OSAKA — Twelve Korean families facing eviction from the former wartime squatters community of Utoro in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, claimed Tuesday in their first oral appeal hearing that the real estate company that now owns the land should acknowledge their residential rights.

Osaka-based realtor Nishinihon Shokusan filed lawsuits in 1989 to have 68 Korean households evicted from the 2-hectare Utoro district, where they have lived for over 50 years. In January and February, the Kyoto District Court ordered their eviction. The Korean families appealed the decision with the Osaka High Court, and according to their court documents, the eviction infringes on their rights as inhabitants while the real estate firm’s purchase of the land is invalid.

During the war, the central government ordered a corporation that then owned the land to build an airfield, and Koreans were taken there to build it. The firm became a Nissan Motor group subsidiary, changing its name to Nissan Shatai Co. In 1987, it sold the property to a resident of the district who promised to sell the land to other dwellers there. However, the buyer sold the land to Nishinihon Shokusan and disappeared the same year.

Kim Song Gun, one of the appellants, said he hopes the high court will examine the case from not only legal, but also social and historical perspectives.

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