• Kyodo

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South Koreans seeking compensation and an apology from the Japanese government for the 1945 sinking of a ship in which more than 500 Korean forced laborers died appealed Friday to the Supreme Court over a lower court’s recent decision to reject their claim.

Eighty South Koreans — relatives of those killed or survivors of the incident, in which a Japanese naval vessel capsized following an explosion just after the end of World War II — are demanding a total of 2.8 billion yen in damages.

In August 2001, the Kyoto District Court ordered the government to pay 45 million yen to 15 of the 80 plaintiffs. But on May 30, the Osaka High Court overturned the district court decision and rejected all claims.

The high court dismissed the earlier ruling that the government had failed in its responsibility to transport the passengers safely and rejected the compensation claims. Under the former Constitution, individuals cannot be compensated for illegal government behavior, the ruling said.

It called the plaintiffs’ suffering the “sacrifices of war,” which cannot be compensated.

The explosion occurred Aug. 24, 1945, as the Imperial Japanese Navy transport ship Ukishima Maru was entering Kyoto Prefecture’s Maizuru port on its way to the Korean Peninsula from Aomori Prefecture.

The ship capsized after the explosion, killing 524 Koreans who were returning home after having been forced to work at military facilities in Aomori Prefecture, as well as their families.

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