Thursday, September 30, 2004

Chinese slave labourers win settlement from Japanese company

The workers were abducted from Henan Province during the Japanese occupation of China. The company, Tokyo-based Nippon Yakin Kogyo Co., forced 200 people to work at their nickel factory, in Kyoto prefecture. 12 died from lack of proper care:
they were forced to work 14-hour days and were beaten if they did not meet their quotas.

Slave laborers there received no wages and were given measly food and only thin blankets, even in winter, according to their claims.
(All quotes from this Japan Times article.)

The company has not apologised but it has now agreed to pay out 21 million yen (only about 158 thousand euros) following a court case brought by "Liu Zonggen, 72, three other former laborers and the family of two deceased men [who] filed the suit in 1998, seeking a total 130 million yen in compensation and an apology from both the [Japanese] government and Nippon Yakin Kogyo."
The Kyoto District Court ruled in January 2003 that the government and Nippon Yakin Kogyo had acted illegally in abducting the plaintiffs to Japan and putting them to work as slave laborers.

But the court rejected the plaintiffs' demand for compensation, saying their right to claim compensation had expired under a 20-year statute of limitations. The plaintiffs appealed the ruling.
In December, the high court recommended a settlement among the three parties. The government refused to enter settlement talks.

What a surprise! Still, it's nice to have some good news.
Supporters of the plaintiffs said they hope the settlement will have a positive influence on other pending legal battles over the responsibility of Japan and Japanese companies over wartime slave labor.
Wednesday's settlement was the second case involving a Japanese company and wartime slave laborers from China. In 2000, major construction firm Kajima Corp. settled its dispute with Chinese people taken to a mine in Akita Prefecture for slave labor during World War II by contributing 500 million yen to a relief fund for the victims.

No comments: