Redress was sought for ’83 KAL jet downing

Kyodo

Japan drew up a claim in 1986 for just over ¥3.4 billion in damages from the Soviet Union for the 28 Japanese killed in the 1983 shoot-down of Korean Air Flight 007 over Soviet airspace, recently disclosed Foreign Ministry documents reveal.

But the victims’ relatives had no knowledge of the claim, which was apparently rejected by Moscow, said key members of a group representing them.

The ministry says it has found no record to clarify whether Tokyo lodged the claim with Moscow. But a former ministry official who was in charge of the issue at the time said, “I believe we did lodge a claim through the Soviet Embassy in Japan or (in) Moscow.”

A note verbale — a kind of formal diplomatic document — dated Dec. 19, 1986, and bearing the seal of the Foreign Ministry, and another document on the claim were disclosed by the ministry in response to a right-to-know request by Kyodo News.

“The Japanese government demands ¥3.43 billion regarding damage caused to Japanese passengers and property and costs related to search and rescue activities as a result of the Soviet Union’s unlawful act,” the note verbale reads.

There is also handwriting on the bottom of the note saying the message was addressed to the Soviet Union, the United States, South Korea, Britain, Canada and the Philippines.

The other document provides a breakdown of the claim — ¥3.08 billion in damages for the loss of 28 Japanese passengers and the pain and suffering caused, and ¥350 million for costs related to the search and rescue exercise.

It also says the breakdown shall not be shown in response to any external inquiries, including from the Soviet Union and the Diet.