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Japanese firm denies obligation to compensate forced laborers

All Headlines 16:47 March 09, 2016

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- A Japanese firm is not liable to compensate five South Koreans who were forced to work for it when the country was under colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century, the company's legal representatives said in a court hearing Wednesday.

Fujikoshi Corp. has been cited for mobilizing some 1,000 Korean girls aged 13-15 as forced laborers at munitions factories during World War II.

The plaintiffs filed the suit with the Seoul Central District Court, seeking 500 million won (US$410,000) in compensation.

The Japanese company stressed that all issues regarding Japan's colonial rule (1910-1945) over the Korean Peninsula were covered by the 1965 normalization treaty, adding that even if not, the statute of limitations has run out.

It also said the case should be under Japanese legal jurisdiction as all relevant evidence and issues are closely related to Japan.

Previously, the same court ruled in favor of 13 other victims and their families, seeking compensation, ordering the Japanese company to pay some 80 million won to 100 million won per person.

A dozen similar cases are pending at local courts across the country. Despite several cases ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, no Japanese firm has yet given compensation.

The issue of forced labor is becoming increasingly urgent as most surviving victims are well over 80 years old and may die before they receive compensation or an apology from the Japanese firms that used them.

It is unclear how many people were mobilized for forced labor and died. Some civic groups claim the number of conscripts goes up to a million or more.

The next hearing is slated for May 11.

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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