Kajima faces Chinese lawsuit over WWII forced labour claim

Chinese workers who were used as slave labour during the Second World War have filed a lawsuit against Japanese contractor Kajima, it was reported on Tuesday.

Lawyers representing one surviving labourer and the families of four who are deceased filed the lawsuit at the Third Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing on Tuesday. The victims’ are demanding that Kajima publish an apology in national Chinese and Japanese newspapers in two languages, and pay 1 million yuan ($150,000) in compensation for each forced labourer.

The court will now rule on whether the case can be heard. A similar case was brought against Kajima in Japan in 2002, but the court found in favour of the company in 2011.

Zou Qianglun, one of the lawyers involved in the case, told the Global Times: "We are still looking for other plaintiffs in central and northern China to add to the list. As time goes by, our search for surviving labourers becomes more difficult."

The workers claim they were forced to work at military facilities in Gunma and Nagano prefectures in central Japan.

Ma Bao’en, 58, son of a deceased labourer, said his father insisted his children carry on with the lawsuit when he passed away.

Kajima’s wartime predecessor, Kajima-gumi, forced 1,888 Chinese labourers to work as slaves between May 1944 and May 1945. If these, 539 were tortured to death, according to a statement released by the lawyers for the group.

In 2000, Kajima reached a settlement with another group of former labourers and established a victims’ compensation fund over the Hanaoka Incident, in which many Chinese nationals lost their lives at a mine in northern Japan.

In another forced-labor claim, Mitsubishi Materials in June signed a compensation agreement with most of the labourers forced to work for its predecessor during World War II. Under the agreement, the company agreed to pay 100,000 yuan ($15,000) to each victim.

Image: The Second Sino-Japanese War was fought between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from 1937 to 1945. Here, Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces are photographed in the Battle of Shanghai, 1937 (Creative Commons)

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