China war laborers sue for redress

JIJI

Chinese who were forced to work in Mitsubishi mines in Japan during the war sought an apology and damages from the central government Monday.

A group of more than 10 people, namely former laborers at the mines and other facilities run by then-Mitsubishi Mining Co. and relatives of deceased forced laborers, visited the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and handed a request for the apology and the damages that was addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On Tuesday, the group will visit the Shanghai office of Mitsubishi Materials Corp., the firm’s successor, to request the start of negotiations to seek the firm’s apology and a reparation payment of 100,000 yuan (¥1.65 million) per person.

Mitsubishi Materials says it does not intend to resolve the issue without the involvement of the Japanese government because Chinese laborers were forced to work at the mines under a national policy.

Speaking to the press, Zhang Shijie, 89, who was held in China and sent to a mine in Nagasaki Prefecture, said he wants to see the issue resolved for the sake of the two nations’ friendship.

Chinese laborers forced to work in Japan during the war have lost suits in Japan. But in 2009, Nishimatsu Construction Co., one of the defendants, apologized and agreed to set up a fund for former laborers.

Against Mitsubishi Materials, former Chinese laborers filed multiple suits because they were forced to work at different places across Japan. But this time, they formed the group so they can negotiate with the firm collectively.