Japanese court rejects yet another suit to compensate war slaves

A court in western Japan Tuesday rejected demands for compensation of about 200 million yen (US$1.69 million; EUR 1.27 million) by a group of Chinese forced to work as slave laborers at Japanese mines during World War II, a court official said.

The Nagasaki District court dismissed the suit seeking damages from the Japanese government and Mitsubishi Materials Corp., previously Mitsubishi Mining Co. that operated the mines during World War II, said court spokesman Michiharu Kawasaki.

The verdict comes a day after another Japanese district court threw out similar demands for compensation by another group of Chinese slave laborers.

While it was a "criminal act" for Japan to forcibly bring the Chinese into the country during wartime, Nagasaki court judge Naoyuki Tagawa said the deadline for filing compensation claims - 20 years under Japanese law - had expired, according to Kyodo News agency.

The suit was filed by a group of six Chinese men who said they were among some 1,000 people, mostly from China's Hebei province, who were forcibly brought to work in three mines in Nagasaki prefecture (state) during the war, the AP reports.

Relatives of four other laborers, including two men who were arrested at the time for violating public laws and later died at a Nagasaki prison, also joined the suit, Kyodo said.

Japan's military shipped up to 800,000 people from China, Korea and other Asian countries to work in coal mines and ports in the early 1900s. Hundreds of thousands of others were forced into military service or sexual slavery for Japanese troops.

Tokyo has generally refused to pay damages to individuals, saying the issue was settled on a government-to-government basis in postwar treaties. The stance has drawn accusations at home and abroad that Japan remains unrepentant for its wartime wrongs.

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