A Beijing court has for the first time agreed to hear a lawsuit by Chinese citizens demanding compensation from Japanese firms for World War II forced labor, their lawyer said, a move Japan termed “seriously” worrying.
Kang Jian (康健), an attorney for the plaintiffs, on Tuesday confirmed the decision by the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, which follows several failed efforts to bring such cases in both China and Japan.
The move comes in defiance of Tokyo, which argues such cases are barred by international agreement, and with relations between the Asian giants at their lowest point in decades.
Tokyo’s top spokesman yesterday reiterated the country’s apology for forced labor and said the case could worsen ties further.
“We received a notice from the court that the case has been accepted,” Kang said.
“Based on the evidence and the facts at hand, there’s no reason they shouldn’t rule that the companies are responsible,” she added.
Two survivors and 35 people whose relatives were forced laborers filed the suit late last month against Mitsubishi Materials Corp and Nippon Coke & Engineering Co, formerly known as Mitsui Mining.
Kang said yesterday that an additional three relatives had joined the suit, raising the total number of plaintiffs to 40. The laborers and their relatives are demanding 1 million yuan (US$161,000) in compensation for each worker, as well as apologies printed in Chinese and Japanese newspapers.
Tens of thousands of Chinese were forcibly sent to Japan to work in factories and mines to fill a manpower breach arising from Japan’s massive World War II military mobilization.
Japanese courts have rejected numerous similar cases filed there over the years, with the country’s Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that individual Chinese cannot demand compensation from Japan. It said China gave up its right to make such claims when the countries normalized relations more than four decades ago.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday expressed remorse over forced labor, but said that a 1972 joint communique nullified Chinese rights to demand war-related compensation.
“Regarding the forced recruitment and labor of Chinese people, the government cannot deny that many people fell into unfortunate situations in those days,” Suga told reporters. “We think it was extremely regrettable that [Japan] caused unbearable suffering and sorrow for many people, even though it was in the abnormal situation of war.”
However, the court case raised troubling questions, he said.
“We cannot help worrying seriously about the possible impact on the war settlement between Japan and China and bilateral economic relations as it could trigger similar cases in China,” Suga said.
The Beijing court’s acceptance of the case follows a separate lawsuit filed against both companies as well as the Japanese government earlier this month in Hebei Province.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including