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Australian FM welcomes Japan's apology to former Australian POWs

03-04-2011 13:52 BJT

CANBERRA, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Friday welcomed an apology from Japan to a group of Australian former prisoners of war (POWs) for the pain and suffering they endured as captives during World War II.

On Friday, Japanese foreign minister Seiji Maehara offered five old Australian soldiers in person an apology in Tokyo, saying that he was sorry from the bottom of his heart for their treatment.

Of the 22,000 Australian prisoners of the Japanese, more than a-third died in captivity.

Rudd has welcomed the move, and also thanked the Japanese government for their offer to return historical records of Australian former POWs held by Japan during World War II.

"I welcome their offer which is made in the spirit of cooperation," Rudd told ABC News on Friday.

"These index cards were originally offered to Australia by the Japanese government in 1953, but the Australian Government of the time chose not to take up the offer, believing that they would not contain any new information."

Meanwhile, Veterans' Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the Japanese records may shed light on the fate of the members of Lark Force, many of whom were lost when the Japanese transport Montevideo Maru was sunk by a U.S. submarine in 1942.

He said the Government recognizes that there are families who remain uncertain about the fate of those captured by the Japanese during World War II.

He added that in recent years, the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society have maintained interest in the fate of Australian prisoners of war and have pressed the Australian Government to seek access to the card system.

The records are expected to be housed in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Last year the Japanese government offered a similar apology to a visiting group of American former POWs.


Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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