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Tokyo Court Rejects War Victims' Appeal

The Tokyo High Court rejected claims for compensation brought by Chinese victims of Japan's World War II atrocities on Tuesday. 

The 10 rebuffed plaintiffs include victims and family members of Japan's Unit 731, which conducted biological warfare experiments, the Nanjing Massacre and firebombing of Yong'an, Fujian Province.


Upholding the ruling of a lower court, the high court's presiding judge Masahito Monguchi stated that under international and civil law, individual war victims do not have a right to seek compensation directly from a warring nation.


In the previous ruling issued in September 1999, the Tokyo District Court, while recognizing the facts of the plaintiffs' claims, also denied their claims for damages.


The plaintiffs have said they will appeal Tuesday's ruling. 



Banging her fists on the arms of her wheelchair, Guo Jinglan, 83, refused to give up her fight. "I'm determined to take care of myself and fight to the end," she said.


Guo and her husband were arrested by Japanese troops in 1941 in northeastern Heilongjiang Province on charges of conducting resistance activities. After interrogation, her husband was sent to Unit 731 and never returned.


"Only by recognizing history can Japan play a role in the international community," said Yoshio Shinozuka, an 81-year-old former member of Unit 731 who testified for the plaintiffs. "I don't know how to apologize. Today, I've never felt so ashamed to be Japanese."


The 10 plaintiffs initially filed the case in 1995, asking the Japanese government to apologize and pay compensation of 20 million yen (US$186,000) each.


Also on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi shrugged off Beijing's complaints about his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals along with other war dead, Kyodo News Service reported on its website.


"Respective countries have respective histories and traditions and have different opinions," Koizumi was reported as saying. "It is necessary to deepen mutual understanding."


On the same day, nationalist lawmakers, headed by a former defense minister, announced plans to visit the Yasukuni Shrine on Friday. A spokesman said the visit had been planned for some time.


Speaking at a meeting on the current tensions between China and Japan, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said that Japan should take "concrete actions" to meet its commitment to face and contemplate its history of aggression.


The foreign minister also encouraged the Chinese public to translate their patriotism into enthusiasm for work and study.


(China Daily, China.org.cn April 20, 2005)

Japan Rejects Compensation for Chinese War Victims
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