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PM Sorry For POWs Long Wait For Compensation

Prime Minister Helen Clark today said she was sorry it has taken over 55 years for New Zealand soldiers held by Japan during the Second World War to be compensated by the Government for their horrendous treatment by the Japanese.

Miss Clark said it was tragic that only a small few veterans of the Japanese Prisoner of War camps are still alive, with the Government estimating just 150 will be eligible for the ex gratia payment of $30,000 per person being offered to ex-POWs and civilian internees of Japan or their surviving spouse.

The Prime Minister said the Government would not be asking for the Japanese Government to pay for the compensation, or make an apology, although Miss Clark said she believed Japan owed New Zealand veterans an apology for its treatment of them during the war.

Miss Clark would not offer an explanation for why it had taken so long for a New Zealand Government to compensate soldiers for the horrific conditions they were subjected to, or why the New Zealand Government waited for Canada and Britain to set a precedent before offering our veterans compensations.

The compensation for the mistreatment, which saw 25 per cent of soldiers die in captivity and most others fall ill, comes as part of an improved package for veterans announced by the Government today.

Government Press Releases:
- Ex gratia payments to ex-POWs of Japan
- Transfer of Veterans' Pension legislation
- Better recognition and support for war veterans
- Veterans case management and one-stop shop
- Better health treatment for veterans' children
- Veterans' package fact sheet

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