Soldier stories

EXPOW'S RESTITUTION AND FINANCIAL COMPENSATION. Submitted by Ken Newton (son of George W. Newton).

In regard to some 22,400 Australian; army, navy and air-force personnel, who became Japanese prisoners of war (P.O.W.s), about 14,370 were alive after 3.5 years of in-humane brutality and starvation. This was a death-rate of 36%. The British and Americans had similar rates. These can be compared with a death-rate of about 3.2% for P.O.W.s in Germany, over a comparable period.

With the 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion; 865 became Japanese P.O.W.s with 607 being freed in August, 1945; a death rate of 30%.

On return to Australia, most Japanese P.O.W.s put in a claim for an entitlement for the princely sum of 3 shillings per day over their pay, in accordance with the regulations applying for the case where the Defence Department could not supply them with meals. This amounted to about 189 pounds; about a quarter of the on-road cost of the first “Holden FX” car.

After 5 years of stalling on this claim by the Curtin and Menzies Governments, it was rejected on the basis that their fighting services had not been available, their living conditions were outside of the Government’s control and that a precedent would be set for the seeking of a monetary premium by remaining as P.O.W.s in future wars.

At the time, the International Red Cross (I.R.C.), on behalf of all hurt by the Japanese, was trying to gather money from Japanese assets and the sale of the Burma-Thailand railway. The Government decided that compensation should be sought from the I.R.C. In 1958 the I.R.C. announced a 86 pound payment for each P.O.W.

Earlier in 1951, the U.S. Government enacted the San Francisco Peace Treaty, by which was waived all reparation claims against Japan. This resulted in Japan’s war reparations being only about 1% of that which Germany was forced to make.

In respect of those Japanese P.O.W.s; army, navy, air-force, Australian, British or American; surviving at the time :-
1948: U.S.A. - $1.00 per day of internment,
1950: U.S.A. - a further $1.50 for the in-humane treatment in the camps,
2001: U.K. - 10,000 pounds to each,
2002: Australia - $25,000 each to the approximate 2,700 still living but with nothing to widows or family.

All of this needs to be contrasted with America where in 1995, each Japanese-American who had been interned as an “alien”, even for only one day, received $20,000 for the violation of their civil liberties.