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Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007
Fukuda apologizes to war-displaced
By MASAMI ITO
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda issued an apology Wednesday for the ordeal endured by Japanese who as children were left behind in China in 1945.
"I cannot even imagine the hardships that (the war-displaced Japanese) went through after the war," Fukuda said. "But you are all Japanese citizens and therefore you have the same right as other Japanese to be happy."
Fukuda offered the apology to the so-called war orphans after the media were asked to leave the room, according to those present at the meeting, including Sumie Ikeda, one of the war-displaced and leader of a group suing the government for compensation.
"The prime minister offered his heartfelt apology and we accepted it," Ikeda said in tears. "(Fukuda) said he was sorry that the country didn't take (measures) quickly and we suffered for so long."
Ikeda added that she expressed her gratitude to Fukuda for the newly enacted law to give the war-displaced compensation.
"I want to live in Japan as a respected Japanese citizen," Ikeda said. "I told Prime Minister Fukuda that I would like to contribute to Japan by becoming a bridge for friendship between Japan and China."
The Diet enacted the law last week to give support measures to the estimated 6,000 war-displaced Japanese who have resettled in Japan with benefits of up to ¥146,000 a month for each single-person household.
Lawsuits filed by about 2,200 of the war-displaced are currently pending.