Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney acknowledged the apology while leading a delegation of veterans to Japan. It was delivered by Toshiyuki Kato, Japan’s parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs.
“This important gesture is a crucial step in ongoing reconciliation and a significant milestone in the lives of all prisoners of war. It acknowledges their suffering while honouring their sacrifices and courage,” Mr. Blaney said in a statement.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the apology would help in healing the “terrible pain and heavy burden of the Second World War.” Mr. Baird said it would allow both countries to move forward.
Soldiers were taken captive after being forced to surrender Christmas Day 1941 after fierce fighting in the Battle of Hong Kong where 290 Canadians were killed and another 493 were wounded. Prisoners in Japanese POW camps were subjected to gross mistreatment by their captors.
Canadians, and other Allied soldiers, captured by Japanese forces were subjected to forced labour, starvation and beatings. Before the end of the war, 267 men died in captivity.