Although America has seen the majority of legislative efforts to compensate WWII victims as well as urge the Japanese government and/or firms to issue a formal apology, most of these efforts have failed to provide material compensation as they often terminate in committee hearings. Yet, in other countries that were allied with America during WWII, significant efforts have been made to provide material compensation to former WWII victims. Below, we provide a list of some of these efforts.
If there is information concerning this topic that has been overlooked, please contact us.
In 1952, the Australian government set up a POW Fund to provide payments to members of the armed forces who had suffered as a POW and needed financial assistance. By the time the Fund closed in 1977, it had dispersed almost A$1 million in aid. In the mid-70s, the government extended to all WWII POWs free medical, hospital, dental and optical treatment irrespective of whether their injuries were war related or not. This later became the Veterans’ Gold Card. On May 25, 2001, Australia passed into law a bill offering compensation for those Australians interned by Japan during the war. The aim of the law was to provide a one-off compensation payment of A$25,000 to those interned as a POW by the Japanese. The rationale behind the legislation was to give recognition to the hardship and suffering endured by those Australians who were held captive by Japan. To be eligible for the compensation, one must be a veteran who was a POW between December 7, 1941 and October 29, 1945 or a widow/widower of a former POW between these dates. A further requirement was to be alive on January 1, 2001. If this was not the case, the former POW’s estate was eligible to receive the compensation.
Although government-to-government claims were settled by the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty, veteran groups representing former Canadian forced laborers in Hong Kong sought additional compensation from Japan for their forced labor. In the same year, Canadian veterans who were POWs did get payment for C$1 per day of captivity from their government. In 1958, they received a further C$.50. On December 11, 1998, the Canadian government agreed to pay, tax-free, C$24,000 (U.S.$15,600) to those Canadian POWs who were captured in Hong Kong by the Japanese military during WWII or their surviving families. The payment was scheduled to cover more than 700 surviving veterans or their spouses.
Influenced by the ex-gratia payments being made to former POWs in the UK and Canada, New Zealand veterans of WWII began pressing their own government for similar compensation. On April 23, 2001 the New Zealand government announced that it would pay a one-off, tax-free payment of NZ$30,000 to former POWs of Japan.
United Kingdom (Great Britain)
After decades of resistance from the British government to pay former Japanese-held POWs compensation, on November 8, 2000 Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to initiate a compensation package to pay thousands of British servicemen held POW by the Japanese. According to the decision, each former-POW will receive payments of £10,000 ($15,000). The payment plan is scheduled to cover up to 16,700 former POWs, including camp survivors and their widows.