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Friday, Oct. 28, 2011

Top court nixes S. Korean slave workers redress suit


The Supreme Court has rejected a compensation demand by a group of South Korean women who were coerced into working at a machine plant in Japan during the war, legal sources said Wednesday.

In a decision dated Monday, which basically ends the litigation, the top court turned down an appeal by 23 South Korean women — who were either forced laborers or are relatives of deceased workers — demanding a total of ¥100 million in compensation from the central government and Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp., a machinery maker based in Toyama.

In September 2007, the Tokyo District Court rejected the plaintiffs' demand on grounds that South Koreans lost their right to demand redress under a 1965 treaty that normalized relations between Japan and South Korea.

The Kanazawa branch of the Nagoya High Court upheld the district court's ruling in March 2010.

Both the district and high courts acknowledged the women were brought to Japan from the Korean Peninsula, which was under colonial rule from 1910-1945, under false pretenses and forced to work during the war.

But the two courts turned down the plaintiffs' demand for compensation after the Supreme Court in April 2007 ruled in a separate decision that the individual rights of former Chinese forced laborers for war reparations were void under the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communique.

Under the 1965 treaty, Tokyo paid a lump sum of $500 million to Seoul in grants and loans, and the two countries agreed that South Koreans brought to Japan as wartime laborers had no right to claim individual compensation.

According to the rulings by the district and high courts, the women were shipped to Japan from the Korean Peninsula between 1944 and 1945 after being misled by Japanese teachers and others, who told them they would receive higher education or earn generous wages.

The courts acknowledged that the women were in fact forced to perform hard labor, such as manufacturing aircraft parts, and were not fed enough.

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