TOKYO: Reflecting "Japanese justice's weird logic on its wartime history",
the Tokyo High Court yesterday overturned Niigata District Court's landmark
ruling that had ordered the Japan government and a company to pay compensation
to the Chinese made to work as forced laborers during World War II.
The presiding judge conceded that the Japanese government and Niigata-based
Rinko Corp had infringed on the rights of the Chinese. But he ruled that the
20-year limit of their right to demand compensation had expired and the state
cannot be held responsible for actions taken before the National Redress Law was
enforced in 1947.
The plaintiffs' renewed demand for higher compensation, too, was rejected.
Kang Jian, a member of the group of lawyers for the plaintiffs, said the
ruling was a shame on the court and reflected Japanese justice's weird logic on
its wartime history.
Xing Nianfang, one of the plaintiffs, was angry with the ruling and vowed to
file a suit to the "final end" and till the victims got justice.
Eleven Chinese forced laborers filed the damages suit in the Niigata District
Court in 1999. The court ruled in March 2004 that the Japanese government and
the harbor transport company pay 8 million yen (about $68,000) in compensation
to each of the victims. It was the first ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in
the three wartime forced labor lawsuits filed by Chinese people and their
In response to the Niigata court ruling, the defendants and the plaintiffs
appealed to the Tokyo High Court to demand a higher compensation.
The invading Japanese army forcibly took about 900 Chinese in their 20s to a
port in western Niigata in 1944, and forced them to do backbreaking work under
poor conditions and even tortured them.
Such were conditions that 159 of them died within a year.