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Ex gratia payments to ex-POWs of Japan

23 April 2001 Media Statement

Ex gratia payments to ex-POWs and civilian internees of Japan

The Government announced today that it will make an ex gratia payment of $30,000 per person to ex-prisoners of war and civilian internees of Japan, or their surviving spouse.

The payment will be made in recognition of the extreme severity and harshness of the conditions of those who were held in captivity by Japan.

Helen Clark and Veterans Affairs Minister Mark Burton said the conditions in Japanese prison camps during World War Two were horrific.

"The mortality rate for prisoners of war of Japan and civilian internees was around 25 per cent, a horrifying statistic. Most suffered illness and appalling mistreatment in the prison camps.

"This payment will be made by the New Zealand Government in recognition of the extraordinary hardships endured by New Zealand prisoners of war and civilian internees. It has no bearing on any action which may be being taken by the former POWs and internees in respect to compensation from other governments.

"This decision is about fairness and recognising special needs," Helen Clark and Mark Burton said.

People who think they may be eligible should contact the Office of Veterans’ Affairs. It is estimated that there are around 150 people who will be eligible for the payment.


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