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Friday, 10 April, 1998, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
PoWs' anger at Akihito honour
PoWs
Former PoWs are still awaiting compensation
The Queen's intention to give Emperor Akihito of Japan the Order of the Garter will spur protests, a leader of Japanese war camp survivors has warned.

Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Akihito will receive the Order during a state visit to Britain, which starts on May 26 - the first by a Japanese emperor for nearly three decades.

But the decision has infuriated Britons who were held in Japanese prison camps during World War II.

Arthur Titherington
Arthur Titherington: "My first feeling is despair"
The Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook were to blame for having advised the Queen to bestow the honour, said Arthur Titherington, Chairman of the Japanese Labour Camps Survivors Association.

Former PoWs, who are demanding an apology for their treatment, say the decision highlights the sensitive timing of the award at a time they are still fighting for compensation.

Mr Titherington said: "I am afraid this is going to harden people's views about protesting during the Emperor's visit."

Martyn Day, solicitor for the Japanese Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees Association, said the PoWs felt the honour was "surprising" at a time when many veterans were awaiting the outcome of a long-running legal battle for compensation from the Japanese authorities.

"I think many will be very disappointed and very surprised that the Queen sees fit to take this course of action," he said.

"It comes at a time when the Japanese have found it still impossible properly to atone for what they did in the Second World War to PoWs."

Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten, chairman of the all-party group on prisoners of war, said he hoped that Japan would use the state visit to announce a new apology and compensation.

"The all-party group welcomes closer links between Japan and Britain and, while supporting this honour, believes it should be reciprocated with a full apology and compensation from Japan towards the prisoners of war," he said.

"We hope the Emperor will use his visit to announce this."

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