were used as forced labour after the war to meet obligations.

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