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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will express regret to emigrants to the Dominican Republic in the 1950s and the government will pay about 1,300 people several million yen for the hardships they suffered under the program that sent them there, government officials said Tuesday.

The government also is considering proposing comprehensive support, including providing some hundreds of millions of yen to Japanese emigrant associations in the Dominican Republic, the officials said.

The moves are part of a government effort to settle a damages suit filed by 170 emigrants and their relatives.

The Tokyo District Court in June recognized the government’s liability in making promises it did not keep about settling in the Dominican Republic, but it rejected the plaintiffs’ claim for compensation, saying that right had expired.

The plaintiffs have appealed to the Tokyo High Court.

The government is hoping that the people who have filed suits — demanding between 10 million yen and 30 million yen each in compensation — will drop their claims.

A number of damages suits were filed by 177 plaintiffs against the government between 2000 and 2001.

The officials said, however, it isn’t clear if the plaintiffs will drop their cases as they have a deep mistrust of the government, the officials said.

The government plans to arrange a meeting between Koizumi and representatives of the emigrants before a July 29 ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of Japanese emigration to the Dominican Republic.

The ceremony is to be held in Santo Domingo.

The Dominican Republic emigration program took place from 1956 to 1959 to help deal with a sudden increase in Japan’s population, swollen with repatriated civilians and returning soldiers at the end of the war.

The Japanese were promised they would be given fertile land, but many were denied ownership and much of the land was not suitable for farming.

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