Korean court or­ders Mit­subishi to pay for forced la­bor in WWII

Star-Telegram - - Nation & World - BY CHOE SANG-HUN

South Korea’s Supreme Court on Thurs­day or­dered Mit­subishi Heavy In­dus­tries of Ja­pan to com­pen­sate South Kore­ans forced to work in its fac­to­ries dur­ing World War II, the se­cond such rul­ing in a month that has be­dev­iled re­la­tions be­tween the two key U.S. al­lies in Asia.

The top court up­held a lower-court rul­ing that or­dered Mit­subishi to pay five women 100 mil­lion won to 150 mil­lion won, or about $89,000 to $133,000, each. In a sep­a­rate rul­ing Thurs­day, the court also or­dered Mit­subishi to pay 80 mil­lion won to each of six men who said they were sub­ject to forced la­bor at a Mit­subishi ship­yard and ma­chine tool fac­tory in 1944.

Korea was a Ja­pa­nese colony from 1910 un­til Ja­pan’s 1945 sur­ren­der in World War II.

The rul­ings Thurs­day have been ex­pected since the Supreme Court is­sued a land­mark ver­dict Oct. 30 find­ing Ja­pan’s Nip­pon Steel & Su­mit­omo Metal guilty of ex­ploit­ing forced la­bor dur­ing Ja­pan’s colo­nial rule. In that case, the court or­dered the com­pany to pay $88,700 in com­pen­sa­tion to each of four South Korean vic­tims.

Ja­pan in­sists that all mat­ters con­cern­ing al­le­ga­tions of forced la­bor were set­tled un­der agree­ments that es­tab­lished bi­lat­eral diplo­matic ties in 1965. In its Oc­to­ber ver­dict, how­ever, the South Korean Supreme Court ruled for the first time that those deals should not im­pede in­di­vid­ual vic­tims’ rights to seek re­dress. It reaf­firmed its opin­ion through its de­ci­sions Thurs­day.

If a Ja­pa­nese com­pany con­victed in the South Korean court re­fuses to pay the com­pen­sa­tion, the plain­tiffs and their fam­i­lies could ask lo­cal courts to seize the com­pany’s as­sets in South Korea.

Mit­subishi called the ver­dict “deeply re­gret­table.” Ja­pan’s for­eign min­is­ter, Taro Kono, quickly is­sued a state­ment call­ing the court’s de­ci­sions “to­tally un­ac­cept­able.”

“This fun­da­men­tally over­turns the le­gal ba­sis for friendly ties be­tween Ja­pan and South Korea,” Kono said.

AHN YOUNG-JOON AP

Kim Sung-joo, bot­tom cen­ter, a vic­tim of Ja­pan’s forced la­bor, cel­e­brates out­side the Supreme Court in Seoul.

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