Subject: [cwj 56] Koreans granted redress for wartime forced labor
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000 17:50:40 -0700
Seq: 56

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Koreans granted redress for wartime forced labor 
July 12, 2000

 A Japanese machine-toolmaker has reached a settlement with three
 South Koreans who served as forced laborers during World War
 II based on recommendations handed down by the Supreme
 Court, company sources said Tuesday.

 Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp., based in Toyama on the Sea of Japan
 coast, reached a compromise Tuesday with the three plaintiffs at
 the top court in Tokyo to settle a lawsuit filed by the South
 Koreans in September 1992, the sources said.

 The plaintiffs are two women -- Lee Jong Suk, 68, and Choi Bong
 Nyon, 69 -- and one man, Ko Dok Hwan, 77.

 It is the first time that a compromise of this kind has been made at
 the Supreme Court. It is the third such settlement, following a
 compromise between Japan Steel Corp. and former Korean
 workers recruited during World War II.

 About 60 lawsuits seeking compensation payments for forced
 labor during the war are being heard throughout the country.

 The three Koreans testified that they were forced into hard labor at
 the company's munitions factory in Toyama during the closing
 days of World War II after being recruited between 1943 and
 1944 from the Korean Peninsula, then under Japanese colonial

 Kensuke Imura, president of Nachi-Fujikoshi, said at a news
 conference in Toyama that the company will pay the Koreans
 "settlement money," but he did not specify the amount. The
 plaintiffs had sought a total of 20 million yen in damages, 5,200
 yen in unpaid wages and a public apology.

 Imura also said the company still believes the Koreans' claims that
 they were not paid for their years of labor is untrue.

 "Our position -- that there is no such fact their wages were not
 paid -- hasn't changed," he said. "However, we have decided (to
 pay them) so we can get past this unhappy event of the 20th
 century and can positively enter a new era."

 Asked whether the company plans to offer the plaintiffs an
 apology, Imura said, "There will be no apology. We never forced
 them to come to Japan."

 He also said, "It is wrong to apply modern sensibilities when
 discussing wartime events."

 The plaintiffs said that during the war they were told they would
 be able to earn decent wages at the company and also attend
 school, but the company never allowed them to study and sent
 them home without pay shortly before Japan surrendered in
 August 1945.

 In December 1998, the Nagoya High Court's Kanazawa branch
 upheld a lower court rejection of a demand by the Koreans that
 Nachi-Fujikoshi pay them for damages and unpaid wages.

 The high court dismissed the plaintiffs' appeal, upholding the
 Toyama District Court's ruling in July 1996 that turned down their
 demand by citing the statute of limitations.

 Nachi-Fujikoshi, established in 1928, is listed on the First Section
 of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

 According to the company, it had approximately 1,500 Korean
 workers, mostly girls and women, immediately before the end of
 the war.

 The Japan Times: July 12, 2000
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