In a second wave of collective lawsuits, 612 Japanese who were separated from their parents in China at the end of World War II and lived for decades in Chinese foster homes sued the government Wednesday.
The plaintiffs claim the government failed to adopt an early program to bring them to Japan and failed to help those who later settled here.
The lawsuits, filed with the districts courts in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Hiroshima, are demanding a combined 20 billion yen in compensation, or some 33 million yen for each plaintiff.
The latest lawsuits brought the number of so-called war orphans who have sued the government to 1,262, more than half the number of war-displaced Japanese who have resettled in Japan.
Last December, 650 war orphans filed lawsuits against the government, demanding an apology and a better policy for supporting their livelihood.
The plaintiffs argued that the government failed to adopt a policy to bring Japanese living in Manchuria to Japan after the defeat in World War II, thus shutting the door on them.
They also accuse the government of failing to assist their resettlement even after Japan and China restored diplomatic relations in 1972.
The lawsuits say even after the war orphans resettled in Japan, the government did not provide enough support for their day-to-day living and thus violated their right to live as ordinary Japanese citizens.
During a march Wednesday from Shiba Park in Tokyo’s Minato Ward to Hibiya Park near the Tokyo District Court, plaintiffs and their supporters called for governmental redress.
Other groups of war orphans are planning more lawsuits in the coming months, with 249 people in Hokkaido, Osaka, Kochi and Tokushima prefectures planning suits against the government by the end of the year.
In addition, preparations for additional lawsuits are under way in Nagano, Hyogo, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori and Okinawa prefectures, bringing the plaintiff total to around 2,000.
According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, 2,468 war-displaced Japanese had permanently settled in Japan as of Aug. 31.
Ministry officials declined comment on Wednesday’s actions, saying they had not seen the suits.
The government defines “war orphans” as Japanese nationals under the age of 13 when they were separated from their parents or legal guardians in the chaotic days after the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in August 1945.
In 1994, the government enacted legislation to provide welfare assistance to the war-displaced, many of whom were not fluent in the Japanese language.
One of them is Fumio Haginoshita, 61, who resettled in Japan in August 1995.
Haginoshita, one of the plaintiffs in the latest round of lawsuits, said he still cannot speak Japanese adequately and has trouble keeping jobs.
“I thought I had returned to my roots, but the government is giving us the cold shoulder,” he said.
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