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Family of Chinese Forced Laborer Vow to Continue Suit Against Japan

Relatives of a wartime Chinese forced laborer said they were sad and angry about Japanese high court's dismiss of the verdict that required the Japanese government to compensate the plaintiff 20 million yen (US$161,300).  

"I am furious," said 35-year-old Liu Li, the grandson of the laborer Liu Lianren. "I will continue to appeal, not for the money but for what we should deserve."


The Lius could have won the first-ever lawsuit to demand the Japanese government compensate for forcing Chinese laborers to work and live under harsh conditions in World War II. But the High Court on Thursday overruled the first verdict on the ground that the two governments did not have agreement on state compensation in the 1940s.


Liu, who died at the age of 87 in 2000, was forced to work at a mine on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido in 1944 after Japan's Imperial Army took him from his home in east China's Shandong Province.


Liu escaped in April 1945 and went hiding in remote mountains on Hokkaido for the next 13 years. He didn't know the war had ended and was found by a Japanese hunter in 1958.


He lodged the suit against Japanese government in 1995. His son Liu Huanxin took over the case when senior Liu died at home five years ago. In 2001, the Tokyo District Court ruled that the government should compensate but only eleven days later the Justice Ministry filed the appeal.


Liu Huanxin went to Japan on June 11 to hear the second verdict. "We never thought we would lose," said Liu Li at his home in Gaomi in eastern Shandong. "If my father can't win the case in his life, I will definitely continue, until the Japanese government apologizes and finally compensates us."


"I can't believe this ruling; It is so hard to swallow this disgrace," said 87-year-old Zhao Yulan, senior Liu's wife. The white-haired woman sighed and looked numb in the courtyard of her home. We suffered so much from the Japanese but the country just wanted to ignore all of that.


She said the Japanese soldiers took her husband away only two years after they were married and she then waited him for 15 years who came back as a cave man. Zhao said the last words of Liu were to ask the son and the grandson to continue the suit.


More than 50,000 Chinese were forced to work in Japan during World War II, and about 6,800 of the laborers died under harsh working conditions. According to Liu Huanxin, in Shandong alone, 8,859 were forced labor in Japan, and only 51 were still alive.


Many of the Chinese laborers have filed the lawsuit for compensation, but analysts said the second verdict of Liu's case could dampen their hopes.


Liu and his lawyers have decided to file the appeal soon.


(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2005)

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