HC Deb 06 April 1943 vol 388 cc515-6W
Major Markham

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now make a further statement on the position and welfare of men of His Majesty's Forces taken prisoner by the Japanese, including the Red Cross and correspondence position?

Sir J. Grigg

Yes, Sir. Telegrams have arrived from Geneva which show that the delegate of the International Red Cross Committee in Tokyo has recently visited six prisoner of war camps near Osaka and seven near Fukuoaka. The telegrams from Geneva specially mention the good morale in the latter group of camps but there is little further information. Considerable details are, however, given about conditions at the former group.

Two of the six prisoner of war camps near Osaka contain Dutch from Java and the other four contain British and American prisoners of war. The British prisoners in these camps have come from Hong Kong. The Japanese officer in charge of these camps is said to be correct and understanding in his attitude to the prisoners.

In five camps the prisoners of war are housed in wooden framed one-storey barrack-huts. The sixth camp, which contains a number of officers, is in a four-storied brick building (a former warehouse) in the business quarter of Kobe. The sleeping arrangements appear to be adequate and the quarters are clean and tidy. There is a prisoner of war doctor in each camp and the sick are also visited by Japanese doctors. Each camp has its own infirmary but the more serious cases are sent to local military hospitals. The men are employed on various types of work for which they receive working pay. Officer prisoners of war receive pay according to the corresponding ranks in the Japanese Army.

The Japanese have provided a certain amount of clothing; but more is needed. The food rations are reported to be satisfactory in quality but they are not very substantial and are naturally of a Japanese type. There are canteens in the camps from which sweets and some tobacco can be purchased, but stocks are very limited. Each man is allowed between 150 and 200 cigarettes a month. There are only a few books in the camps. Some of the British prisoners had already received, while in Hong Kong, Red Cross relief supplies sent through the Diplomatic Exchange ships. The Red Cross delegate is taking action to obtain more clothing, medical supplies, games and literature. Some thousands of letters have been delivered to prisoners of war in Japan and Japanese occupied territory. The International Red Cross Committee who forwarded this report added that a further distribution was in prospect as sorting proceeds.