The government on Wednesday appealed a landmark ruling last week that ordered it and a harbor transport company to jointly pay 88 million yen in compensation to Chinese who served as slave-laborers in Japan during World War II.

The government appealed to the Tokyo High Court against Friday’s ruling by the Niigata District Court, which declared that the state’s argument that laws at the time exempted it from compensation demands were inappropriate from the standpoint of justice and fairness.

It was the first time for a Japanese court to order the government to pay compensation for wartime slave labor.

The Niigata-based company, Rinko Corp., has already appealed the ruling to the Tokyo High Court.

Twelve plaintiffs — 10 former laborers who were forced to work at Niigata port during the war and two relatives of a deceased laborer — demanded 275 million yen in redress, claiming that being forcibly taken from China to Japan was “an illegal act conducted jointly by Japan and the company.”

The ruling said the laborers were forcibly brought from China to Japan in 1944 and made to perform tasks such as carrying coal at Niigata port.

They received little food, were abused and were not paid, it said.

Pension ruling appeal

The welfare ministry said Wednesday the government will appeal a court ruling ordering it to pay 15 million yen in compensation for failing to take relief measures for three of four disabled plaintiffs denied access to pension benefits.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is arranging procedures with the Justice Ministry and other concerns after the Tokyo District Court admitted the state’s “legislative failure” in its March 24 ruling.

The ruling “stretches the meaning of ‘legislative failure’ and conflicts with a Supreme Court ruling in the past,” a senior health ministry official said.

Chikara Sakaguchi, minister of health, labor and welfare, told reporters the government will make a final decision after meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

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