Japan's foreign minister apologized Monday for the suffering of a group of former World War II prisoners of war visiting from the United States and said they were treated inhumanely.

The six POWs, their relatives and the daughters of two men who died are the first group of U.S. POWs to visit Japan with government sponsorship, though groups from other countries have been invited previously.

"I offer my deep, heartfelt apology for the inhuman treatment you suffered," Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told the group.

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