By a Staff Reporter
When Mr. Haramersley asked Mr. Eden in the House of Com mons last week if the food situation in Japanese prisoner of war and internees camps was any better, the Foreign Secretary was unable to reassure him.
MTS. L. Forster, whose husband, Mr. Lancelot Forster, was a professor at the Hong Konla University until the Japanes-e occupation, has told me something about conditions in these cutups. • Letters come only at very long intervals and are not very informative, but with the information they do give and supplemented by news brought out by exchanged American and Dominion prisoners and neutrals, some kind of a esenposite picture can be made.
" The last letter I had from my husband," Mrs. Forster said, " was in January of this year, and it was written last September. That is a much quicker delivery than usual and very probably it came on one of the exchange ships. Very few British have been'exchangecl because we had so few Japanese in this country—unlike the United States and some of the Dominions.
" There is no evidence from either the lettera or reports from exchanged prisoners that conditions in the Hong Kong camps are bad. And there is no eyidence either that the letters which we are receiving from our relatives in these camps have been ' dictated,' as some reports have said, The Japanese guards are not harsh or offensive and,
band's camp is the former barber at the Hong Kong Club! He was quite popular with the Europeans before the war and I haven't heard that he has changed.
HIET—THE WORST HARDSHIP
The great hardship is, and has been front the beginning, the poor diet. Unlike the prisoners in Germany who 'were helped by the Red Cross, our pHs-niters in [long Kong have not been allowed to receive Red Cross parcels. The Japanese won't let ships transport them from Vladivosrock, where thousands of parcels have been waiting for over a year for the Japanese Government In r#lease them. Our only lkope is getting extras through on the few exchange ships.
"Strangely enough, this scanty diet is quite in keeping with international law, which says that the prisoners shall have no less than their guards. But Japanese are able to exist on a sparse diet of rice, a little tish and vegetables —which is not sufficient for the European frame. All kinds of deficiency diseases have resulted, including intermittent blindness in which the eye registers a blank and sometimes sees objects far removed from their actual location.
"The fortunate section of Hong Kong population that has escaped internment—neutrals.. Italians and so on—help the prisoners by supplementing their rations. The Italian 'priests did wonderful work, I know, and so did the Catholic Irish missionaries," PROFESSOR AT HIS WORK
Professor Forster has taken charge of the educational side of the camp, has organised a school for the children, several of whom have been able to matriculate. He also holds university
The prisoners are allowed to go bathing, walking, hold discussion grotms, and have even had a post-war economic conference. But, in spite of all this good news, the knowledge that there is not enough to eat is worrying the prisoners' and internees' relatives, and the sooner the Japanese allow the Red Cross to alleviate the situation the better.