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The Japanese government completed reparation to the Allied countries and related countries on a state level through the San Francisco Peace Treaty and bilateral agreements, except for North Korea (and Taiwan). After the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, aging war victims started to request the Japanese government and/or Japanese companies for compensation and a formal apology. More than 60 cases have been brought before Japanese courts by Korean and Taiwanese soldiers and army/naval civilian employees, Korean and Chinese forced laborers, comfort women, POWs and survivors of Nanking Incident and Unit 731.
Plaintiffs and supporters request the government to apologize formally, compensate both living victims and surviving families, support social welfare of elderly war victims, provide the education regarding war crimes, and build memorial museums and monuments in Japan and in the countries it attacked. The plaintiffs argue for the application of Article 3 of the 1907 Hague Land War Convention, which guarantees individuals’ rights to damages. However, the courts only recognize rights to damage compensation by nations, not by individuals. The courts usually dismiss plaintiffs’ requests because 1) the compensation for former Korean and Taiwanese soldiers, army/naval civilian employees and comfort women should be decided by the legislature, not the courts; 2) the requests for unpaid payment and damage compensation for Korean and Chinese forced laborers and comfort women have been already annulled by the prescription; 3) the compensation for former prisoners of war and detainees was settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty; 4) the requests for compensation of damages arising from the war were annulled by the “state immunity” under the Meiji Constitution (1889-1946); and 5) Article 724 of the Civil Law annuls petitions for compensation caused by illegal actions in twenty years after those actions.
On the other hand, the plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that the prescription does not apply to violations of international laws and that individual victims can request for compensation under the international law, yus cogens, even after the governments of the plaintiffs decided upon the reparation for individuals, because the treaty renouncing the individual rights for reparation/compensation implicitly renounces their human rights, in violation of international law, yus cogens (Nihon 1993:10).
Concerning the rights of individuals to request for their war compensation, the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, the 1956 Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration and the 1965 Japan-South Korea Agreement on Claims dismiss claims by a “country and its people.” However, the Protocol to Japan’s Peace Treaty with Taiwan and the 1972 China-Japan Joint Statement dismiss claims only by “countries.”
Regarding the individual requests by Koreans, the Japanese government argues that 1) all outstanding reparation and compensation problems with South Korea were settled by the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty; 2) individual Koreans cannot seek compensation because there is no applicable Japanese law; 3) the Diet decides whether or not to enact a law for compensation; and 4) the 1947 State Compensation Law cannot be applied to the action of a country during and before the war (Shimano and Okada 2002:26). Concerning the individual rights to request compensation by Korean individuals, Section Chiefs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in 1991 and 1992 that the 1965 Japan-South Korea Agreement covered the nation’s estate and request rights, but that the individual rights to request for compensation are covered by the national laws (Utsumi 2002:61-62).
Concerning the individual rights to request compensation by Chinese individuals, in 1995, China stated that China did not renounce the rights of private citizens to request for reparation and compensation from Japan (Kasahara 1999:94-95).
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The Japanese government has paid pensions and offered special assistance to Japanese military personnel, wounded soldiers, and their survivors, in addition to paying for medical care and offering allowances for atomic bomb victims. However, the nearly ten million air bomb victims did not receive any compensation at all (Tanaka et al. 1995:96-97). Furthermore, the government did not pay any compensation for people who had been detained in Siberia. In a 1997 Supreme Court decision, the National Conference of Detainees for the Request of Compensation, established in 1977, lost its petition for compensation on behalf of former Siberian detainees.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Japanese death toll resulting from World War II amounted to 3.1 million, including 2.3 million soldiers and army/naval civilian employees, 500,000 Japanese civilians in Japan, and 300,000 Japanese civilians living outside of Japan (Fujiwara 2001:3). After the war, more than 6.2 million soldiers and army/naval civilian workers from China, Manchuria, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Okinawa, Soviet Union, the Kurile Islands, Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Philippines came back to Japan (Kimoto 1994:284-285). Veterans also struggled to survive in their ravaged hometowns or their villages in the turmoil without any type of government assistance. According to the order from the GHQ, the Japanese government suspended pensions and benefits for military personnel in 1946; only wounded soldiers received small pensions. The 1923 Public Servants’ Pension Law, the 1942 Law for the Protection of War Victims, and the 1937 Support Law for Injured Soldiers were abolished in 1946 (Hagino 1996:228; Tanaka et al. 1995:83-87; Utsumi 2002:43).
Two days after the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect in 1952, the Law for the Relief of War Victims and Survivors was enacted on behalf of injured soldiers and their survivors. Under this law, former military personnel, army/naval civilian employees, paramilitary personnel and their surviving families received pensions. The Association of Bereaved Families was established in 1953. In 1953, the Public Servants’ Pension Law (1923-1946) was revived, and paid veterans’ pensions. The amount of pensions was based on veteran’s rank and length of service. Executed war criminals were included as beneficiaries in 1954, and the prison terms of convicted war criminals was counted towards their service in 1955. The 1953 Law for the Families of Unreturned Soldiers provided benefits to these families, including war criminals detained overseas. The 1957 Law for the Allowance for Returned Soldiers provides allowance for those soldiers or their families with 10-year national bonds of 55 billion yen for 3.4 million cases; additional treatments were provided by the 1967 law.
The 1956 Law for Special Pension Toward the Bereaved Families provided pensions and public aids for the families of the fallen soldiers in Japan, Manchurian, Korea, Taiwan, and Sakhalin. In its revisions, pensions were also provided for the disabled and the bereaved families of subcontracted army/naval civilian employees. Because of lobbying efforts, nurses of the Japanese Red Cross became eligible for benefits. In 1957, the bereaved families of war participants and mass suicide are eligible for pensions (Tanaka et al. 1995:90-109).
As of 1998, compensation for war victims totaled nearly 44 trillion yen including 36 trillion yen in military pensions, 5 trillion yen in pensions for bereaved families from 1952 to 1998, almost 129 billion yen in medical care for injured soldiers from 1960 to 1998, 2.4 trillion yen in medical care for atomic bomb victims from 1960 to 1998, and 174 billion yen in miscellaneous payments (Okada 2002a:108).
In 2001 the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare started to compensate civilians who worked in military poison gas factories in Hiroshima, Kitakyushu and Kanagawa. About 2,700 civilians have received some medical examinations. Those who have bronchial problems are entitled to a medical allowance of 34,000 yen a month. If their wartime employment in the poison gas factory is proven to be the cause of their illness, they will be paid 140,000 yen a month. In Hiroshima, 6,700 people worked in the poison gas factory. After the war, many of these workers reported medical problems (AS February 20, 2000).
The government of the colony of Taiwan recruited Taiwanese into the Volunteer Army from 1942. As Japanese casualties mounted, conscription was introduced in January 1945. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 80,433 Taiwanese soldiers and 126,750 army/naval civilian employees participated in the war; 30,000 died (2.7% of soldiers and 22.2% of army/naval civilian employees) (Utsumi 2002:38).
In 1974, a Taiwanese aborigine, Sunion (Nakamura Teruo by Japanese name) was discovered in Morotai Islands, Indonesia. A veteran of the Pacific War, he received less than 70,000 yen as his unpaid salaries from Japan and was sent back to Taiwan (Utsumi 2002:36). His case served as a reminder to former Taiwanese soldiers and their families that they had not received any pensions or compensation from Japan, and spurred them to organize.
In 1977, thirteen Taiwanese former soldiers of the Japanese army and their families filed a suit against the Japanese government, demanding that the war dead and wounded soldiers be granted the same right as their Japanese counterparts to claim compensation; each plaintiff asked 5 million yen. In 1982 the Tokyo District Court dismissed the case, saying that the issue of non-Japanese casualties should be resolved by negotiations between Japan and Taiwan. Three years, later, the Tokyo High Court in 1985 also dismissed the case, recommending that the Japanese government find a legal solution to compensate them. Responding to this comment, the Japanese government enacted the 1986 and 1987 laws that pay “condolence money” of 2-million yen to each Taiwanese killed or wounded in the war through the Red Cross Societies of Japan and Taiwan. In 1992, the Supreme Court was the third to dismiss the case, saying that the problem of compensation was a legislative matter, not a legal one. The “condolence money” has been provided to 28,000 Taiwanese killed or wounded and their families (Takagi 2001:115-117).
The 1977 lawsuit requesting the payment of the postal savings of former military personnel and army/naval civilian employees was dismissed by the Tokyo District Court (1977), the Tokyo High Court (1978) and the Supreme Court (1982). However, the 1980 lawsuit requesting the payment of the saving bonds was recognized by the Tokyo District Court (1980) and the Tokyo High Court (1984). The 1980 lawsuit requesting the payment of military currency was dismissed by the Tokyo District Court (1980), and the Tokyo High Court (1982). In 1995, the Japanese government decided to pay military postal savings and unpaid salaries for Taiwanese soldiers and army/naval civilian employees. For five years from 1995 to 2000, Taiwanese war veterans would receive the payment of military postal savings and their unpaid salaries. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Japanese government had settled 38,727 cases of the 84,000 cases by July 1999 (Utsumi 2002:36).
Moreover, in 1997 the lawsuit requesting payment of unpaid pensions for Taiwanese teachers and their families was brought to the Tokyo District Court. In 1998, the lawsuit requesting compensation for Taiwanese B/C class war criminals was brought to the Miyazaki District Court, which dismissed it in 2001. In 1999, nine Taiwanese comfort women brought a lawsuit to the Tokyo District Court demanding a formal apology and 10 million yen each (Okada 2002b;147-159; Utsumi 2002).
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After the Sino-Japanese War began, Koreans joined in the Japanese military under the 1938 Recruit of Volunteer Korean Army Soldiers, the 1943 Recruit of Volunteer Korean Navy Soldiers, and the 1944 conscription policy. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, at least 242,341 Korean soldiers and army/naval civilian employees fought in the war; 22,182 died.
In the B-class and C-class war crimes courts, 148 Koreans, including 126 inspectors of POWs and three soldiers stood trial, and among them, 23, including 14 inspectors of Allied POWs were executed. Convicted Korean war criminals were sent to Tokyo’s Sugamo Prison, but many of them were released when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect in 1952. The Japanese government gave 10,000 yen to families of executed Korean war criminals, and provided released Korean war criminals with housing assistance and living expenses. After the San Francisco Peace Treaty, Koreans lost their Japanese citizenship. Their nationality prevented Korean veterans from taking advantage of the 1952 Law for the Relief for the War Injured and Diseased, and for War Bereaved Families and Others (Takagi 2001:83; Tanaka et al. 1995:119, 125).
Since the 1990s, wounded Korean veterans, and the survivors of executed Korean B/C class war criminals brought lawsuits requesting compensation and a formal apology from the Japanese government. The Japanese government insists that the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty and Agreement completely settled the reparations and compensation with South Korea. The courts dismissed every claim, though some suggested the legislation to provide compensation. The courts asked the Japanese government to make provision for compensation of Korean residents of Japan who had been denied compensation from the Korean government. In 2000, a law was enacted to compensate the survivors and the families of killed or wounded Korean or Taiwanese soldiers and army/naval civilian employees living in Japan.
In 1990, twenty-two Korean veterans representing themselves sued the Japanese government for an apology and compensation in the Tokyo District Court. This suit joined the 1991 compensation suit by Korean victims of the Asian Pacific War, which was dismissed in 2001. The Tokyo High Court also dismissed the case in 2003, because the right to request compensation had already lapsed under the terms of several agreements, including the 1965 Japan-South Korea Agreement (AS July 23, 2003).
In November 1991, seven former B/C class war criminals and their families led by Mun T’ae-book of the Association of Korean War Criminals sued the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court. They requested an apology, 5,000 yen for each day of incarceration, and 50 million yen for B/C class war criminals who had been sentenced to death. The Association for Korean B/C Class War Crime Criminals and their Families had been founded in 1955 to negotiate with the Japanese government over the return of remains, and the requests for their social welfare benefits; however, the Japanese government insisted that all compensation issues had been solved by the 1965 Japan-South Korea Agreement. Mun T’ae-book who died a year before the 1999 verdict had been responsible for guarding POWs. After the war, his death sentence had been commuted to ten years’ imprisonment. In 1996, the Tokyo District Court dismissed the suit.
In its appeal to the Tokyo High Court, the plaintiffs changed the amount of compensation to 2 million yen per person. In 1998, the Court dismissed the case; however, it suggested that an appropriate legal solution was necessary because the Korean veterans had been treated unfairly in comparison to their Japanese and Taiwanese counterparts. In 1999, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Tokyo High Court and proposed that the legislature take the problem under consideration (Utsumi 2001:215-216).
In August 1992, former Korean soldiers, civilian employees and their families living in City Gwangju and its vicinity sued the Japanese government for a formal apology and compensation in the amount of 30 million yen for survivors and 50 million yen for surviving families in the Tokyo District Court. They insisted that forced conscription of Korean soldiers and army/naval civilian employees by the Japanese government has been unconstitutional. The Tokyo District Court in 1998 and the Tokyo High Court in 1999 dismissed their claims. The high court judge ruled that Japan had no obligation to compensate or apologize to individual war victims of the colonized country (AS December 21, 1999).
In November 1992, Kim son-suk, who had lost his right arm in the war, sued the Japanese government, insisting that denying him a wounded soldier’s pension because of his nationality was unconstitutional. His claim, and the demand for 240 million yen of compensation were denied three times: by the Tokyo District Court in 1998, the Tokyo High Court in 2000 and the Supreme Court in 2001. The Supreme Court ruled that the nationality requirement for pensions is not unconstitutional and that it is a legislative concern (Mainichi Shinbun November 16, 2001; AS April 28, 2000).
In 1995, eight former Korean B/C class war criminals and their families sued in the Tokyo District Court to request 50 million yen compensation for the survivors of an executed Korean B/C class criminal and 5 million yen to each of the other seven plaintiffs; the case was dismissed in 1999 (Okada 2002b:150). Furthermore, in January 1992, a former Korean soldier, Lee Chang-seok, living in Japan, who had been detained in Siberia after the war, sued the Japanese government at the Kyoto District Court to recognize his pension status and pay 10 million yen in compensation. The court dismissed his case in March 1998. No Japanese detainees in Siberia have received any compensation from the government. He appealed to the Osaka High Court, which dismissed the case in February 2000 (Okada 2002b:148).
Moreover, wounded Korean war veterans in Japan have also sued for compensation. In January 1991, Chong San-gun filed a suit against the Japanese government, requesting the recognition of his right to apply for compensation under the 1952 Law for the Relief of War Victims and Survivors, and 10 million yen in compensation. Had he been a Japanese citizen, he could have received 3.5 million yen per year, and therefore, he requested 3.5 million yen a year for 38 years. The suit was dismissed by the Osaka District Court in 1995, the Osaka High Court in 1999, and the Supreme Court in 2001. In August 1992, two other wounded Korean former civilian employees living in Japan, Chin Sogil and Sok Songi sued the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court to recognize their eligibilities for compensation for wounded soldiers and civilian employees. The suit was dismissed by the Tokyo District Court in 1992, the Tokyo High Court in 1998, and the Supreme Court in 2001. In 1993, Kang Pushun, a former wounded Korean civilian employee sued the Japanese government in the Otsu District Court for benefits under the Law for the Relief and compensation (Tanaka et al. 1995:96; Takagi 2001:92-95).
Every request for compensation for Korean war dead and wounded soldiers has been dismissed, because the courts see it as a legislative rather than a legal matter. Some judges suggested that the Japanese government should pass laws to compensate former Korean soldiers and civilian employees living in Japan that had been denied compensation under the 1965 Japan-South Korea Agreement. The 1999 Osaka High Court, ruling in Kang’s case mentioned that the nationality and registry clauses in the Law for the Relief might be illegal under the Constitution or the Human Rights Covenant B (AS October 16, 1999). In April 2001, the Supreme Court dismissed three lawsuits (the 1991 Chong San-gun suit, the 1992 Sok Songi and Chin Sogil suit, and the 1993 Kang Pushun suit) concerning compensation for wounded Korean soldiers living in Japan. The Supreme Court recognized the constitutionality of the Law for the Relief that requires Japanese nationality for eligibility (AS April 4, 2001; AS April 13, 2001).
Finally in 2000, the Law for Former Japanese Soldiers and Army/Naval Civilian Employees of Koreans or Taiwanese living in Japan was enacted. The Japanese government has provided 2.6 million yen as “gift money” for survivors and 4 million yen as gifts and support money for wounded soldiers living in Japan, who had been denied compensation by the South Korean government after the 1965 Agreement. Even the lowest-ranking Japanese veterans, if injured in the war, can receive between 1.69 million and 10 million yen a year, depending on the severity of injury. Since the introduction of the 1953 system, the amount of compensation ranged from 48 million yen to 134 million yen per person (Mainichi Shinbun June 1, 2000).
The suits by Korean former soldiers, army/naval civilian employees and their families continue. In 2001, 252 Korean former soldiers, army/naval civilian employees and their families, living in South Korea and the U.S., sued the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court, asking 2.4 billion yen in compensation, unpaid wages, military postal savings, and the return of the war remains. Fifty-five plaintiffs asked the Japanese government to return the remains of their relatives from Yasukuni Shrine, insisting that the Japanese government had enshrined them as “Japanese spirits of fallen soldiers” without their consent. The number of Taiwanese and Koreans enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine amounted to 27,863 Taiwanese and 21,181 Koreans, including 23 Koreans and 26 Taiwanese who were executed in B/C class war criminal courts (Tanaka 2002:219-227; Utsumi 2002:60; AS June 30, 2001).
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As the war in China intensified, the National Mobilization Law was passed in 1938 to supplement the labor force. In 1939, the law was extended to Koreans in Korea. Korean officials were charged with finding Korean workers. In 1944, Koreans in Korea were subject to labor conscription. In 1944 to 1945, the draft brought 280,000 workers to Japan (Weiner 1994:194). According to official records, about 725,000 Korean laborers were sent to Japan from 1939, another 16,000 went to Sakhalin, and 6,000 to the South (Utsumi 2002:64).
Many Koreans were assigned to Japan’s mining industries, construction sites, and factories after the obligatory draft of laborers of 1944. The number of Koreans in Japan rose from 1,241,315 Koreans in 1940 (Hatano et al. 2000:49) to 1,936,843 in December 1944 (Morita 1996:71). After 1943, Koreans in Japan became subject to labor conscription. Many Korean workers were deployed to the dangerous coal mines, where many miners were killed. More than one third (36%) of Koreans employed in the mining industry deserted between 1939 and 1942. Those who were caught were beaten, tortured, or killed (Weiner 1994:201). By July 1945, the workforces of coal mining industry consisted of 60 percent Japanese, 30 percent Koreans, 2.6 percent POWs, 2.4 percent of Chinese and 4.8 percent of temporary workers (Koshō et al. 2000:127).
After the end of World War II, more than half of the nearly 2 million Koreans living in Japan at the end of 1944 returned to Korea, and at the end of 1945, there 980,635 Koreans were still living in Japan (Morita 1996:103). The 1947 Alien Registration Ordinance considered Koreans in Japan, to be aliens, even though they still had a “Japanese nationality” until 1952 (Zainihon 1997:7).
The vast majority of Koreans who returned to their liberated homeland immediately after World War II had been sent to Japan through the labor conscription, and had no economic ties there. Right after the end of the war, the Japanese government notified the companies that had used Korean labor that they should save the unpaid wages, and promise to return them in the future. In 1946 the government asked companies to deposit those unpaid wages and savings, but did not notify all of the Korean workers who had returned in Korea. Their workers’ demands for unpaid wages lapsed ten years later because of prescription. The Japanese government held that their request was nullified because of the conclusion of the prescription, as were their request rights to the Japanese government because Law 144, a national law pertaining to the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty and Agreement.
From the 1990s, former Korean forced workers have sued Japanese companies and the Japanese government for their unpaid wages and compensations. They argue that the conclusion of prescription or the state immunity of the acts of a country at war guaranteed by the Meiji Imperial Constitution cannot be applied to their claims, and that the individual rights to make claims for compensation against other countries have already been recognized under international customs laws.
Among these cases, three cases of Nihon Seitetsu (now Sin-Nittetsu/Nippon Steel Corp.), the Nihon Kōkan (now NKK/Japanese Steel NKK Corp.) and Fujikoshi Sozai (Fujikoshi Corp.) have been settled out of court. Japanese companies paid compensation to their former laborers without admitting legal liability or granting an apology. It seems that companies, worried about public relations, would rather conclude the lawsuits quickly by paying the plaintiffs. Japanese companies desired to settle these cases before some plaintiffs took their case to American courts and tarnished the reputation of Japanese companies in public opinion.
The case against Nippon Steel Corp. is the first lawsuit in which the company paid “consolidation” money to plaintiffs in an out-of-control settlement. In 1995, eleven relatives of deceased Korean workers sued Nippon Steel Corp. and the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court, requesting the return of their remains, unpaid wages, an apology and compensation. Nihon Seitetsu had brought more than 8,500 Koreans from Korea, including 1,700 employed by Kamaishi iron works. Nihon Seitetsu documents confirmed that the unpaid salaries of plaintiffs were deposited and never returned. In 1997, Nippon Steel Corp. settled the suit, acknowledged the deaths by aerial bombardment or labor accidents. Nippon Steel Corp. paid 2 million yen as “consolidation” money to each of the ten plaintiffs who did not receive their family member’s remains, and paid 50,000 yen to one plaintiff who took his family member’s remains. The plaintiffs removed Nippon Steel Corp. from the list of defendants, and continued their legal battle against the Japanese government (Ooguchi 1998:8-12).
In another case against Nippon Steel Corp., the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal brought by two Korean men who worked in the Osaka iron works of Nippon Steel Corp. during the war. They sued Nippon Steel Corp. for an apology and about 38 million yen for unpaid wages and consolation money. The Osaka High Court recognized their status as illegal forced labor but rejected their requests because the 1965 Japan-South Korean Treaty resolved the matter of the war compensation and the Japanese government had no obligation to compensate individuals for actions preceding the 1947 National Compensation Law (AS October 10, 2003).
Japanese Steel NKK Corp. also settled outside of the court. In 1991 Kim Kyung Suk sued Japanese Steel NKK Corp. in the Tokyo District Court for 10 million yen in compensation and an apology because he had sustained a permanent injury to his right arm while leading a 1943 strike when he worked for the company during the war. In 1997, the Tokyo District Court rejected his request because the statute of limitations had expired. Japanese Steel NKK Corp. sought for a settlement, and in 1999, Japanese Steel NKK Corp. agreed upon a 4 million yen payment from Japanese Steel NKK Corp. (AS April 7, 1999).
The Fujikoshi Corp. case was also settled outside of the court. In 1992, three wartime workers sued Fujikoshi Corp. in the Toyama District Court, requesting 24 million yen in unpaid wages and compensation for wartime forced labor and for the violation of their human rights and of Japanese law. In 1944, 1,089 women and 535 men respectively belonged to Fujikoshi Corp.’s Women’s and Men’s Volunteer Corps. Two female plaintiffs argued that they had been tricked into working for Fujikoshi when they were 13 and 14 years old. They worked long hours under 24-hour surveillance and were not paid. The male plaintiff argued that he was forced to work for Fujikoshi Corp.
Fujikoshi Corp. claimed that prescription had already nullified the plaintiffs’ claims, under the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty and Agreement, and Law 144. The Toyama District Court in 1996 and the Kanazawa Branch Court of the Nagoya High Court in 1998 dismissed the case. The court ruled that the request rights for payment had been annulled because of the prescription and that the request rights for damage compensation and apology advertisements has been annulled after twenty years because of the lapse of the statute of limitations. The court believed the plaintiffs’ accounts of deceptive recruitment tactics, the harsh labor conditions, and the unpaid wages. While arguing before the Supreme Court in 2000, Fujikoshi Corp. asked plaintiffs to settle. Under the terms of the settlement, Fujikoshi Corp. would pay an undisclosed amount to the seven plaintiffs and to the Association of the Bereaved Families of Korean Victims of the Pacific War, and build a monument for the laborers (Yamada 2000:99-103).
The courts have dismissed all cases brought by Korean workers. In 1997, two former workers took Nippon Steel Corp. and the Japanese government to the Osaka District Court, demanding an apology, about 2.85 million yen in unpaid wages and 15 million yen for compensation per person. In 2001, the Court dismissed the case because under the principle of state immunity, the government had no obligation to compensate the damages to individuals that had been incurred under the Meiji Constitution. Under the 1947 State Compensation Law, the country would not assume responsibility for the actions conducted before the law existed (Utsumi 2002:70).
In 1992, Kim Sun-gil, a worker at the Nagasaki Mitsubishi factory sued the Japanese government and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., for unpaid salary, 124 yen and 28 sen, and about 10 million yen compensation for his forced labor and for the injuries that he suffered from the atomic bomb. He requested reimbursement of unpaid wages from the Japanese government after confirming his name on the list of unpaid persons, and finally received 35 yen, the entire amount owned to him, in 1996. In 1997, the Nagasaki District Court dismissed his other claims, saying that the country was not responsible for the illegal acts committed under the Meiji Constitution. The court further held the Mitsubishi Corp., founded in 1954, was not responsible for its predecessor of the same name, disbanded by the GHQ. However, the court recognized the illegal act of the Japanese government and Mitsubushi Corp. and suggested that they award him back pay. In 1999, a year after Kim’s death, the Fukuoka High Court dismissed his claims, and his survivors brought the suit to the Supreme Court (Hirano 2000:93-97).
In 1995, six Koreans who had worked at Mitsubishi factories in Hiroshima sued the Japanese government and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. for 66.55 million yen in unpaid wages and 10 million yen per person in compensation. In 1996, forty plaintiffs joined the suit. In 1944 about 2,800 Korean laborers had worked in the Hiroshima Machinery Factory and Hiroshima Shipyard, two production sites of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. The plaintiffs testified that they had been coerced into working, suffered discrimination, and that Mitsubishi Corp. had not kept its promise to send half of their salaries to their relatives in Korea. In 1974, Mitsubushi Corp. insisted that in 1946 it had deposited the unpaid salaries of 1,950 workers with the Hiroshima Justice Bureau. In 1999, the Hiroshima District Court dismissed the case, and the plaintiffs appealed to the Hiroshima High Court (Toyonaga 2001:386-392). In 2005, the Hiroshima High Court rejected their requests for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. because of the prescription. However, the High Court ordered the government to compensate each person 1,200,000 yen because the government did not apply the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law to atomic bomb victims overseas until 2003 (AS January 20, 2005).
In addition, in 1997, two female former Korean Women’s Volunteer Corps in South Korea sued Numazu factory of the Tokyo Hemp Thread Spinning, demanding a public apology and 30 million yen in compensation; the suit was dismissed by the Shizuoka District Court in January 2000. In 1999, five female former Korean Women’s Volunteer Corps who had been deceived into agreeing to work for Mitsubushi Heavy Industry Nagoya Airplane factory sued the Japanese government and Mitsubushi Corp. in the Nagoya District Court. They demanded that the company publish an apology in leading national newspapers in Japan and South Korea and offer 30 million yen in compensation to each of them. In 2000, six former workers at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, including five plaintiffs of the Hiroshima case brought a suit in South Korea, asking for 600 million won in compensation as well as unpaid wages (Okada 2002b:152-156).
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Towards the end of 1944, the Japanese military leaders became desperate for soldiers and workers. In addition to the thousands of Korean forced laborers brought to Japan, 38,935 Chinese laborers (more than 90 percent of whom were from North China) were deployed to 135 work sites of 35 Japanese enterprises. The Association of Laborers in North China and four other organizations recruited Chinese laborers. Most of these recruits were farmers, but others were Chinese prisoners of war who had fought for the Nationalists (Kuomintang).
Chinese laborers worked in mining (42.0%), construction (39.2%), ports (15.7%) and shipbuilding (3.6%). Unlike their Korean counterparts, many Chinese laborers worked at construction and at ports. After they arrived at their work site, they had a few days to a week to rest, and had one to three months of training. Some work places provided Japanese language instruction. Many organized their Chinese workers into teams or crews under a Chinese supervisor.
The Japanese government set the wages for Chinese workers. Chinese laborers earned a daily wage of 5 yen, usually higher than Japanese (3.5 yen in one construction place) and Korean workers (3 yen) performing the same kind of work. All of the wages for Chinese construction workers were automatically deposited into postal savings and company savings accounts, while a portion of the miners’ wages was given to the laborers themselves and the rest were saved. In the case of dockworkers, all wages went to the supervisors, who then disbursed them to the workers. Most of the 6,830 Chinese forced laborers who died during the war were victims of disease. The death rate of Chinese laborers is a very high, 17.5 percent.
After the war, the Japanese government decided to pay each Chinese laborer 5 yen per day until he returned to China. Condolence money was also provided through supervisors or the associations for Chinese laborers. When Chinese laborers returned to their homeland, the GHQ ordered companies to give each of them 1,000 yen. Most requests for wages by Chinese workers were accepted and paid. The amount varied from several thousand to 100,000 yen. In 1946 the Japanese government compensated the enterprises that had employed Chinese laborers (Nishinarita 2002).
The Hanaoka case of 1995 was the first suit brought by Chinese workers against Japanese corporations and the first to be settled. From August 1944 to June 1945, 982 Chinese laborers were sent to the Hanaoka Mining Company under Kajima-gumi, now Kajima Corporation. Chinese laborers suffered from terrible working conditions, especially long hours of arduous labor with little food. Japanese workers stole food that was meant for the Chinese, even though the government provided the same rations to its Japanese and Chinese workers in Hanaoka.
The Chinese laborers eventually rebelled against their living and working conditions. On June 30, 1945, more than 850 Chinese workers turned on their Japanese supervisors, killing four of them and one Chinese. They then scattered, fleeing into the mountains. Chinese escapees were eventually captured. Thirteen leaders of the revolt were sent to the Akita Prison.
Including the resulting from the Hanaoka Incident, 418 Chinese laborers died from August 1944 to November 1945. After the war, Chinese laborers were sent back to China. In 1948, in the B/C Class War Courts in Yokohama, six people including the site foremen of the Hanaoka workplace and local policemen were convicted of mistreatment of the prisoners of war. Three were sentenced to death, one was sentenced to life in prison, and two others were sentenced to twenty years’ hard labor; however, all were released in 1953 (Nozoe 1996:16-25; Nishinarita 2002:363-408).
In 1987, one of the leaders of the Hanaoka Incident, Geng Zhun, was invited to Japan after hearing that a Japanese group, the Committee for Memorial Service for Chinese Victims was going to hold a memorial service for the victims of the Hanaoka Incident. After returning to China, he formed an association of Chinese laborers and their families. In 1989, a group of survivors and the relatives of the deceased requested that Kashima Co. issue a formal apology, pay compensation of five million yen to each person and build a memorial museum in Akita Prefecture. In 1990, Kashima Construction Co. apologized and started to negotiate for early settlement. However, the negotiations did not operate smoothly, and in 1995, eleven survivors and surviving relatives, including Geng, sued Kashima Construction Co. for 5.5 million yen in compensation per person, in the Tokyo District Court.
In 1997, the Tokyo District Court declined to hear the case because of the lapsed 20-year statute of limitations. The suit was then appealed to the Tokyo High Court. In 1999, the Tokyo High Court suggested a mediated settlement. With the assistance of the Court and the Chinese Red Cross, both sides reached an agreement. Kajima Corp. accepted the responsibility for use of forced labor, but rejecting legal responsibility and insisting that the foundation of the Hanaoka Foundation for Peace and Friendship was not tantamount to reparation or compensation. Kajima Construction Co. would donate 500 million yen to the foundation for conscripted Chinese laborers of the Hanaoka Mining Company, including 150 million for victims and 350 million for social welfare through the Chinese Red Cross. The International Committee of the Red Cross in China would administer the funds to compensate former workers and their survivors. The settlement included the elimination of the request rights by plaintiffs in Japan or elsewhere. In September 2001, twenty-one Hanaoka forced laborers in workplace received 250,000 yen from the Hanaoka Foundation for Peace and Friendship (Takagi 2001:108-109; AS September 28, 2001).
Former Chinese laborers have filed many suits against Japanese companies since the late 1990s. In January 1998, three former Chinese workers and the relatives of two deceased workers sued Nishimatsu Construction in Hiroshima District Court, for an apology and compensation of 5.5 million yen per person; the case was dismissed in February 2001. In July 2004, the Hiroshima High Court ruled in favor of the forced labors and ordered the company to compensate them, even though the period of prescription had expired. The company appealed to the Supreme Court. In 1944, 360 Chinese laborers were to Nishimatsu-Gumi’s construction site in Hiroshima. They were soldiers, farmers and merchants who were taken away from Shangton and Hebei Provinces by the Japanese military. By the end of the war, 112 Chinese laborers were injured, 269 were ill and 29 had died (Kawahara 2000:168-170; AS July 10, 2004).
The Tokyo District Court in 2001 and the Fukuoka District Court in 2002 ordered the Japanese government to pay compensation in two cases. In 1996, Liu Lianren, a Chinese laborer who escaped, hiding in the mountains in Hokkaido for thirteen years before hearing that the war was over sued the Japanese government for 20 million-yen compensation in the Tokyo District Court. In July 2001, the Tokyo District Court ordered the government to pay the survivors of now deceased Liu Lianren 20 million-yen in compensation because the government failed to protect Liu Lianren after the war. Although the government had an obligation to protect him under the 1947 National Compensation Law and the 20-year statute of limitations failed to apply in this case, the judge absolved the government of responsibility for the compensation for forced labor under the terms of international laws and prewar Japanese laws (AS July 13, 2001).
In April 2002, the Fukuoka District Court ruled that Mitsui Mining Co. had to pay 11 million yen to each of the 15 plaintiffs as compensation, because the statute of limitations did not apply, and because the China-Japan Peace Friendship Treaty did not exclude the rights to request compensation by individuals. However, the judge rejected the Japanese government’s obligation to compensate because of state immunity. This was the first time that a court held Japanese companies responsible for paying postwar compensation suits. Mitsui Mining Co. appealed, and plaintiffs who were dissatisfied with the judgment appealed to the Fukuoka High Court. The Court reversed the ruling of the Fukuoka District Court, dismissing the plaintiffs’ request for compensation because of prescription and exclusion (AS April 27, 2002; AS May 24, 2004).
More lawsuits by former Chinese workers are in the courts. In December 1997, seven Chinese former workers and surviving relatives sued four Japanese companies in the Nagano District Court for compensation of 20 million yen per person. More than 3,700 Chinese workers were employed in Nagano Prefecture and 260 died during the war. In September 1997, 42 Chinese forced laborers sued 10 Japanese companies for compensation in the amount of 20 million yen per person in the Tokyo District Court. In March 2003, the Tokyo District Court dismissed the case because 20-year statute of limitations had run out. However, the judge sympathized with the plaintiffs’ accounts of forced recruitment and cruel working conditions, and rejected the government’s argument of state immunity (AS March 11, 2003).
In August 1998, six Chinese former workers sued the Japanese government and Nihon Yakin Kogyō Company for unpaid wages of 1,485 yen per person, a public apology and compensation of 20 million yen per person in the Kyoto District Court. In January 2003, the Court dismissed the case because of the lapse of 20-year damage compensation request rights in civil laws. As in other cases, the judge ruled that the government and the company had committed illegal acts and rejected the claim of state immunity because the forced recruitment was not conducted under the auspices of the Japanese government, but was an illegal act by the former Japanese military (Mainichi Shinbun January 15, 2003).
In September 1999, thirty-three former workers and relatives sued the Japanese government and five Japanese enterprises for an apology and compensation of 20 million yen per person at the Sapporo District Court (Okada 2002b:155). At Niigata Port, 3,018 workers, including 901 Chinese, 670 Koreans, and smaller numbers of American, British and Dutch prisoners of war worked. After the war, the supervisor received the death penalty, later reduced to 30-years’ imprisonment, and 18 were convicted in B/C class war criminal courts (Nakamura 2000:214).
In September 2000, six Chinese workers and one relative sued the Japanese government and the transportation company for 25 million yen per person, 175 million yen for compensation and a public apology in the Niigata District Court (Okada 2002b: 157). In March 2004, the Court ordered the Japanese government and Rinko Corp. to pay its wartime forced workers 8 million yen to each of the 11 plaintiffs because the company and the government had provided inadequate labor management (AS March 27, 2004).
In the first suit on behalf of forced labor filed in China, 13 former Chinese laborers and one relative sued five Japanese companies in December 2000. They requested one million yuan in compensation (about 14 million yen) and the publication of a public apology in the national newspapers of China and Japan (Okada 2002b:158).
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In January 1994, former Dutch POWs and civilian detainees sued the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court for $22,000 per person as compensation for their detention. The case was dismissed in November 1998. The Court did not recognize the rights of individuals to request, because of the 1907 Hague Treaty. However, the Court recognized that one plaintiff had served as a comfort woman and that the other plaintiffs had been abused in the detention center. The appeal to the Tokyo High Court was dismissed in October 2001. In 1995, seven former POWs and civilian detainees from England, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand sued in the Tokyo District Court for $22,000 per person in damage compensation against cruel labor and abuse. The case was also dismissed on the basis of the Hague Treaty in November 1998 (Okada 2002b:150).
In 1999, the state of California passed the California Code of Civil Procedure. Section 354.6: “Compensation for slave and forced labor” extended the prescription of lawsuits regarding compensation for labor performed by slave or forced labor during World War II until December 31, 2010. Wartime workers can now sue the Japanese enterprises as well as the Japanese government. Since then, POWs, detained citizens, Korean and Chinese laborers and their surviving relatives living in the United States, Europe, Asia and Oceana brought suits in California against Japanese enterprises such as Mitsubishi Co., Mitsui & Co., and Nippon Steel Corp. The plaintiffs requested the defendant(s) to disburse unpaid wages and to compensate for their psychological and other damages. Some plaintiffs who sued in Japan before in the 1990s refiled in the United States. By October 2000, 32 lawsuits against 59 Japanese enterprises have been filed in the United States (Takagi 2001:41).
In September 2000, the judge for the Northern District of California rejected the 14 cases by former POWs to remand the cases to the state courts, and dismissed their claims because these were matters of the federal law and the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty waived all the claims brought by former military personnel of the U.S. or its allies during World War II, including the claims of forced labor. However, the judge reserved for further proceedings the claims of four cases brought by Chinese and Korean plaintiffs who were or are citizens of nations that had not signed the 1951 Treaty. Plaintiffs who were rejected this time planned to appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In October 2000, four cases were in federal court, four cases remanded to state courts, and 10 cases brought to state courts (Tokutome 2000:224-229; Los Angeles Times September 22, 2000).
In September 2000, fifteen former comfort women, six Koreans, four Chinese, four Filipinos, and one Taiwanese brought a suit against the Japanese government to the Washington District Court. In 2001, the Court dismissed their case and they went to the Appeals Court (Okada 2002b:157). In January 2002, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared the 1999 California law unconstitutional because the California law “runs afoul of the [Constitution’s] restriction on the exercise of foreign affairs powers by the state,” and upheld federal trial rulings in Los Angeles and San Francisco (Los Angeles Times January 22, 2003).
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Atomic bombs fell upon Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and upon Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. By 1950, 119,000 deaths in Hiroshima and 74,000 deaths in Nagasaki were attributed to the atomic bombs (Hamashima 1999:165-166). The number of atomic bomb victims who hold a health care booklet proving their status was 291,824 at the end of 2000, having peaked at 372,264 at the end of 1980. In recent years, the number of health care booklet holders whose average age is 71 years old as of 2001 has been decreasing by 6,000 to 7,000 every year (AS August 6, 2001). Atomic bomb victims have suffered not only from the health problems but also from social and psychological discrimination and ostracism, especially at marriages.
The Japanese government is responsible for providing medical and economic aid as well as compensation for the victims of atomic bombs. Under Article 19 of the 1951 Peace Treaty, Japan waived “all claims of Japan and its nationals against the Allied Powers and their nationals arising out of the war or out of actions taken because of the existence of a state of war.” In 1955, atomic bomb victims sued the Japanese government for compensation. In 1956, the first conference of the Japan Confederation of A-Bomb and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations requested legislation to aid atomic bomb victims.
The 1957 Law Concerning Medical Care for the Atomic Bomb Exposed guaranteed government payments for checkups and medical care, but did not provide money for the relatives or injured. The 1968 Law Concerning Special Measures for the Atomic Bomb Exposed provides medical benefits and allowances; counseling and other welfare services were added later. In 1994, the 1957 Law and 1968 Law were consolidated into the Law Concerning Support for the Atomic Bomb Exposed (Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law) to provide special funeral benefits of 100,000 yen, and welfare programs apart from medical benefits and government allowances, and to abolish income limits.
If atomic bomb victims are shown to suffer from cancer as a result of radiation from an atomic bomb, they can receive medical allowances of about 140,000 yen per month for the duration of their treatment, and afterwards, they receive a special monthly allowance of 51,550 yen. It is difficult to establish a directly causal relationship between exposure to radiation and the onset of diseases. Less than one percent (0.76%) of those 285,620 atomic bomb victims who hold a health care booklet are recognized as having diseases related to radiation. Approximately 500 atomic bomb victims with cancer applied for the medical allowance, but many of them have been denied because of the inability to prove that the radiation caused the cancer. Twenty-one atomic bomb victims with cancers who were denied benefits sued the government in the Tokyo, Osaka and Chiba District Courts for 3 million yen in compensation in May 2003. The medical expenses of atomic bomb victims are paid by the government, and 240,000 people with heart diseases and other conditions that might be related to the radiation receive health care allowances of 34,000 yen per month (AS July 7, 2002; AS July 12, 2002; AS May 28, 2003).
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In 1974, the Korean Association for the Assistance to Atomic Bomb Victims estimated that half of the 70,000 Korean atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima and half of the 30,000 Korean atomic bomb victims in Nagasaki died immediately or shortly after bombs fell (Takagi 2001:72-73). Korean survivors of the blasts formed the Korean Atomic Bomb Victims Relief Association in 1967 in hopes of medical treatment and compensation after they found that they were not covered by the 1965 Japan-South Korea Agreement. In 1977 the Association of Citizens for Supporting South Korean Atomic Bomb Victims was formed.
In 1972, Son Chin-du, a Korean atomic bomb survivor who was arrested when illegally entering Japan in 1970, filed a suit against Fukuoka Prefecture and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, after his request for a health care booklet for atomic bomb victims was denied. The Fukuoka District Court (in 1974), the Fukuoka High Court (in 1975) and the Supreme Court (in 1978) supported for the request, ruling that the 1957 Medical Care Law should be applied to all atomic bomb victims, regardless of their nationality or residency (Takagi 2001:74-76). After 1981, Korean victims received the health care booklets for atomic bomb victims. From 1980 to 1986, 226 survivors of the Hiroshima bombing and 123 of the Nagasaki bombing received free medical treatments in Japan under the Medical Care Law (Toyonaga 2001:385).
Upon conclusion of the medical treatments in 1987, the Association of Atomic Bomb Victims in Korea asked the Japanese government for 2.3 billion dollars in compensation (Takagi 2001:80). In 1991 and 1993 the Japanese government allocated 4 billion yen for the aids for Korean atomic victims through the Red Cross in 1991 and 1993.
As of 2001, people who lived within two kilometers from the point of impact are paid 17,220 yen a month under the 1994 Aid Law. Atomic bomb victims living abroad can have free medical treatment and monthly health care allowances of 34,000 yen, when they come to Japan and obtain the health care booklet (AS December 11, 2001), but once they went outside of Japan, they were not entitled to medical treatment or monthly allowances until 2003.
The Japanese government sent researchers to North Korea to find atomic bomb victims. They found 1,353 atomic bomb victims, who have asked for compensation (AS March 19, 2001). In 2002, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare established and funded a foundation to support atomic bomb victims abroad; however, the support organizations for these foreign victims insisted that they should receive the same health care allowances as atomic bomb victims in Japan. Very few applied for airfare and travel expenses to Japan because they were too infirm to make the trip (AS August 6, 2002).
Until 2003, foreign atomic bomb victims could not receive health care allowances once they returned to their homeland. Foreign atomic bomb victims are growing old and should be able to receive health care allowances in their own country just as atomic bomb victims living in Japan do. Some foreign atomic bomb victims went to court. Kwak Kifun came to Japan in May 1998 to receive medical treatments. He had been drafted in 1944 and was in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. In Japan, he was provided a health care booklet for atomic bomb victims and the same monthly health care allowances that Japanese victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki received. However, upon his return to Korea in July 1998, his booklet became invalid and the health care allowances were suspended.
In October 1998 Kwak brought a lawsuit to Osaka District Court for the restoration of his health care allowance and about 2 million yen in compensation against the Osaka Prefecture and the Japanese government. In 2001 the Osaka District Court recognized that Kwak could retain his booklet and receive an allowance in Korea, in addition to the unpaid balance of 1.16 million yen because the Support Law for Atomic Bomb Victims had to apply to all atomic bomb victims regardless of where they lived. The Japanese government appealed the decision. In 2002, the Osaka High Court upheld the ruling and rejected the appeals of the Japanese government and the Osaka prefectural administration (Takagi 2001:39, 81-82; AS June 2, 2001; AS December 6, 2002). The Japanese government and the Osaka prefectural administration decided not to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
Lee Kannyon, who had undergone three months of medical treatment in Nagasaki in 1994 brought a suit in 1999 against the Japanese government and Nagasaki municipal administration, requesting reinstatement of health care allowances, and 3 million yen in compensation. In 2001 the Nagasaki District Court agreed to the plaintiff’s requests and ordered the resumption of allowances for atomic bomb victims after they returned to Korea. The court also ordered the defendants to pay health care allowances as well as the full amount of compensation that the plaintiff had requested. The Japanese government appealed to the Fukuoka High Court (Chūgoku Shinbun January 9, 2002). The Fukuoka High Court agreed with the Osaka High Court that cutting off health care allowances to atomic bomb victims overseas is illegal. The government will not appeal, just in the case of the Osaka High Court (AS February 8, 2003).
Since 2003, the government has provided health care allowances of 34,000 yen a month as well as medical expenses for those who have a health care booklet, even if they leave Japan. The government now helps atomic bomb victims overseas to obtain the booklets and travel and medical expenses. In 2005, the Hiroshima High Court ordered the government to compensate each Korean atomic bomb victim plaintiff living overseas 1,200,000 yen (AS January 20, 2005).
At the 1905 Portsmouth Treaty that concluded the Russo-Japanese War, Japan took back a lease right of Southern Manchuria and acquired the southern half of Sakhalin, holding it until 1945. In 1940, 320,000 Japanese lived in Sakhalin (Yamawaki 1994:282). Many Koreans were sent or went to Sakhalin to work as coal miners. When Sakhalin became a territory of the Soviet Union in 1945, 300,000 Japanese residents and 43,000 Koreans in Sakhalin remained. In 1946, only the Japanese returned to Japan under the agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, under the 1956 Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration, the Japanese who were left in Sakhalin returned to Japan while only about 2,000 Koreans who had a Japanese wife or mother were permitted to return to Japan because South Korea did not have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union until 1990. The Soviet Union urged Koreans to acquire Soviet or North Korean citizenship, and by 1960, Sakhalin Koreans were 65 percent North Koreans, 25 percent Soviet Union nationals, and 10 percent unaffiliated.
In 1975, four Korean plaintiffs living in Sakhalin brought a suit to the Tokyo District Court in order to compel the Japanese government to guarantee their return to Japan. The Japanese government shifted the decision to the Soviet Union; therefore, there was no reason to pursue the suit, which was withdrawn in 1989. From the end of 1988 to 1990, many Koreans in Sakhalin were able to visit their families by going to Korea through Japan. In 1989 the Red Cross Societies of Japan and South Korea established a “Support Association for Koreans in Sakhalin,” and provided a monthly charter airplane. The Japanese government paid travel expenses. For ten years, from 1990 to 2000, 12,4000 Koreans visited Korea and about 2,000 Koreans moved there permanently. After 1990, the Japanese and Korean governments shared the funds to allow about 110 Sakhalin Koreans to spend a month in Korea with their families.
In 1990, the 21 Koreans remaining in Sakhalin, their families in South Korea, and Korean returnees sued the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court for war compensation. This was the first suit that asked for the Japanese government to accept legal responsibility and to pay compensation. They withdrew their suit in July 1995 when the Japanese government offered to negotiate. In 1994, the Japanese government decided to provide 3.2 billion yen for the construction of assisted living facilities and apartments in Korea so that they can live in Korea permanently; the Korean government provided the land. In March 1999, one assisted living facility for 100 people opened in Korea. In February 2000, a community with six 10-story apartment complexes, a conference building and an office building for 1,000 returnees from Sakhalin was completed in Korea. Two thousand Koreans in 500 households relocated from Sakhalin to Korea; however, more than 1,000 Koreans who hope to return to Korea still live in Sakhalin. Approximately 40,000 Koreans, mainly second- and third-generation, live in Sakhalin. The Japanese government has plans to build a cultural center in Sakhalin (Takagi 2001; Kim 1995:225-241; AS March 3 1999; AS March 27, 2000).
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Unit 731, the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department in the Kwantung Army, was the secret biological warfare unit, whose headquarters under General Ishii Shirō operated in the suburbs of Harbin, with branches across the Manchuria. Japan did not ratify the 1925 the Geneva Convention that prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons until 1970 (Japan ratified in 1970).
In 1932, Ishii Shirō established a clandestine cell of the Epidemic Prevention Laboratory in the military medical school in Tokyo and the Tōgō Unit in the village of Bei-inho, southeast of Harbin. In the fall of 1934, twelve POWs escaped, and Chinese guerrillas attacked the Ishii’s forces, and Ishii had to close the facility. In 1936 the Tōgō Unit became the Epidemic Prevention Department of the Kwantung Army (Ishii Unit). In 1940, the Ishii Unit was renamed the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department (referred to as Unit 731 after 1941). The Unit 731 had five branches in Manchuria, and Unit 100 in Changchun. The Japanese military established four other main branches of Unit 731 in Beijing (Unit 1855), Nanking (Unit 1644), Guangzhou (Unit 8604), and Singapore (Unit 9420), each of which had its own subsidiary branches. These units conducted biological and chemical experiments developed by Unit 731. There was an entire staff of 20,000, including 3,000 in Unit 731.
The plague bacilli and cholera germs developed by Unit 731 were tested on Chinese subjects in 1940, 1941 and 1942. The Japanese military spread cholera, typhoid, plague and dysentery pathogens in the Jinhua area of Zhejiang province in June and July 1942 to punish Chinese collaboration with the Allies after the U.S. bombed in Tokyo and Nagoya. According to one source, as many as 1,700 Japanese soldiers also died of the disease. In 1999, the Chinese national press reported that the Japanese Army waged bacteriological warfare in 63 places in 20 provinces in the northeast and central China from 1933 to 1945, and that more than 270,000 Chinese people died as a consequence. However, it is difficult to distinguish whether the plague had natural or human causes. One Japanese professor argued that there would have been at most 1,000 victims if it had been germ warfare. Furthermore, Unit 731 used as many as 3,000 Chinese detainees and a few Russian POWs, as guinea pigs, called “maruta” (logs) from 1939 to the end of war (Tanaka 1996:136-138; Nanasanichi 1996; AS August 3, 1999; AS November 29, 1999; Matsumura 2002).
The staff of Unit 731 destroyed their buildings and equipment when they left Manchuria in August 1945. Ishii and senior staff of Unit 731 privately asked General MacArthur for immunity from the prosecution of war crimes in return for their knowledge of chemical and biological warfare. By September 1947, the United States had already decided not to prosecute Ishii and his staff for war crimes.
On the other hand, in December 1949, the Khabarovsk War Crimes Court of the Soviet Union tried twelve accused Japanese war criminals who had been involved in biological experiments, including Takahashi Takaatsu and his subordinates of Unit 100 of Changtung. The defendants testified that the Japanese military provided approximately 600 “maruta” per year, and about 3,000 for human body experiments supervised by Unit 731 until the end of the war (Matsumura 2002). In 1999, the Chinese provincial government of Heilongjiang published the names of 42 people arrested as spies for the Soviet Union, all of whom were sent to Unit 731 and were probably used for experiments. Unit 731 destroyed all of its data on human subjects before the war ended; therefore, the evidence came from witness testimony (AS August 3, 1999).
Between 1981 and 1983, Morimura Seiichi’s Akuma no Hōshoku (Devil’s Gluttony), a history of Unit 731 and bacteriological warfare was a best seller. In 1984, the historian Ienaga Saburō brought his third textbook authorization suit to the Tokyo District Court for two million yen in compensation for emotional distress caused by the conditional approval of eight sections in the 1980 edition of his high school textbook, New Japanese History, the rejection of his 1982 “correction,” and finally its conditional approval in 1983.
Responding to the controversy over war responsibility and the victimizer’s view of history, the Supreme Court declared in 1997 that the screeners illegally asked Ienaga to change four sections that described the “Troop Somo,” the Nanking massacre, the mass rapes, and Unit 731, while confirming the constitutionality of the textbook authorization system, and ending Ienaga’s 32 years of litigation. The screener “illegally” suggested that Ienaga omit the following reference, “[the Japanese Army] established a unit specialized in bacteriological warfare called Unit 731 in the outskirts of Harbin [in China] and [they] continued to engage in such atrocious acts as killing several thousands of foreigners, mainly Chinese people by using them in biological experiments for several years until the Soviet Union entered the war” (Tokutake 1999:165-168; Ienaga 1993:217-223; Los Angeles Times August 30, 1997).
In 1995, the Japanese government ratified the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention, CWC). China signed it in 1993 and ratified it four years later. After the United States declassified documents regarding chemical weapons, the Japanese government admitted its wartime use of “lethal gases.” In April 1997 the UN Chemical Weapons Convention went into effect, and Japan was obligated to abandon about 700,000 of its chemical munitions scattered across China by 2007.
In 2000, the destruction of the chemical weapons that the Japanese military had left in China began. In 2002, the Japanese government sent a delegation to China to excavate mustard gas and lewisite, and to collect abandoned bombs, shells and lethal chemicals. The Japanese government put 17.1 billion yen into the 2004 budget (Los Angeles Times August 28, 2002; Yoshimi 2004).
In September 2003, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of 13 Chinese plaintiffs of the 1996 suit seeking about 200 million yen in compensation. Chemical weapons and ammunition abandoned by the Japanese army at the end of World War II had injured three Chinese workers in 1974, four in 1982, and one in 1996; two workers were killed in 1995. The judge ruled that the Japanese government had been responsible for gathering and supplying information about abandoned weapons to China after the 1972 China-Japan Joint Communiqué. The judge ordered the Japanese government to pay the plaintiffs about 190 million yen. This was the first case in which the judge ordered the Japanese government to compensate for the victims of abandoned weapons abandoned. The Japanese government appealed it to the Tokyo High Court. In May 2003, in another case, the judge rejected the claims of five Chinese plaintiffs injured by abandoned weapons, on the grounds that Japan could not be held responsible for failing to clear weapons from the areas outside of its jurisdiction (AS September 30, 2003; AS October 4, 2003).
In August 1995, fifteen survivors and relatives of the Nanking Massacre, Unit 731 and indiscriminate bombing sued the Japanese government for 20 million yen per person compensation in the Tokyo District Court. In September 1999, the Tokyo District Court dismissed the case, but it recognized that Unit 731 used human body experiments (Okada 2002b:151; Matsumura 2002:154).
In August 1997, 108 subjects of bacteriological warfare performed by Unit 731 and relatives of those who had died sued the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court, demanding a public apology and 10 million yen each in compensation. In 2002, the Tokyo District Court recognized for the first time that Unit 731 used chemical weapons to infect, sicken and kill many inhabitants, by spraying fleas with plague bacilli and putting cholera bacilli into water. The court cited prewar treaties such as the Hague Treaty that prohibited bacteriological war. However, the court did not implicate the Japanese government in the development of bacteriological warfare, and rejected compensation requests from 108 plaintiffs because compensation issues had been resolved by the 1978 China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty (AS August 28, 2002; AS August 29, 2002).
Hong Kong, a British colony from 1842 to 1997, was occupied by the Japanese from December 1941 until the end of the Pacific War. On December 8, 1941, the Japanese military attacked Hong Kong, which surrendered on Dec. 25, 1941 with 1,555 British deaths, 9,495 British captured, 683 Japanese deaths and 1,413 injured soldiers.
The Japanese military governed Hong Kong until February 1942, when the Hong Kong Governor-General administered Hong Kong jointly with the Staff Office. Four members of the Assembly of Chinese representatives met twice a month with Governor-General of Hong Kong to discuss domestic affairs. At the local level, three Hong Kong occupation district offices and other district offices had chiefs and vice chiefs appointed by Governor-General, and district chiefs appointed district officials.
The population of Hong Kong increased from 85,000 in 1931 to 1,440,000 in 1941 because many Chinese fled to Hong Kong to escape from the Sino-Japanese War. However, the Japanese military government enforced population control policy by expelling refugees. Some were paid to return to their hometowns; others were expelled with little money. This policy kept the population of Hong Kong at 500,000. After the war, this ruthless policy was considered a war crime, and responsible persons were punished for “crimes against humanity.”
From January 1941, the Japanese military government redeemed Hong Kong dollars at the exchange rate of one military coupon to two Hong Kong dollars. After July 1942, the exchange rate fell to one to four, and after May 1943, the circulation of Hong Kong dollars was prohibited. Military coupons were also used elsewhere in China. From the second half of 1943, the inflation was caused by an oversupply of military coupons, the inflated price of rationed rice, a famine, gambling and a food shortage. In addition, air raids by the Allied Forces and Communist anti-Japanese resistance escalated.
After the war, the British recovered Hong Kong. In September 1945, the British military government prohibited the use of military coupons, but did not exchange them for Hong Kong dollars. Therefore, military coupons valued at more than $1,200,000,000 became invalid without compensation. Furthermore, the Hong Kong B/C class war crimes tribunal under the British accused 121 of war crimes, and convicted 109. Seventeen were sentenced to death. Tanaka Hisakasu, Governor-General from December 1944 to the end of war, and Noma Kennosuke, Chief Military Police were among those who were executed.
In 1968, the Association to Seek for the Compensation for Hong Kong Military Coupons was established. In 1993, 17 members of the Association sued the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court for the redemption of military coupons and consolation money, a total of 760 million yen. In June 1999, the Tokyo District Court dismissed their requests. The Court argued that the 1907 Hague Treaty does not recognize the right of individual victims to request damages or reparations. Furthermore, in September 1945, MacArthur and the Ministry of Finance declared the military coupons void and restored the Japanese yen as the unit of currency. Japan was not held responsible for compensation because of state immunity. However, the court recognized the plaintiffs’ damages and losses through the forced currency exchange. Again, the court ruled that compensation should be decided by the legislature, not by the court (Kobayashi and Shibata 1996; Takagi 2001:119-124; Okada 2002b:149).
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For more than a decade, Japan’s aging foreign victims, soldiers and civilian employees, forced laborers, atomic bomb victims, comfort women, and others have sued the Japanese government and Japanese companies, demanding formal apologies and compensation. The courts usually dismissed the cases due to the expiration of the statute of limitations and/or on the grounds of state immunity under the 1947 National Compensation Law. Many courts ruled that the compensation should be decided by the legislature, not the court, though many courts recognized the sufferings and damages of plaintiffs.
Responding to the courts, the legislature promulgated compensation laws that applied to most Asian victims of the Asia-Pacific War. Some Japanese companies settled with Korean and Chinese laborers out of court, by paying consolidation money without admitting legal liability.
Taiwanese veterans in Taiwan, and Korean and Taiwanese veterans in Japan were finally awarded some compensation from the Japanese government after protracted legal battles. Japanese military personnel, wounded soldiers, and their survivors have had generous pensions and special assistance since 1952, and Japanese atom bomb victims have received medical aids and allowances since 1960. On the other hand, Taiwanese war veterans and their families finally received “condolence money” of 2 million yen apiece through the Red Cross Societies of Japan and Taiwan through the 1986 and 1987 Laws. In addition, since 1995, the Japanese government paid military postal savings and unpaid salaries for Taiwanese soldiers and civilian employees of the army or navy.
For Korean veterans and their families, the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty and Agreement settled the outstanding reparations and compensation problems. The South Korean government paid 300,000 won to each of the 8,552 surviving families of Korean soldiers and army/naval civilian employees and reimbursed 6,622,090,000 won in unpaid salaries, and deposits of Korean workers under the 1971 and 1974 Korean laws. However, wounded soldiers in Japan and in Korea did not receive any compensation. Finally, under the 2000 Law, Korean or Taiwanese veterans and civilian employees of the army and navy living in Japan received 2.6 million yen as “gift money” and 4 million yen as presents and support money.
From 1939, 725,000 Koreans went or were deployed to Japan as laborers in mining industries, construction sites, and factories. After World War II, the majority of them went back to Korea. In the 1990s, former forced workers started to take Japanese companies (and the Japanese government) to court in order to receive their unpaid wages and compensation. The courts dismissed the majority of these lawsuits. In the cases of Nihon Seitetsu (now Sin-Nittetsu/ Nippon Steel Corp.), the Nihon Kōkan (now NKK/ Japanese Steel NKK Corp.) and Fujikoshi Sozai (Fujikoshi Corp.), Korean plaintiffs settled out of court with Japanese companies, and received some money for consideration, but no apology.
Almost 40,000 Chinese laborers were forced to work in mines, shipyards, and ports, and on construction sites. The death rate for these workers from disease and exhaustion was appallingly high. After the war, the companies reimbursed unpaid wages and savings to Chinese laborers, and also paid condolence money. Former laborers sued Japanese companies, demanding apologies and compensation. Some courts dismissed the cases but others ordered payment to the plaintiffs. The Hanaoka case, the first case brought by Chinese former workers in 1995 was settled out of court.
Atomic bomb victims have received health checkups and medical care under the 1957 Law, medical care benefits and allowances under the 1968 Law, and welfare programs and funeral benefits by the 1994 Law. Approximately 240,000 atomic bomb victims suffering from diseases that might be related to the radiation receive health care allowances of 34,000 yen per month. In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1957 Medical Care Law should be applied to all atomic bomb victims, regardless of their nationality or residency. From 1979 Korean victims were able to undergo two to six months of medical treatment in Japan, with financial assistance from the Japanese government; after 1981 they all received the health care booklet of atomic bomb victims. However, once they went back to their country, the health care allowances were suspended. When the courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2003, the Japanese government has provided 34,000 yen a month for health management to atomic bomb victims with the health care booklets, even after they return to their home countries.
Unit 731, the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department in the Kwantung Army stationed in Manchuria, conducted biological and chemical experiments. Bacteriological weapons such as plague bacilli and cholera germ were tested on Chinese people. In addition, Unit 731 conducted human experiments on many as 3000 Chinese people and a few Russian POWs, from 1939 until the end of war.
The Japanese government, which ratified the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, must abandon all chemical munitions in China by 2007. The destruction of Japanese chemical weapons started in China in 2000. The courts dismissed the requests of people who had been the subjects of Unit 731’s experiments because the compensation had been settled by the 1978 China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty and the international laws did not grant individuals the right to sue the Japanese government.
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