Subject: [cwj 133] Kajima Corp. pays to settle wartime past with Chinese slaves
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 15:41:44 -0800
Seq: 133

Wednesday, November 29 5:59 PM SGT 

Japanese contractor pays to settle wartime past with Chinese slaves

TOKYO, Nov 29 (AFP) - 

Japanese construction company Kajima Corp. finally agreed to settle its
dark wartime past on Wednesday by paying 500 million yen
(4.6 million dollars) to nearly 1,000 Chinese forced labourers.

In line with a proposal by the Tokyo High Court, the out-of-court
settlement ended a five-year battle, marking the first pay-out from a
Japanese company to compensate forced labourers from China.

"At the closure of the 20th century, today's reconciliation will serve as a
shining bridge to encourage the friendship of Japan and China
into the coming century," said Takashi Niimi, one of the lawyers
representing 11 plaintiffs.

The settlement relates to the treatment of 986 Chinese prisoners at
Kajima's Hanoaka copper mine in Akita, northern Japan, during
World War II.

Kajima will use the money to set up a fund with the Chinese Red Cross
Society which will be extended to cover not just the named
plaintiffs to the action but all the 986 original victims or their
surviving relatives.

While acknowledging the victims' sufferings, however, the construction
giant denied any legal responsibility.

"We had been continuing settlement talks based on the premise that the
company does not owe any legal responsibility," Kajima said in
a statement.

Although there were some reservations about the size of the proposed
settlement, which works out at 4,665 dollars per victim, "we
agreed to it as we fully appreciated the historical significance of the
reconciliation," said Niimi.

The agreement was ground-breaking, the plaintiffs said, given the previous
outright refusal of Japanese companies to demonstrate any
remorse for their wartime behaviour.

"Those who died in Hanaoka must be pleased to see this outcome today," said
Kazue Nakazawa, the 73 year-old widow of Li Kejin,
one of the original plaintiffs who died in March 1996. "The court brought
us a thankful outcome."

"What I feel most strongly at this moment is what all these people,
including my husband, had in mind when they died," Nakazawa
said before bursting into tears.

Kajima, for its part, made a courageous decision, said a Chinese supporter
of the cause.

"The Chinese people are not absolutely satisfied by this outcome," said Lin
Boyao, who heads a Chinese residents' association in Japan.

"But there is hope for the future looking into the 21st century if they
(Japanese companies) reflect on their past and apologise so as not
to repeat their mistake," Lin said.

In one black episode, nearly 1,000 Chinese peasants and prisoners of war
were forced to divert a river next to the Hanaoka mine.

Conditions were so bad, with up to 30 malnourished prisoners dying every
week, that the Chinese slaves rioted on June 30 1945.

Four Japanese soldiers and one Chinese collaborator were killed in what
became known as the "Hanaoka Incident." Although many
prisoners escaped they were later caught, and at least 100 were tortured to
death in reprisal.

Of the original 986 prisoners, 418 died before the end of World War II.

Japanese firms, whose precursor companies were implicated in wartime forced
labour, including Kajima, had always insisted any
compensation claims had been settled in bilateral treaties between the

Some 40,000 Chinese were forcibly taken to Japan between April 1943 and
Japan's defeat in August 1945. Many were sent off to
work in appalling conditions in mines and factories run by Japanese
companies, such as Kajima.

In June 1995, the Hanaoka plaintiffs became the first Chinese war victims
to file a lawsuit in Japan, demanding 60.5 million yen in

Although the Tokyo District Court rejected the suit in December 1997, on
the grounds that the 20-year statute of limitations had
passed, on appeal the Tokyo High Court last September ordered the parties
to attempt to reach an out of court settlement.

In separate cases, three other Japanese companies -- steelmakers Nippon
Steel Corp., and NKK Corp. and bearing manufacturer,
Nachi-Fujikoshi -- have agreed payments to individual South Korean forced
labourers since 1997.

Around 60 compensation claims relating to wartime slavery are still
oustanding against the Japanese government or companies.

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has
not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.  Corporate Watch
in Japanese is making this article available in our efforts to advance
understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic
democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a
'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of
the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for
purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission
from the copyright owner.
Corporate Watch in Japanese
Transnational Resource and Action Center (TRAC)
P.O. Box 29344
San Francisco, CA 94129 USA
Tel: 1-415-561-6472
Fax: 1-415-561-6493
The Corporate Watch in Japanese (CWJ)
mailing list is a moderated email list in English designed to connect
activists campaigning against Japanese corporations and investments around
the world.
To unsubscribe from the CWJ mailing list, send an email to with text "unsubscribe cwj".  To subscribe to the CWJ
mailing list, send a message to with the text
"subscribe cwj"
The CWJ mailing list is NOT intended for wide distribution.  If you would
like to post messages from this list somewhere else, we ask that you first
contact us at

Return to Index
Return to cwj HOME