個人賠償請求 訴え受理なら日中関係損なう

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 28, 2014
Chinese damages suit against Japan firms threatening to harm bilateral ties
個人賠償請求 訴え受理なら日中関係損なう(2月28日付・読売社説)

A damages suit filed with a Beijing court may shake the very foundation of Japan-China relations, depending on how it is handled. The Chinese administration of President Xi Jinping should deal with the issue with an eye on future bilateral relations.

The suit was filed against two Japanese businesses by former Chinese workers and others who called for an apology and compensation, claiming they were forcibly brought to Japan in wartime and made to work under severe labor conditions.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized the Japanese government’s position on the matter, saying, “There is no reparation issue left pending between Japan and China, including those concerning individual demands for reparation.”

In the Japan-China joint statement signed in 1972 to mark the normalization of bilateral relations, the Chinese government declared its relinquishment of reparation demands for damage related to the war.

In a case filed in Japan by Chinese people and others for individual reparations, the Supreme Court turned down the plaintiffs’ claim in 2007, saying, “Due to the Japan-China joint statement, individual Chinese are unable to file reparation claims for war damage.” This can be judged as an appropriate decision.

The key point is whether the lawsuit will be accepted by the Chinese court, which is under the control of the Chinese Communist Party-led government. If accepted, it will become the first Chinese reparation case against a Japanese company over alleged forced relocation and labor.

Detrimental factors

The Chinese government holds the position that individual rights to claim damages are not included in the joint statement. But, in fact, no such a claim has been accepted by a Chinese court.

Behind this could be the fact that China attached importance to relations with Japan, which sustained its economic development with various kinds of assistance, including the provision of a huge amount of yen credit.

There must have been wariness on the part of China’s leadership that if one court battle over a historical incident was accepted, it could ignite large anti-Japan rallies and invite public criticism that the government was weak regarding Japan.

But the situation today is different from what it was before. The bilateral relationship has worsened to such an extent that top leaders of the two countries cannot hold a summit meeting. The Xi administration has been intensifying its anti-Japan propaganda campaign over the issue of history since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine in late December.

If the Xi administration changes tack and the court accepts the damages suit, the bilateral relationship will deteriorate more seriously.

If that happens, it is impossible to anticipate how many more individual claims will be filed against Japanese firms. Beijing claims that about 40,000 Chinese were forced to work in Japan in wartime.

Due to concern about Chinese downside risks, bilateral trade, investments and tourism could cool off.

Court battles over damages claim filed by former South Korean forced workers and the Chinese suit over forced labor can be taken by Japan as basically in the same paradigm.

The Japanese government should support the firms against which damages claim was filed. To China, South Korea and the international community, Tokyo must strongly argue the invalidity of rekindling issues that have already been settled legally.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 28, 2014)
(2014年2月28日01時21分 読売新聞)


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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