Mitsubishi ... and World War II Slave Labor

James Murphy

The following are excerpts from James T Murphy's account of life at Hanawa POW Camp for Mitsubishi Kogyo Osarusawa Kozan's Osarizawa Copper Mine[harrisonheritage.com/adbc/murphy.htm ]


Japanese camp commander gave a speech telling us that ... we would be working at the Mitsubishi copper mine and must work very, very hard. ...A Japanese civilian employee from Mitsubishi company was assigned to each work detail and was called the Honcho. Honchos carried large, heavy walking sticks and were proficient in its use to "encourage" POWs to work.

...This mine required hard labor to extract additional ore and previous owners had declared it non-productive. But Mitsubishi was determined to continue operation as long as there was breath remaining in the American POWs... The threat of death came from many sources ...[including] the hatred from the Mitsubishi employees who directed our slave labor and were hell bent to work us to death to accomplish their goal of copper production.

... The repair procedures required the shoveling and handling by hand—a back breaking difficult job for the emaciated POWs. This job was made worse by the severe cold and snow during the winter months. Most work was done by hand and required heavy lifting.

... The miners had the worst job. Their walk down into the deepest bowels of the earth and their work down in the mine was dirty, dangerous and difficult. Each was furnished a carbide headlamp as his only lighting. A quota was set but the Japanese were always raising the quota. The number of carloads and men were never enough and men were brutalized for not working hard enough or fast enough.

The work contract between the Japanese Imperial Army and the officials of Mitsubishi called for the Army to deliver a given number of POWs to the mine each day, six days per week. The POWs would then be turned over to the mining company for the daily work activities. The company had not counted on the sick and emaciated condition of the POWs. ... In order to fill the daily work quota, the healthy POWs were having to carry the weak POWs up to the mine. Once at the mine, no amount of coercion could force the emaciated sick POWs to perform any type of work.

Enduring and surviving the cold winter weather at Hanawa was our greatest challenge. ... I never got warm—not even in the bathhouse, the entire time I was at Hanawa.


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(Last Updated: January 15, 2004.)

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Some Keywords: World War 2, WWII, WW II, slave labor, slave labour, USA, POW, Japan, Mitsubishi

"In order to fill the daily work quota, the healthy POWs were having to carry the weak POWs up to the mine. "

A Mitsubishi- Eclipse of Ethics presentation.