(Los Angeles, CA — July 22, 2015) – Japanese Corporate giant Mitsubishi proved on Monday that it’s never too late to offer an apology.
Even if it takes 70 years.
On July 20, top executives from Mitsubishi Materials came to Los Angeles and offered in-person apologies to James Murphy, a 94-year-old World War II veteran who was forced into slavery by Mitsubishi between 1944 and 1945.
In addition to apologizing to Murphy for his brutal treatment and forced slave labor, Mitsubishi executives also apologized for taking so long to apologize.
“They came with their heads bowed and their hearts heavy,” said a Japanese journalist, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They had many things to apologize for, and it’s nice that they were able to apologize to [Murphy] before he dropped dead from old age.
“And yet they’re grateful in some ways. They’re happy that the lack of food, clothing, medicine, and sanitation didn’t kill him.”
Murphy represents just one of about 12,000 American POWs who were forced into slave labor. Of that number, about 10% died at the hands of their captors.
According to a State Department source, speaking on condition of anonymity, POWs who suffered at the hands of the Japanese are prevented from seeking legal action against Japanese companies. The 1951 peace treaty between the United States and Japan makes such legal claims impossible.
“I guess the Federal government figured that Japan was a country too big to fail,” said a World War II veteran, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Sensing they were on a roll, Mitsubishi executives continued with their list of apologies.
“We would also like to formally apologize for the 1986 Mitsubishi Galant [sedan],” said a Mitsubishi spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Also, the L300 [van] – major embarrassment. And that whole ’20-year cover-up’ thing? Yeah, we’re sorry about that, too.
“But I did want to tell everyone that we’re offering low, low prices and 0.9% APR for new car purchases. And I have brochures featuring our 2016 vehicle lineup if anyone’s interested!”
The “20-year cover-up” comment refers to the discovery in 2000 of Mitsubishi Motors covering up defects in their vehicles going back to the 1980s – leading to dozens of accidents and at least two deaths. The purpose of the cover-up was to avoid mandatory vehicle recalls. At the time, Mitsubishi said it knew of four defects; the number was actually closer to 30. When a recall was finally ordered, it affected over 160,000 vehicles.