LOS ANGELES (Kyodo) Two Americans who survived the Bataan Death March during World War II are urging a leading Japanese magazine to apologize for an article they claim denigrates the deaths and suffering during the infamous forced march in the Philippines.

The two survivors — Lester Tenney, 86, a professor emeritus of finance at Arizona State University, and Robert Brown, 81, a retired chief master surgeon for the U.S. Air Force — announced at a news conference Friday that they sent a letter to Bungeishunju seeking an apology because they felt “the intention of the article was not to recall history, but to rewrite it.”

The article, headlined “A woman retraced the entire route of the ‘Bataan Death March’ alone” by journalist Yukie Sasa, was published in the December issue of Bungeishunju.

“It is very difficult to go back 20, 30, 40, 50, or possibly 60 years to recreate a situation. That is almost impossible to do,” Tenney said. “That’s what the young lady tried to do.”

She admitted in her story that it is impossible to verify all the stories and hardships that each prisoner of war experienced at the hands of Japanese soldiers, considering the change of scenery after so many years and the physical condition they were in at that time, but she claimed that the real experience of a 30-year-old woman who is not athletic should offer an example.

After she finished walking the entire route of 102 km in four days, she came to the conclusion that a human being would not die just by walking this distance. Therefore, she stated, the march itself did not kill POWs but diseases such as malaria did, and it is not correct to say the Japanese military bore all responsibility.

Tenney said of the article, “It ended up (as) some obnoxious comments. Statements there were so far from the truth and it would upset all POWs who have made the march.”

In their three-page letter, they pointed out the information that they thought was incorrect, and questioned the publisher’s intention in printing the article.

“Ms. Sasa voiced opinions that had no relationship to actual events that took place 64 years ago. In fact, she walked those many kilometers, but learned so very little,” the letter says.

“Please remember we POWs walked with Japanese soldiers constantly hollering at us, and if we didn’t walk fast enough they beat us with whatever they had available, the butt of a rifle, a sword, a cane or a piece of bamboo,” it says.

The Bataan Death March, which was classified as a war crime, took place in 1942 when tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers who had surrendered to Japanese troops on the Bataan Peninsula were forced to march through the jungle to a prison camp.

Thousands perished from starvation, thirst, disease and random execution during the journey.

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