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WASHINGTON (Kyodo) A group of American veterans held as prisoners of war by Japan during World War II called Wednesday for passage of a bill that would require the federal government to provide compensation to them and other survivors of Japanese captivity.

The veterans made the pitch at a news conference on Capitol Hill. The legislation would provide one-time compensation of $20,000 each to surviving veterans, government employees or government contractors who were imprisoned during the war, as well as to their surviving spouses.

The bill says other countries, including Britain and Canada, “have previously awarded such compensation to their surviving veterans who were captured by the Japanese during World War II and required to perform slave labor.”

“Currently, the United States is the only Western Allied power that has not awarded similar compensation to these distinguished heroes of World War II who were prisoners of war of Japan,” it says.

It is estimated that only 1,750 survivors and widows are still alive.

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