The Supreme Court on Friday upheld two rulings that overturned demands by two South Koreans for Japan to compensate them for injuries they sustained while serving in the Imperial Japanese Army during the war.
The decision follows a similar ruling by the nation’s top court in a separate case on April 5.
At issue in all three cases was the constitutionality of a 1952 law that excludes Korean residents in Japan from entitlement to war disability pensions.
Justice Toshifumi Motohara, who presided over the court’s No. 3 Petty Bench, said Friday it is not unconstitutional that the current disability pension scheme does not cover South Korean permanent residents in Japan who served in the army in the war.
The rulings were handed down to the relatives of Chong Sang Gun, a Higashi-Osaka resident who died in 1996 at age 74 as his case was pending, and Kang Bu Jung, 80, from Shiga Prefecture.
Chong claimed he lost his right arm in a 1943 U.S. air raid on the Marshall Islands, and filed the suit in 1991 with the Osaka District Court. Kang lost four fingers of his right hand in the Solomon Islands, and sued the Japanese government in 1993 in the Otsu District Court.
The two district courts overturned the lawsuits in 1995 and 1997. After both plaintiffs appealed, the Osaka High Court separately dismissed them in 1999.
Chong died of liver cancer before the high court ruling was handed down. His wife and son, who currently live in South Korea, took over the suit.
The Diet passed a law last year to offer condolence money for foreign nationals who died or suffered injury while serving in the Japanese military upon the recommendation of the Tokyo High Court in September 1998.
Kang told a news conference after the Supreme Court ruling that he could not stand the fact that he had become a war victim by suffering an injury on the battlefields that led to disability.
“I cannot stop shaking after hearing the ruling,” he said.
An attorney representing the family of Chong expressed anger at the top court’s interpretation of the Constitution.
“The ruling stated that the Constitution ‘does not provide for compensation of foreign residents in Japan who were former servicemen,’ and uses the pacifist Constitution as a reason to not compensate. I feel anger that this is something that the judiciary does,” he said.
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