The British mother of two girls who lost their father in the world’s worst single plane crash in 1985, has expressed both confusion and hope over the family’s claim for official and direct compensation from Japan Airlines.
“There is some optimistic thought that there is room for negotiation,” Susanne Bayly, 43, told a news conference Friday in Tokyo. “However, if there isn’t a fair figure offered by the time we go back to London, we are going to take action within a month in a British court.”
Bayly also expressed confusion over their recent negotiations with JAL, as the family had initially intended Friday to announce either an amicable settlement or a lawsuit against JAL and Boeing Co.
Also present with her at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan were her daughters Diana Yukawa, 15, a violin prodigy, and Cassie Yukawa, 20. The three, who live in Britain, arrived in Japan on Wednesday on a weeklong trip.
“We have always said that a fair figure would be equal to what other children (of the victims) have received,” Bayly said, adding they have already spent all their savings on legal expenses.
She stopped short, however, of giving the exact amount they are seeking from JAL, only saying the figure is “reasonable” and “still a fraction of the compensation figure.”
Diana, who gave up the violin because of financial difficulties, said she hoped for “treatment as equals,” much like the other victims’ children.
“I don’t think we are asking for too much here,” said Diana, who in March 2000 was recognized by a British court as the biological daughter of Japanese businessman Akihisa Yukawa.
“At the end of the day, all we want is the amount of money that will take us through our education. No amount of money can ever compensate us for the emotional ordeal,” Cassie told reporters.
Bayly repeatedly stressed their claim for compensation and scholarship funds is about the need for the completion of her daughters’ education.
She said she only decided to ask for compensation after the death of the girls’ Japanese grandmother, whom Cassie described as their “last emotional link” and financial supporter.
The two sisters are British citizens born out of wedlock. Their 56-year-old father, who was an executive of a Sumitomo Bank affiliate, was married with two sons but had another family with Bayly.
JAL says it was unaware of the existence of Cassie and Diana until 1995, well after the statute of limitations for compensation claims in Japan.
In a statement released Friday, JAL said it is hard from a “legal perspective” to “offer any settlement amount in addition” to the money paid to Yukawa’s Japanese family.
Yukawa’s family received 150 million yen from JAL. The family gave Bayly and her two daughters 100 million yen, which according to the three is a separate amount from the JAL compensation.
Families of the crash victims have apparently been compensated based on the income and earning capacity of the victims.
“We (JAL) have given Cassie’s and Diana’s circumstances serious and sincere consideration and have offered a substantial sum, plus JAL education grants,” the statement read.
The family will be attending an anniversary memorial ceremony for JAL Flight 123 today. The Boeing 747, en route from Tokyo to Osaka, crashed on Aug. 12, 1985, on Mount Osutaka in Gunma Prefecture, killing all but four of the 524 people aboard.
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