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Japan court rejects claims of Chinese victims
Updated: 2006-03-10 15:58

TOKYO -- A Japanese court dismissed a compensation claim filed by a group of Chinese who were forced to work on construction projects in Japan during World War II, saying the deadline for filing such cases had passed, a court official said Friday.

The Nagano District Court in central Japan threw out the plaintiffs' demand for a total of 140 million yen (US$1.18 million; euro1 million) in damages from the state and four construction companies, according to court official Michiko Koike.

The court said the government and companies had committed an illegal act by bringing the Chinese to Japan against their will and forcing them to work, but the deadline for filing compensation claims _ usually 20 years under Japanese law _ had expired, according to a summary of the ruling.

The plaintiffs - three former Chinese laborers and the relatives of four deceased workers - were taken from China to Nagano to build hydroelectric power plants during the war, the court said.

The court also dismissed the plaintiffs' demand for an apology to be published in newspapers.

The four construction companies are Kajima Corp., Kumagai Gumi Co., Taisei Corp. and Tobishima Corp.

Japan has generally refused to pay damages to individuals despite accusations that it has not fully atoned for its wartime brutality. Officials claim that the issue was settled on a government-to-government basis in postwar treaties.

In 2004, a high court reversed a landmark lower court ruling ordering the government to pay compensation to the relatives of a Chinese man forced to work for the Japanese military, saying the current government isn't accountable for wrongs committed by the country's wartime leaders.

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