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Japanese court dismisses war victims` compensation suit

Posted March. 26, 2001 19:11,   


The Tokyo District Court Monday dismissed a class-action suit filed against the Japanese government by 40 families of Koreans who were forcibly enlisted in the Japanese Army during Japan`s 1910-45 occupation of Korea. The Koreans were mobilized as military workers, soldiers and sex slaves for Japanese troops during the war and suffered abuse at the hands of their captors, the plaintiffs claimed.

In his decision to dismiss the suit, chief judge Shoich Maruyama said that international law does not allow war victims to demand compensation from the countries under which they suffered. The court also rejected some plaintiffs` claims for payment of salaries never received at the time, saying that the 1965 South Korea-Japan agreement and subsequent laws had settled the compensation issue. The plaintiffs plan to appeal to a higher court.

In the suit, about 40 Korean victims and their bereaved families demanded 20 million yen each from the Japanese government. They filed suit in December 1991 on grounds that the compensation matter was settled only between governments and excluded compensation to individuals. The court`s final ruling came nine years and three months after the suit was filed, during which time 33 public hearings were held.

The suit drew considerable media attention inside and outside of the country as it was first initiated by eight Korean ``comfort women`` who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese army, because the existence of unpaid salaries was confirmed for the first time and because Japanese war crimes were cited as legal grounds for compensation.

Shim Kyu-Sun ksshim@donga.com