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Japanese Treatment Towards POW’s

Heroes Remember

Japanese Treatment Towards POW’s

The Japanese culture has little regard for prisoners of war. Their values are never to surrender and never to be taken prisoner so their treatment of prisoners of war was nothing like the German or the British and western ideas of how to treat prisoners. It takes about 3,000 calories to keep a soldier... a person, a hard working person alive. We were fed about 1,200. This had a very severe effect on the health of the prisoners, of course, and gradually the prisoners began to die of malnutrition. The Japanese had no real plans for how to treat prisoners of war. They refused to obey the principles of the Geneva Convention that governs the treatment of prisoners of war. You can only wonder that they were so interested in using us as slave labor but they would starve us at the same time. You could only conclude that they hoped that eventually we would all die in captivity. They had no, I don't think they had any idea that we would be, that they would look after us well enough to see us return even if they were victorious. I think that you can only conclude, and the report of the Far East War Crimes tribunal concluded, that this was, it must have been, a deliberate strategy to eventually have all the prisoners of war disappear through malnutrition.

Mr. MacDonell gives his thoughts on why they may have been treated so badly.

George MacDonell

Mr. MacDonell was born in Edmonton, Alberta on August 15, 1922. He lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his uncle and family. In 1939, he ran away from home and made the decision to join the army. Mr. MacDonell served as Company Sergeant Major during the Battle of Hong Kong and in 1941 was captured and was a POW for four years. Post-military, Mr. MacDonell earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto and went on to have a successful business career. Mr. MacDonell is very active in his city and very proud of having served. Mr. MacDonell is retired and resides in Toronto, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George MacDonell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada
Vehicle Technician

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