三菱マテ和解 形を変えた中国の揺さぶりか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Is China exerting new pressure on Japan in a different way via courts?
三菱マテ和解 形を変えた中国の揺さぶりか

It is feared that a new tendency of filing lawsuits against or seeking compensation from Japanese companies may spread in China.

A settlement has been reached regarding some Chinese who said they were forcibly taken to Japan as laborers during World War II and are demanding an apology and compensation from Mitsubishi Materials Corp., formerly Mitsubishi Mining Co.

Mitsubishi Materials has apologized to them, admitting its “historical responsibility” over the issue. The company will pay 100,000 yuan (about ¥1.7 million) to each.

With 3,765 Chinese people having worked at the company, the total scale of the settlement will be one of the largest ever for a Japanese company regarding wartime laborers alleged to have been forcibly taken to Japan.

The company probably opted to settle the issue to avoid the risk of prolonged litigation and paying a huge sum in compensation, and to give priority to expanding its business operations in China.

Japanese lawyers also were involved in the lawsuit on the Chinese side. About 39,000 Chinese people were said to have been forcibly taken to Japan as laborers and 35 Japanese companies were reportedly involved.

If Japanese companies are pressured one after another to bear huge expenses, it is highly likely there will be a further increase in Japanese companies hesitating to make investments in China.

In the Japan-China joint statement signed in 1972 to mark the normalization of bilateral relations, the Chinese government relinquished all reparation demands for damage related to the war. The Japanese government has consistently taken the standpoint that no reparation issue is pending between Japan and China.

But the Chinese government has unilaterally asserted that individual rights to claim damages were not settled by the joint statement.

Top court’s indiscretion

The Supreme Court turned down the Chinese plaintiffs’ claim for individual reparations in 2007, saying, “Under the Japan-China joint statement, individual Chinese cannot file reparation claims for war damage.”

On the other hand, the top court added that “it is hoped efforts would be made toward giving relief to the victims” by the companies concerned and others. This additional comment must be considered indiscreet. It may have affected the decision by Mitsubishi Materials.

The Chinese court, which is under the control of the Chinese Communist Party-led government, initially did not accept claims by individuals. China was believed to have attached importance to relations with Japan, as its economic development was helped by such assistance as yen loans.

A problem arose when a Beijing court accepted in March 2014 a suit filed against Mitsubishi Materials by some former Chinese laborers over forcible mobilization.

The administration of Xi Jinping apparently shifted its policy to intensify pressure on Japan, following such developments as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine. The Chinese government may expect, once again, that it can hold Japan in check over issues of historical perception by tacitly approving the latest settlement.

In South Korea, court battles continue over damages claims filed by former South Korean workers who say they were forcibly mobilized by the Japanese government during the war. The Japanese government should take precautions to ensure that neither China nor South Korea bring up again any issues that have already been settled legally.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 6, 2016)


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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