Chinese to sue Japan firm over forced labour during WWII

September 7th, 2010 - 9:17 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Sep 7 (IANS) About 100 labourers in China will file a lawsuit next week against a Japanese company demanding apology and compensation for being forced to work in the firm during World War II, their lawyer said.
Workers from the eastern province of Shandong will sue Mitsubishi Materials Corp and its subsidiaries in China at the Shandong Higher People’s Court before Sep 18, said Fu Qiang, head of Shandong Pengfei Law Office.

Sep 18 this year marks the 79th anniversary of the Japanese invasion of China.

The workers, all aged over 80, will demand Mitsubishi Materials, which they once were forced to work for, apologise and pay each of the workers compensation of 100,000 yuan ($14,730), Fu told Xinhua.

Around 40,000 Chinese, one-fourth of whom were from Shandong, were forced to work in Japan during World War II. Of them, 7,000 died there.

Mitsubishi Materials Corp forcibly took more than 2,700 Chinese to work at nine mines, Fu said, adding that Mitsubishi Materials contracted two mines to other Japanese companies that also used forced Chinese labourers.

Most of Mitsubishi Materials’ Chinese forced labourers were from Weifang, Jinan and Zibo in Shandong, the lawyer said.

Japanese courts have rejected all compensation claims in 15 earlier lawsuits filed by Chinese labourers since 1990s, saying that individual rights of Chinese for war reparations were discarded under the 1972 Japan-China joint statement.

However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said last November that Japan’s actions to force and enslave Chinese during World War II were serious militaristic crimes as well as a realistic and grave human rights issue that has not yet been properly resolved.

Qin urged the Japanese government to take a responsible attitude toward history and properly handle this issue.

Two Japanese companies have agreed, after reconciliation, to offer 378 million yen ($4.5 million) in compensation to forced Chinese workers and their families in April and in October, 2009.

“Lawsuits are not the only choice,” said Fu. “We are also seeking other ways to receive compensation.”

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