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Japan govt told to compensate Chinese WW2 workers
Updated: 2004-03-26 15:55

In a landmark ruling, a Japanese court ordered the government and a transport firm on Friday to pay 88 million yen (US$830,300) compensation to a group of Chinese who were forced to work in Japan during World War Two, Kyodo news agency said.

Ten Chinese former labourers and two relatives of a deceased worker had demanded that the government and regional transport firm Rinko Corp pay 275 million yen in redress.

The ruling by the Niigata District Court in northern Japan was greeted by a roar of applause from the plaintiffs and their supporters, Kyodo said.

Court officials were not immediately available for comment.

But an official at Rinko said: "We do not think that the ruling by the Niigata District Court is appropriate. We will consider whether to appeal after studying the details of the ruling with our lawyers."

The company is listed on the second section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Dozens of wartime compensation suits have been filed against the government and companies related to Japan's aggression in the first half of the 20th century.

Most have been rejected by Japanese courts, and Friday's ruling is the first say the state should pay compensation.

According to the suit, the plaintiffs in the case were brought forcibly to Japan from China in 1944 and made to work in the coal transport business in Niigata, Kyodo said. They were subjected to abuse and received no wages, it said.

Tens of thousands of Korean and Chinese were brought to Japan before and during World War Two to work in factories and mines as forced labourers for little or no pay to help keep Japan's war machine going.

The Japanese government's stance on war reparations is that they were settled once and for all in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty that formally ended the Pacific War and in subsequent bilateral treaties.

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