Another 598 Japanese who were abandoned in China at the end of World War II will sue the government later this month, bringing the total number of plaintiffs seeking compensation to more than 1,200 — about half of the roughly 2,400 war-displaced orphans who have returned.
“The almost 600 war orphans, from the regions of Kanto, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Nagoya, will simultaneously file their suit Sept. 24,” Yukihiko Yasuhara, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told a news conference in Tokyo. “An additional 250 will soon join from Hokkaido, Osaka, Kochi and Tokushima, bringing the total to about 1,500 within this year.”
Yasuhara said such large-scale participation in such a short amount of time is unprecedented. The move demonstrates the anger and misery the plaintiffs feel, he said.
In December 2002, 629 war orphans filed a suit at the Tokyo District court, followed by 21 who did the same at the Kagoshima District court in August 2003. They are demanding payment of 33 million yen each from the government.
Yasuhara stressed that the plaintiffs are victims of Japan’s policy to “throw away” its own people after its surrender in World War II.
“At the end of the war, soldiers were made to return to Japan, but the general public living under the puppet government of Manchuria were ordered to settle in China,” he said. “The Japanese government did not take responsibility for its wartime actions, but these people had to live a life of apology, being the focus of Chinese anger toward the Japanese military.”
Another lawyer, Toshitaka Onodera, said the war orphans’ living conditions are rapidly deteriorating due to old age and the stagnant economy.
“The youngest among them is 58, and many are in their 60s and 70s,” he said. But their pension benefits are only a little more than 20,000 yen a month. Because they were the ones who quickly lost their jobs in the ongoing economic slump, 70 percent now live on welfare.