HC Deb 07 October 1942 vol 383 cc1189-91
6. Wing-Commander Hulbert

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any statement in regard to the treatment of British subjects detained by the Japanese in the Far East; and when complete lists of prisoners may be expected to reach this country?

Mr. Eden

As the reply is rather long and is necessarily somewhat detailed, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

According to such information as is available the position in the various areas is as follows:

Hong Kong.—Conditions have shown some improvement since the early days but the general health of the internees has seriously suffered from lack of proper food and medicines. 1,000 tons of food, clothing and medicines have reached Hong Kong while a sum of money has been sent to the International Red Cross Committee delegate for relief purposes.

Malaya.—Information is practically unobtainable. No International Red Cross Committee delegate has been appointed up to the present despite repeated requests to the Japanese Government to permit such an appointment. The Japanese Government do not allow the Protecting Power to function in the occupied territories and in the absence in Malaya either of a representative of the Protecting Power or of a Red Cross delegate, no neutral channel for information as to the welfare of British subjects there is available.

China.—A report has been received of the internment of 59 British subjects including naval ratings and merchant seamen. At the time of the report parcels sent by the British Association at Shanghai had not been distributed. At Canton 70 British subjects were interned in a hotel. They were reasonably well treated and were allowed to draw on their bank accounts for their subsistence. All British subjects at Swatow were reported interned last April. No news has been received of their subsequent release.

Japan.—According to a recent report all British subjects have been interned. Visits to them are forbidden. Lists of internees have been promised. There were already internment camps at Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, Nagasaki and Sendai, containing 145 British subjects. Conditions at these camps varied. Food was on the whole adequate, though with one exception not abundant, but could be supplemented from outside; accommodation is described as the best available, although not up to European standards, except at Kobe, where one camp was in a badly situated third class native hotel. No criticism of health or sanitary conditions was put forward. Facilities for exercise were limited, but at one camp included tennis and walks. In at least one camp occasional visits were allowed.

Netherland East Indies.—The only information received is that 15 British subjects were interned in May and were being well treated.

Philippines.—All British subjects of European descent, numbering nearly 2,000, have been interned except natives of Eire, but temporary passes to reside outside have been granted in the case of men over 60, expectant mothers and children. The majority are interned at the University of Manila. They receive a minimum of food from the Philippine Red Cross, but may supplement this from outside. Conditions are less satisfactory in the camps at Baguio, Davao and Cebu, where internees' money has been taken away and used for the purchase of food. British subjects in China and Japan may receive through the Protecting Power cash advances from British funds for their maintenance. Complete lists of prisoners of war have not yet been received, but the Japanese Government are being continually pressed to suppy them. I regret to be unable to state when they may be expected.