Widows' lament

MOST Asians will have welcomed new Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa public apology for his country's ''war of aggression''.

They will have been relieved that, at last, Japan's leaders have accepted a measure of responsibility for the agonies their countrymen inflicted on the region.

It is therefore strange to find a small group of people in Hong Hong who can justifiably still harbour resentment against the country whose cause they supported during World War II - Britain.

The British Government is still resisting demands to issue passports to Hong Kong's 25 surviving wives and widows of prisoners of war.

Today we illustrate their plight through the moving story of Doris Kotwall, whose brave husband, Jimmy, was executed during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong for resisting the invaders.

Through the relentless efforts of PoW rights campaigner Jack Edwards, the women have written countless letters and lodged applications for passports to the Government and its respective departme nts.


All have been rejected.

At the age of 77, Mrs Kotwall is still being told she would have to live for a ''substantial period'' in Britain before they could apply for a passport.

This is nonsense.

The British Government has a moral obligation to this small number of women.


They may not necessarily want to live in the United Kingdom but should be granted a passport any way, in case their circumstances change.

No British opinion poll is needed on this issue.


It is just a question of the British Government doing the right thing.