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Courts Deny Japan-Era Land Claims

Posted February. 27, 2006 03:00,   


All lawsuits filed by the descendents of pro-Japanese collaborators demanding the return of their ancestors` property have been dismissed, according to the Department of Justice yesterday.

The Department of Justice announced on Sunday that High Prosecutors` Offices in each district requested the department reject suits filed by families of pro-Japanese collaborators.

In particular, the Seoul High Prosecutors` Office requested the dismissal of five lawsuits, one appeal, and four appeals trials pending in Suwon District Court, including one filed by a descendent of Lee Keun-ho, the brother of Lee Keun-taek, one of the five traitors who had an influential role in the signing of the Korea-Japan annexation treaty.

The Seoul High Prosecutors` Office asked the Seoul High Court and the Seoul District Court to stop four lawsuits filed by families of Japanese collaborators against the government to recoup their ancestors` properties.

The move is being followed up with a law that empowers the state to retain the property of pro-Japanese collaborators. The Department of Justice launched a commission that will decide whether the properties in question were obtained by pro-Japanese collaborators and whether the assets in question should be retained by the government.

Meanwhile, lawsuits filed by the descendents of Lee Keun-ho against Korea were dismissed.

Lee Keun-yoon, the head judge of the Seoul Western District Court, announced on Sunday that Lee (79), a descendent of Lee Keun-ho, lost his lawsuit demanding Han (63) return 5,300 pyeong of land in Gyeonggi Province that his ancestors had acquired during the era of Japanese colonial rule.

Jin-Kyun Kil leon@donga.com wiseweb@donga.com