HC Deb 26 October 1943 vol 393 cc20-1
17. Colonel Arthur Evans

asked the Secretary of State for War whether anything can be done to secure fuller and swifter information regarding the prisoners of war in Japanese hands and the deaths which have occurred in the Japanese prison camps; and the number of men who have died in these camps?

Sir J. Grigg

We have repeatedly pressed the Japanese Government to give us the names of prisoners in their hands and other information regarding them. We shall continue to do so, but as my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, we must in the last resort depend on the willingness of the Japanese Government to discharge the obligations commonly accepted by civilised nations. They have hitherto shown a lack of disposition to do so. The total number of deaths of United Kingdom prisoners of war reported by the Japanese is 1,232.

Colonel Evans

In view of the high mortality in Japanese prisoner of war camps, will my right hon. Friend consider asking the International Red Cross to see whether it is possible for them to report on the situation?

Sir J. Grigg

That has been done many times, and the Protecting Power is fully aware of our views on the subject. Constant representations and inquiries have been made in Tokio.

Captain Ganunans

Have the Japanese been informed that they will be held personally responsible for this contravention of the Geneva Convention and the ill-treatment of our prisoners of war?

Sir J. Grigg

A general warning has been given over and over again by the Prime Minister, but I am not quite clear whether this specific charge was included in his warning. I will refresh my memory about that.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of mothers got an intimation at the beginning of June that their sons were prisoners of war in Japanese hands? They have written the regulation 25 words to the address given, but not on one occasion have they received a line of any kind from the boys who are prisoners.

Sir J. Grigg

I am afraid that is very nearly the universal experience.