• Kyodo

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Twenty Chinese men and 11 bereaved family members filed a suit Monday against the Japanese government and two major construction firms, seeking damages for being brought from China and forced to work during World War II in Gunma Prefecture.

The suit filed with the Maebashi District Court demands a total of 464.4 million yen as well as a published apology.

The two firms are Kajima Corp. and Hazama Corp. The Imperial Japanese Army sent the Chinese men to Gunma Prefecture from 1944 to 1945. There, they were forced to work in an aircraft factory and on power tunnel construction.

According to the suit, they were forced to work long hours and subjected to harsh conditions, including routine violence — from which some died — and were stripped of their identity by being referred to by numbers only. No wages were paid for their labor, according to the plaintiffs.

After they returned to China at the end the war, they continued to face suspicions that they were spies working for Japan, the suit said.

Kajima said it would decide what action to take after examining the suit, and Hazama and the Justice Ministry refused to comment because they hadn’t seen the details.

In April, the Fukuoka District Court ordered Mitsui Mining Co. to pay compensation to 15 Chinese men who were forced to work in coal mines in Fukuoka Prefecture during World War II.

The plaintiffs appealed the court ruling as it failed to find the state liable in the damages suit. Mitsui Mining has also filed an appeal against the ruling.

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