Japanese firms resist compensating forced wartime labourers from Korea

Dec 19, 2018

JAPAN’S ACTIONS during the second world war cast a long shadow, especially in South Korea. Only in 1965, twenty years after Japan’s colonisation of the Korean peninsula ended, did the two countries agree to re-establish relations. They have been thorny ever since. A serious spat started in the autumn when the Supreme Court in Seoul upheld judgments in the lower courts against two Japanese firms, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp, obliging the pair to pay compensation to South Koreans forced to work for them during the war. More such cases are coming through the courts.

On at least one occasion Japanese companies have settled privately with former forced labourers from China, says Seita Yamamoto, a Japanese lawyer. The sums awarded in the South Korean rulings look affordable, at between 80m and 150m won ($71,000-133,000) per plaintiff. But Japan’s government, which deems the rulings...


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