Subject: [cwj 84] Chinese turn to US courts to sue Japanese over war crimes
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 13:42:53 -0700
Seq: 84

For more info on forced labor and Japanese corporations, see

Wednesday, August 23 7:10 PM SGT 

Chinese turn to US courts to sue Japanese over war crimes

BEIJING, Aug 23 (AFP) - 

Elderly Chinese victims of Japanese World War II aggression said Wednesday
they are suing Japanese companies in American courts
because they have no faith in the legal systems of Japan and China.

Four Chinese Americans and five Chinese nationals sued Japanese
conglomerates Mitsubishi and Mitsui on Tuesday in Los Angeles,
claiming the companies enslaved thousands of Chinese citizens during World
War II.

"I have felt vicimized by these injustices my entire adult life, now I'm
old and I can't wait for justice forever," Hou Shulin, 73, said.

Hou, one of the five Chinese plaintiffs, was kidnapped by the Japanese Army
from his home in northern Hebei province in 1994 and
shipped in a cargo hold to Japan where he was forced to work in a
Mitsui-owned coal mine.

He and other victims of Japanese aggression met journalisits in Beijing and
recounted horrifying stories of mistreatment as well as their
efforts to seek compensation for war crimes.

"If Japan would formally apologize to me, compensate me for the loss of my
father and agree to build memorials to their crimes in
Japan and China, then I wouldn't sue," said Wang Qizhen, whose father was
killed in the Mitsui mine in 

Wang hopes to represent his father, if the Los Angeles County Superior
Court rules that the case should be considered a class action
suit representing all those forced into labor by Mitsui or Mitsubishi.

Over 40,000 Chinese are believed to have been enslaved into Japanese work
camps during the war, with 5,782 documented cases of
workers forced into slavery by Mitsui and some 2,100 by Mitsubishi, Wang
Xuan, a Chinese activist seeking war compensation in a
wide range of cases said.

Wang, along with Chinese lawyer Sun Jing, has been working with American
lawyer Barry Fisher and other US lawyers who brought
the case to trial in Los Angeles.

Some of the lawyers have participated in cases against Swiss banks and
German and Austrian companies for use of slave labor by
Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in settlements totalling
between six and seven billion dollars.

A California law passed in 1999 that allows cases arising out of World War
II slave labor issues to be filed until 2010, has been crucial
in bringing the lawsuit to the US, while courts in Japan and China are too
politically controlled to result in a favorable verdict, Wang

"I helped bring a suit against the Japanese military's 731 biological
warfare unit on behalf of Chongsan village, Zhejiang province in a
Tokyo court in August 1997," Wang said.

"Since then there have been 15 oral proceedings and the case has gone
nowhere, while about 10 percent of the 108 plaintiffs have
already passed away," she said.

Wang said there are at least 10 cases of Chinese war victims seeking
compensation in Tokyo courts, including several cases dealing
with "comfort women" or women forced into sex slavery. 

Few are making any progress.

Most of the cases have been brought to trial by Japanese lawyers who are
part of a grassroots organization called the International
Citizens Forum on War Crimes and War Responsibility. 

The lawyers have done extensive research in China and conducted wide
ranging interviews with war victims.

Chinese courts have yet to accept civil cases suing for compensation over
Japanese war crimes, following a commitment made in
1971 not to seek government-to-government compensation from Japan.

Fisher likened the forced labor operation to the African slave trade of the
17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

"The Japanese during the war, and actually before the war in Asia, were
running the largest slave ship operation in world history since
the African slave trade," he said.

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