Nineteen Chinese people who were forced into slave labor in Japan during World War II will lodge a lawsuit in Fukuoka District Court in Japan Friday, demanding apologies and compensation from the Japanese Government and businesses.
Lawyer Kang Jian, who represents the 19 plaintiffs, flew to Japan Thursday. "The court is expected to accept the case immediately," she said before departing Beijing.
The Chinese plaintiffs, who are already in their 70s and 80s, are mostly natives of North China's Hebei Province. They were forcibly taken to Japan from China in 1944 and made to work at a mine in southern Japan's Fukuoka.
They were treated very poorly by the company and were unable to return home until 1945, when Japan lost the war.
In their fight for justice, the survivors, who are now scattered across the country, gathered together and have prepared a lawsuit against the Japanese Government, Mitsui Mining and Mitsubishi Corporation.
Cui Shujing, 79, a native of Wen'an County in Hebei Province, still has a certificate of storage as evidence of the crime.
Kang said: "The company issued the certificate to the laborers, saying it would keep their wages for them. But in fact, except for a useless booklet, the Chinese laborers never got anything."
Cui said he could still draw maps of the mine, where he suffered inhumane treatment.
Fellow plaintiff Li Chunhe, 78, also presented his certificate of labor, which he kept for years.
Kang said: "With this strong evidence, I hope the Japanese court can make a just ruling and face the facts of history." Some Japanese courts have already rejected demands for compensation made in other Chinese labor cases, insisting on a 20-year time limit for filing claims.
About 40,000 Chinese laborers were forced to work in 135 workplaces for 35 corporations in Japan during World War II. Many of the laborers never made it back to China.
Twenty-one of the 35 corporation implicated in the crimes, including Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsui Corporation and Sumintomo Corporation, are still in operation.
(China Daily February 28, 2003)