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Mitsubishi apologizes for using American POWs as laborers in WWII

Senior executives from Mitsubishi Materials held a press conference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles on Sunday to formally apologize for using American prisoners of war as forced laborers during World War II.

Mitsubishi used around 500 American POWs as forced laborers between 1943 and 1945, according to the Associated Press.

The apology was given to one of the World War II veterans who worked in Mitsubishi’s labor camps in the 1940s.

James Murphy is a Santa Maria, California, native and a 94-year-old veteran who spent one year working in a Mitsubishi-owned copper mine near Hanawa, Japan, during the war.

Murphy accepted the apology on behalf of all POWs who worked in forced labor camps. He is one of only two living veterans whom Mitsubishi could find to accept the apology, according to the BBC.

The Japanese government formally apologized to U.S. veterans and their families five years ago, but this is the first example of a Japanese company doing the same.

According to the Associated Press, an estimated 12,000 American prisoners of war were used as forced laborers in Japan over the course of the war, and about 10 percent died.