Showa Denko "yet to decide" over prisoner of war apology

Japanese companies are feeling the heat after Mitsubishi apologized for using US POWs as forced labor in WW2.

Showa Denko has more than 180 subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide
Showa Denko has more than 180 subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide

Japanese chemicals, plastics and electronics firm Showa Denko has told PRWeek it is "yet to decide" if it will apologize for using US prisoners of war as forced labor during World War Two.

Yesterday the Mitsubishi Corporation in Japan issued a formal apology for the firm's use of US prisoners of war as forced labor in its mines.

The apology was made to one of the few remaining survivors, James Murphy, at the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

It immediately led to calls for other Japanese companies to follow the firm's lead and say sorry.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Nippon Steel, Showa Denko K.K and Mitsui are among around 40 Japanese companies accused of using forced labor at shipyards and mines.

A spokesman for Showa Denko—which has a fully-owned US subsidiary, Showa Denko America—said: "We have yet to decide what to do with the matter."

Yesterday two leading Asia PR execs told PRWeek the companies had to consider what was the "right thing to do".

Ruder Finn's SVP of reputation management in Asia, Charles Lankester, said Mitsubishi's apology would have a knock-on effect for other companies.

"This is a major development which will almost certainly have implications for other Japanese corporations," he told PRWeek.

"Personally, I always hold situations similar to Mitsubishi's up to the light of 'what's the right thing to do'. It's simple to say, but extremely complex in reality."

Burson-Marsteller Asia CEO Margaret Key said other apologies would be "well received".

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