Korean court rules in favor of forced laborers during Japanese coloniral rule in their compensation claims against Mitsubishi Heavy IndustriesUpdated: 2013-11-01 PM 11:02:42 (KST)
Korea's Gwangju District Court on Friday afternoon ruled in favor of five individuals who previously filed compensation claims against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The court ordered the Japanese firm to pay the victims of forced labor some 140-thousand U.S. dollars per person in damages.
The five women, mostly in their eighties, were forced to work for the company without pay for nearly a year and a half, in the mid-1940s right before Korea's liberation from Japan.
The victims were in their early teens at the time, a violation of the international human rights norms of the era.
The victims filed a compensation lawsuit against the Japanese government and Mitsubishi back in 1999 in a Japanese district court, only to have their case thrown out by Japan's Supreme Court in 2008.
At that time, the Japanese court said individual compensation claims had already been settled in Japan's reparations package of 8-hundred-million dollars to Korea in 1965, when the two countries restored diplomatic relations.
However, Korea's supreme court ruled last year, that the reparations deal does not preclude individuals from claiming damages.
So, 14 years after filing their compensation lawsuit against the Japanese firm, the five victims finally received a verdict in their favor.
This is the third case in which the victims of forced labor have won compensation claims against a Japanese firm in the Korean courts.
Earlier this year, the Seoul High Court ruled in favor of four other forced laborers, and ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation to pay the workers 100 million won, or about 94-thousand dollars each in wages and damages.
In the same month of July, the Busan High Court also ruled in favor of five other victims in their compensation claims.
The Korean government says an estimated 150-thousand Koreans were forced into labor between 1910 and 1945.
While many of them have already died, experts say at least 180 other victims of forced labor are also planning to file a compensation suit against Japanese firms in the future.
Park Ji-won, Arirang News.
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