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Home >> China
UPDATED: 21:10, April 27, 2007
Japan top court rejects wartime Chinese damage lawsuit
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Japan's Supreme Court on Friday turned down a damage lawsuit filed by former Chinese laborers who were forced to work in Japan during World War II.

The top court's final ruling rejected the demands of the five plaintiffs that Tokyo-based construction contractor Nishimatsu Construction Co. apologize and compensate.

The court said that Chinese individuals have no right to demand war reparations from Japan.

After the ruling was delivered, "unjust ruling," "shameless" and other words of criticism were immediately heard at the court.

"The top court just wants to escape from its responsibility," Shao Yicheng, 81, one of the five plaintiffs told a press conference.

The damages suit was filed in 1998 by Shao Yicheng, Song Yicheng and 3 families of the deceased laborers, who were among some 360 Chinese forced by Nishimatsu Construction to labor under severe conditions at a working site in Hiroshima prefecture in southern Japan during WWII.

The Supreme Court's ruling, however, recognized the sufferings of the forced laborers and called on "concerned people to make efforts to provide relief to the victims."

"The final ruling by the top court recognizes the fact that Nishimatsu abducted and forced Chinese to labor in Japan and notes that it has violated the obligation to have them work and live properly, " said Syuichi Adachi, a Japanese lawyer, who has long been fighting for the rights of former Chinese laborers.

"The company should pay the plaintiffs due compensation based on such a legal judgement," Adachi said at the press conference.

Among those forced to Japan by Nishimatsu in 1944, 29 laborers died either of torture or on the ship back to China when Japan was defeated in 1945.

In 1998, the five plaintiffs demanded Nishimatsu apologize and pay damages of 5.5 million yen (46,760 U.S. dollars) for each.

The High Court of west Japan's Hiroshima prefecture awarded damages in full to the five plaintiffs in July 2004, marking the first time a Japan high court has ordered the defendant in a series of lawsuits involving forced laborers to pay damages to the plaintiffs.

However, Nishimatsu Co. did not accept the ruling and appealed the Supreme Court for final rulings.

Lawyers for the laborers said the ruling would have negative influences on future compensation lawsuits filed by wartime Chinese victims, as the Chinese civilian's right to claim war reparations from Japan was derived from the top court's decision.

Accompanied by Japanese support groups, the five plaintiffs went to headquarters of the Nishimatsu Co. after the verdict to hand over a letter, demanding the firm to accept the top court's legal recognition, make apologies and compensation and build a memorial for the laborers.

"We will fight to the end," Song Jirao, one of the plaintiffs, said.

Source: Xinhua

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