WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down appeals from four people demanding compensation from Japanese companies for being forced to work as slave laborers during World War II.
The top court’s denial of the appeals effectively puts an end to other similar lawsuits filed against Japanese companies under a 1999 California state law that gave former prisoners of war the right to file lawsuits over their suffering.
The Supreme Court action covered four separate lawsuits filed by U.S., Chinese, Korean and Filipino nationals against Mitsui & Co., Nippon Steel Corp., Kajima Corp. and Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha Ltd.
A Supreme Court spokesman said the court, without any comment, rejected the appeals and upheld an earlier appeals court ruling that treaties signed by the United States barred the plaintiffs from bringing the lawsuits.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco said federal power to make foreign policy overrides the 1999 California state law.
Under the law, the statute of limitations was extended until 2010, allowing both foreign and American plaintiffs to file damages suits against Japanese and German companies as long as they operated in California.
Japan has rejected compensation demands from former POWs, arguing that all war claims were settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty.
The U.S. federal government has supported this position.
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