Korean war laborers sue for apology, 60 million yen

NAGASAKI — Two South Korean women on April 14 filed a lawsuit with the Shizuoka District Court demanding that an official apology and restitution totaling 60 million yen be made by the central government for forcing them to labor at a Shizuoka Prefecture yarn factory during World War II.

The suit says Tsao Chia Shun and Yu Chen Shun, both 67, were conscripted into a volunteer corps on the Korean Peninsula in 1944, when both were 14 years old. Until they were freed after Japan surrendered and the war ended, the girls had been forced to work at a jute yarn spinning factory in the city of Numazu. The plant belonged to Tokyo Jute Yarn Spinning Co., which was taken over by Teijin in 1991.

A group of 19 attorneys for the plaintiffs claims that the members of the women volunteer corps were threatened or cajoled into joining, even though they ostensibly volunteered. Yu claimed that she volunteered to be a conscript for the corps because a military officer had promised that she would be allowed to go to Japan to study. Tsao said she joined the corps because the Japanese policemen threatened that if she refused, the military would draft her eldest son into the Imperial Japanese army.

At the factory, the plaintiffs ate poorly and were forced to work about 12 hours a day from early morning, the suit says. Later, the plant was destroyed during an air raid and the war ended, but the girls worked at another factory.

They were given 10 yen following their voyage home and told they would receive their wages later, the suit says. But the plaintiffs did not receive any wages, it says.