November 22, 2002

Solving Disputes in Non-Lawsuit Way Is of Far-reaching Significance

At 9:30 on the morning of July 30, the half-a-year-long "Japan Airlines (JAL) disturbance", about which consumers are very much concerned, has at last satisfactorily resolved. JAL President Mr. Kaneko Isao apologized to the representative of Chinese passengers, to unit serving as mediator, news media as well as various social circles, thanking them for their support in satisfactorily solving this business dispute.

Passengers Proud of Their Own Efforts

Li Hao expressed the mood of joy on behalf of more than 60 Chinese passengers. He said, "I thank Mr. JAL president who has come to China for the matter and is meeting with Chinese passengers here today. Senior JAL leaders personally tackle the case of dispute over service to passengers, from which we have seen their sincerity as well as the good example of a large international company."

He clearly expressed that conciliation is the method for defusing contradictions, that conform to the greatest benefit of both sides as well as the method featuring attention to the future and to development and progress. As Chinese passengers, they are proud of their own actions and efforts. At the same time, they praise the JAL for their courage in solving the problem and correcting shortcomings, they hope that the result can become a successful example for solving contradictions and disputes between China and Japan and that JAL can regain trust and respect from among the Chinese passengers.

Conciliation Agreement Signed Between Both Sides on the Afternoon of July 29

According to Lawyer Wang Xiaobin, plenipotentiary of JAL, it has been 27 years since JAL opened an air route to China, in the first 25 years, there were very few Chinese passengers. The number of Chinese passengers has shot up in the last two years and has now accounted for half of the total, JAL is of the view that the Chinese market has great potential and that they do not want to sustain the impact because of this incident.

On July 29, an executive manager of JAL said seriously in his speech: Please allow me, on behalf of JAL, to express my deep apology to the unfairly treated Chinese passengers boarding on the JL 782 flight for JAL's poor service. JAL has tried its best to achieve a satisfactory conciliation in accordance with the following four principles. First, seeking truth from facts, undertaking our due legal, moral and service responsibilities; second, putting Japan-China friendship in the first place, so that the friendship between the two peoples will not be hurt; third, turning bad thing into good account, through this incident we will serve the passengers actively; and fourth, following the etiquette principle, we have tried hard to satisfactorily solve the dispute. Under the guidance of these principles, we have listened to the numerous opinions voiced by the far-sighed personages in the lawful circle, journalist circle and other social circles, and we have learned quite a lot of things. Through deep self-examination, we have come to realize that this incident was caused by our poor service and our inadequate communication with the passengers, in the future we will draw a lesson, improve our service and strive to become an airlines to be chosen by Chinese passengers.

Mysterious Sum of Money

Although the passengers have obtained the compensation, the amount of which, however, was so mysterious, both sides would not disclose it to the mass media. The responsible member of the Japanese side said: The amount of compensation was determined through consultation with the Chinese passengers, both sides were obliged to keep a secret. Li Hao, the representative of Chinese passengers, also said: "This is the first time to keep compensation a secret, and doing so is beneficial to both sides."

A Review of the Situation

At 13:00 p.m. on January 27 this year, JL 782 flight of JAL took off from Beijing to fly to the United States, Canada, Brazil and some other places. That day there were over 90 Chinese passengers on board the plane, because of heavy snow in Tokyo, the plane landed temporarily at Osaka Airport at 20:00 p.m. on January 27. After alighting from the plane, the passengers were put in a big hall without food to eat and water to drink, the only thing they could do was to lie on the chilly ground. At 3:00 a.m. on January 28, the Japanese side gave each person a piece of bread. At 13 p.m. the same day when the plane arrived in Tokyo, Chinese representatives Li Hao and eight others went to the local office of JAL to complain against this incident. However, half a month had passed, they had not received any reply. JAL contacted the Chinese passengers only after the incident was reported in Chinese domestic media. Some Chinese passengers lodged complaint against JAL's service and made preparation for filing a group suit. Then, with the active mediation and support from various social sectors, the passengers and the JAL conducted repeated communications and consultations, the representative of Chinese passengers and the representative of JAL signed a conciliation agreement on this business dispute that had continued for as long as half a year.

The Significance of the Satisfactory Solution of the Japanese Airline Incident

China Consumers' Association: Setting an Example for Solving Future Overseas Consumption Disputes

It is the view of Yang Shukun, secretary-general of the China Consumers' Association that the solution of this incident is an expression of the enhancement the consumers' understanding of laws and their awareness of self-protection and safeguards of rights, and sets an example for consumers to make representations to managers overseas, to safeguard their rights and interests and solve disputes. At first when the China Consumers' Association determined the nature of the case, it did not regard it as ethnic discrimination, but rather as contradictions between the managers and the consumers, the matter should be approached in accordance with Chinese law on the protection of consumers and with the international convention. JAL's active solution of the matter and compensation made according to law are worthy of commendations. Several lawyers' work also indicates that in solving international business disputes, besides lawsuit, arbitration and other judicial proceedings, solution through reasonable and fair consultation between both sides is also a practical way, and the work by various social circles has initiated an example in popular mediation of international business disputes.

JAL's Lawyer: Expression of the Dignity of Chinese Judicial Sovereignty

The solution of the incident has allowed foreign companies to see the important role of Chinese lawyers. Especially Lawyer Wang Xiaobin, in his work of more than five months, he had actively done his mediation work well, instead of resorting to lawsuit, he turned hostility into friendship, and he was thus given praises. Lawyer Wang firmly believed that the two sides could finally reach a compromise in a sensibly manner. He said, "From the very beginning I had cherished the wish that it was necessary and possible to mediate the dispute. I had conducted satisfactory communication with the litigant, i.e., JAL, they could understand and accept my proposal and formula for handling the matter. I also cooperated with representatives of Chinese passengers in a common effort. Lawyer Wang said emotionally, "I'm researching China's judicial system, I have come to know that our country had lost its judicial sovereignty for a long time in the past. This time as I serve as the plenipotentiary of a foreign company, I have given expression to the sanctity of Chinese judicial sovereignty, this is the glory of Chinese lawyers."

Experts of Law Science: Solving Dispute in Non-lawsuit Manner Brings Win Win

With regard to the solution of the JAL disturbance, Fan Yu, associate professor of the Law Institute of Renmin University of China and law science doctor, analyzing from the angle of law, said, "currently, the most common method for the solution of disputes in the international arena is solving dispute not in a lawsuit way, more than 95 percent of the disputes are solved by this method in the United States. Consultation benefits both society and individuals, it can help save judicial resources, it is the cheapest in cost, quick and convenient for both sides and can gain the "win win" result.

(People's Daily 07/31/2001)

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