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Mitsubishi to compensate Chinese wartime laborers, ignores Korean victims

Mitsubishi to compensate Chinese wartime laborers, ignores Korean victims

Posted July. 25, 2015 07:10,   


Japan`s Mitsubishi Materials Corp. has agreed Friday to apologize and compensate Chinese victims and their bereaved families for its use of forced labor during World War II. The move, which came after the company`s apology last week for captured U.S. soldiers as slave laborers, is aimed at improving its overseas business environment and advance to the Chinese market. Mitsubishi is expected to continue its series of apologies and compensations. However, the Japanese government and Mitsubishi are under criticism for double standards, as they are still ignoring Korean victims of wartime forced labor.

According to Japanese media reports, Mitsubishi made a reconciliation proposal over a damages lawsuit filed by Chinese forced laborers with a Chinese court. The company proposed to admit its historical responsibility as the employer, express a sincere self-reflection and apology, pay about 16,000 U.S. dollars to each victim, donate 100 million yen (806,519 dollars) for building a monument, raise 200 million yen (1.6 million dollars) for investigation of missing victims, and pay about 2,000 dollars to the victims to invite them to a memorial ceremony.

It marks the first time for a Japanese company to agree to compensate Chinese forced laborers over its wartime atrocities. The number of people eligible for the compensation will also likely be the largest ever. Both sides plan to sign an agreement in Beijing soon.

Japan mobilized some 39,000 Chinese people for forced labor during World War II. Among them, 3,765 people worked at coal mines run by Mitsubishi. About 1,500 of them or their bereaved families have been identified. The Japanese company plans to spent 200 million yen (1.6 million dollars) looking for the rest of the victims.

Some analysts say that the latest agreement, albeit not a result of inter-governmental negotiations, is aimed at creating a favorable atmosphere ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s planned statement next month marking the 70th of the war`s end. In addition, as the agreement has become a catalyst for improved ties between Beijing and Tokyo, a China-Japan summit has become more likely.

Mitsubishi also plans to offer apologies to prisoners of war from Britain, the Netherlands and Australia. Regarding Korean victims of forced labor, however, it is reiterating its argument that they are under a different legal situation. Asked over the Dong-A Ilbo`s telephone inquiry about the issue, a Mitsubishi spokesman said he was "not at the position to talk about it." A diplomatic source in Japan said that Mitsubishi was initially willing to seek reconciliation with Korean victims. However, it faced objection from the Japanese government, which was concerning that doing so would undermine the postwar settlement based on a 1965 Korea-Japan agreement.