S. Korean court orders Mitsubishi to pay damages to WWII labour victims

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Seoul, Aug 8 (IANS) A South Korean court on Tuesday ordered Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay damages to the country’s victims of forced labour during World War II.

The Gwangju city court ruled that Mitsubishi should pay 120 million won ($107,000) in compensation to Kim Young-ok, 85, a surviving victim of the forced labour, and 3,256,684 won to a relative of deceased victim Choe Jeong-rye.

The damages for the relative were based on the inheritance share of the plaintiff.

The plaintiffs originally demanded Mitsubishi pay 150 million won in damages to the surviving victim and 30 million won to the in-law of the late victim.

The two victims were duped in 1944, when they were elementary and middle school students, into toiling without pay at an aircraft manufacturing plant in Nagoya of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

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Some of the surviving forced labour victims and the bereaved families have filed a total of 14 cases against Mitsubishi and other Japanese firms, which committed war crimes against humanity during the Pacific War.

Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced or deceived into labour and sexual slavery before and during the devastating war. The Korean Peninsula was colonised by Imperial Japan from 1910 to 1945.

Japan has claimed all colonial-era issues were resolved through the 1965 treaty that normalised diplomatic relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

The South Korean court, however, said it would be difficult to see the 1965 treaty include individual rights to damages, ordering the Japanese company to pay war crime compensation to the victims.

(1 South Korean won $0.00089).

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