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WWII Chinese Forced Laborers Compensated

A Japanese company has agreed to pay 21 million yen (US$189,000) to six Chinese who were forced to work in one of its coalmines during World War II.

Nippon Yakin and the former laborers settled the long-running case outside of court on the recommendation of the Osaka High Court.


The plaintiffs had demanded apologies and compensation totaling about 132 million yen (US$1.2 million) from Nippon Yakin and the Japanese government. The case against the government is still pending.


In January 2003, a lower court in Kyoto acknowledged that Nippon Yakin and the government had broken the law by using forced labor. However, the Kyoto court rejected the plaintiffs demands for compensation, saying that the 20-year statute of limitations had expired.


From 1943 to 1945, nearly 40,000 Chinese were shipped to Japan to work, mostly in mines and ports, and another 2,000 died on the way, according to Ju Zhifen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Another 15 million were forced to work in occupied areas of China, often in mines or armament factories, and constructing railroads.

Thirty-five corporations were involved in the forced labor program in Japan, 21 of which -- including such names as Mitsubishi, Mitsui and Sumitomo Corporation -- are still in operation today.

Japan has never paid monetary reparations to China, although 34 years after the end of the war, in 1979, it began offering funds through the Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. Lawsuits brought by individuals against the government have largely been unsuccessful, either on grounds of statute of limitations expiration or Japans claim that the matter was settled at the intergovernmental level.

Germany has paid extensive reparations since the end of World War II, including more than US$15 billion to Holocaust survivors, whom it will continue to compensate until 2015. The government has also coordinated a US$1.7 billion settlement between companies that used force labor and survivors.


(China.org.cn, CRI.com September 30, 2004)

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