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WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki offered a direct apology Saturday to a group of World War II veterans taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines.

Thousands of them died during the infamous Bataan Death March and later in prisoner of war camps.

“We extend a heartfelt apology for our country having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people,” Fujisaki said in San Antonio, Texas, at a meeting of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

A representative of the group, which is made up of U.S. veterans who fought on Corregidor island and the Bataan Peninsula, said he thinks it was “honorable” of the ambassador to attend the assembly and deliver in person an official apology from the Japanese government.

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