Japanese emigrants to the Dominican Republic decided to accept a government proposal to settle a court battle in which they sought compensation for hardships they endured after Tokyo duped them with false promises in a state-initiated emigration scheme in the late 1950s.
The plaintiffs reached the decision Thursday during a meeting in Santo Domingo to discuss Japan’s proposal.
The decision is expected to lead the plaintiffs to drop their claims in return for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressing apology to them and the government providing up to 2 million yen each to all 1,300 Japanese emigrants to the Caribbean island country, including the 170 plaintiffs, sources close to the plaintiffs said.
The money will be provided as “consolation payment,” but is de facto compensation, they said.
Koizumi is likely to meet representatives of the plaintiffs at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo on July 21 and offer a verbal apology, the sources said.
The government came up with the proposal after Koizumi ordered ministries to consider how to respond to the issue after a Tokyo District Court ruling in June held the government liable for its emigration scheme, in which it promised a paradise existence with fertile farmland, but neither materialized.
The court rejected, however, a damages claim by 170 emigrants and their kin, including those who have returned to Japan, saying their right to such a claim had expired. The plaintiffs appealed the case to the Tokyo High Court but have now decided to drop the case.
The government and the plaintiffs have been negotiating how to settle the issue ahead of a July 29 ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the emigrants’ settling in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic emigration scheme took place from 1956 to 1959, when Japan’s population had swollen due to repatriated civilians and returning soldiers from other parts of Asia after the war.
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