The Tokyo High Court has upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed a lawsuit by 189 Koreans demanding that the government officially apologize and pay each of them between 30 million yen and 50 million yen in damages for their suffering after they were conscripted into the Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. Handing down the ruling Tuesday, Judge Koetsu Okuyama said the law limiting compensation to Japanese nationals — or their families — who were injured or killed is in line with the Constitution. During Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, Koreans were made Japanese citizens; their citizenship, however, was revoked in 1951 and they are now excluded from compensation other Japanese war veterans receive. Judge Okuyama said the government cannot be held responsible for not legislating a law to grant redress to the plaintiffs. Fourteen of the plaintiffs immediately appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. As well as survivors of the war, the group includes family members of Koreans killed during the conflict. “I believe the ruling is unjust,” said Lee Gum Ju, 79, head of the plaintiffs’ group. “The sorrow of Koreans whose relatives were drafted to serve in the war and lost their precious lives are beyond words.” Lee’s husband was drafted and died in action in the Gilbert Islands. Japan forced Koreans to serve in the Imperial forces during World War II, but refused to compensate them after the war because the law covering compensation only allows redress for Japanese.
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