Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reiterated that the government remains firm on their stand that all issues of wartime reparation have been “completely and finally” settled with the 1965 treaty with South Korea. The statement comes after a South Korean court has ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to compensate four of its former employees for unpaid salaries and mental suffering in the amount of 88,000 dollars each.
Suga said they are still examining the details of the court’s ruling, but if they see that it is not compatible with the government’s stand on this issue, they will help out the company to take the appropriate issue and back them up if they will refuse to comply with the ruling. The case was a 16 year battle for the plaintiffs who first sued the company in 1997 at a Japanese lower court, but their claims were dismissed by 2005. This time around, South Korea’s Supreme Court asked the Seoul High Court to reconsider their previous decision in 2005 which also dismissed the separate cases brought to them by the same four workers. Judge Yoon Seong-keun explained their new ruling by saying that they found the company guilty of committing “crimes against humanity” by forcing the four to work for them in Japan during World War II as part of the country’s aggression towards the colonized peninsula.
The 1965 treaty Suga is referring to was an agreement between the two countries to normalize relations for the first time after the Japanese occupation ended in 1945. Part of that agreement was that workers who were forced into labor during the war will not be qualified to receive individual compensation. Instead, the Japanese paid South Korea 500 million dollars as one form of economic compensation.
[ via Mainichi ]