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Forced laborers vow never to give up compensation fight
Updated: 2008-09-18 10:37

JINAN -- Chinese forced laborers during World War II vowed on Wednesday never to give up on their "non-lawsuit means" to seek compensation from Japan, despite losing earlier lawsuit cases over the past several years.

Eighty forced laborers and families of the dead gathered in Jinan, capital of China's eastern Shandong Province, and discussed how to seek compensation from Japan via non-lawsuit means on Wednesday. The date was one day before the 77th anniversary of the Sept. 18 Incident that marked the start of a massive armed invasion by Japan into northeastern China.

Li Liangjie, 83, said while most of the compensation lawsuit cases had failed, the group would not give up its non-lawsuit means to solve the problem.

From 1943 to 1945, a large number of Chinese were captured and taken by the invaders to Japan, forcing them to work in mines and construction sites. About 7,000 died due to the ruthless exploitation. The rest were repatriated after the war.

The laborers began their compensation lawsuit in the early 1990s. Liu Lianren was one of them.

Liu was forcibly taken to Japan in September 1944 from his home in Shandong. He was taken to Japan through Qingdao along with 800 others.

He was forced to work at a mine in the town of Numata in northwestern Hokkaido. From there, he escaped with four other laborers in April 1945 and continued to hide in the mountains until being found in February 1958.

Liu filed suit in 1996. His eldest son, Liu Huanxin, took over the fight after he died in 2000 at the age of 87.

In 2001, the Tokyo District Court ruled Japan should compensate a foreign national forcibly brought to the country for labor during the war. The ruling, however, was rejected in 2005 by the Tokyo High Court.

"Like Liu, Chinese laborers filed more than 20 lawsuits, but mostly they lost their cases," said Fu Qiang, a lawyer for Liu. "There is a bleak future for the compensation via lawsuits."

"The team of lawyers for the compensation has considered other means such as talks to solve the problem," he said.

Fu said the non-lawsuit means had been put on the agenda of Chinese and Japanese lawyers for the forced labor case.

"We need justice and will keep the compensation problem to the very end," said Lv Zhiying, daughter of forced laborer Lv Xuewen who died five years ago.

The laborers and their families hoped more Chinese lawyers would join the team to help solve the compensation issue.

Deng Jianguo, head of the lawyer team, said about 40,000 Chinese were captured and taken to Japan, but the number of survivors currently only stood at 700, all in their 70s and 80s.

"We hope the Japanese government and the enterprises who used the forced labor to make an apology and compensation as soon as possible," he said.