• The Associated Press

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The Supreme Court has rejected appeals by dozens of Chinese seeking compensation for being forced into slave labor during World War II, another court loss for victims of Japan’s wartime aggression, their lawyer said Saturday.

The 42 former Chinese laborers — only about half of whom are still alive — had sought 847 million yen in damages from the government and 10 firms they worked for during the war. The lawsuit was originally filed in 1997.

Toru Takahashi, a lawyer for the victims, said the court issued “a decision to reject the appeal” Friday, but he had no other details.

The case was dismissed in June 2006 by the Tokyo High Court, which ruled that the 42 plaintiffs could not seek compensation because the 20-year statute of limitations had expired, and that decision is now final, Takahashi said.

The case had been filed against the government and the 10 companies, including major contractors and mining operators Hazama Corp., Furukawa Co., Nishimatsu Construction, Ube Industries, Dowa Mining, Nittetsu Mining, Mitsubishi Materials Corp. and Japan Energy Corp.

The suit was the second within days dismissed by the Supreme Court against victims of Japan’s World War II brutality.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court — also citing the statute of limitations — rejected appeals by six Chinese demanding 110 million yen in compensation for forcing them into slave labor at nickel mines in Kyoto. The court also said the current government was not responsible for the wrongdoings of leaders who followed the wartime Constitution. In April, the Supreme Court ruled that individual Chinese citizens lost their right to seek redress from Japan with the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communique, in which Beijing abandoned its right to claim war reparations from Japan. Critics argue the communique only affects the government, not individuals.

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