Supreme Court rules Mitsubishi must compensate forced labor victims

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Supreme Court rules Mitsubishi must compensate forced labor victims

Korea’s top court upheld lower court rulings on Thursday and ordered Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during World War II.

The Supreme Court ruled on two cases against Mitsubishi that day and upheld appellate court decisions in favor of the victims of forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule over Korea, which lasted from 1910 to 1945.

In the first ruling, it ordered the company to pay 100 to 150 million won ($89,250 to $133,900) each to five women forced to work in the company’s plants in Nagoya, Japan. One victim has died, so her family is to be compensated instead.

In the second case, the court ordered the company to pay 80 million won to each of a group of 23 victims forced to work at Mitsubishi’s plants and shipyards in Hiroshima or their families.

The decision is similar to a Supreme Court ruling on Oct. 30, which ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to compensate Korean victims by concluding that the individuals’ right to file claims for damages has not expired.

This countered Tokyo’s claims that the 1965 agreement normalizing bilateral relations with Seoul settled all compensation matters.
Tokyo immediately protested the Korean court ruling, as it had after the Oct. 30 decision. Japanese Foreign Minister Kono Taro on Thursday called the decision “unacceptable” and called for Seoul to take an “appropriate measure,” warning that Japan may consider other options, including international arbitration.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries issued a statement calling the ruling “extremely regrettable” and a violation of the 1965 bilateral agreement.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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