National / Crime & Legal

Korean court orders Toyama munitions firm to compensate women tricked into wartime labor

Kyodo

A South Korean court on Thursday ordered Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp. to compensate all of the Korean women forced to work at the machinery maker in Japan during the war with payments of 80 million to 100 million won (¥830,000 to ¥1 million) each.

The Seoul Central District Court delivered the ruling to 13 victims of forced labor and the relatives of four now-deceased victims. The plaintiffs said they were deceived into going to study in the city of Toyama, where the company is based, but were instead forced to perform manual labor without sufficient food and sleep.

Fujikoshi was established as a munitions factory in 1928. It employed 1,089 girls between the ages of 13 and 16 as Labor Corps workers from the Korean Peninsula, following two rounds of recruitment in 1944 and 1945, according to reports.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit with the court last year. But they also filed a similar lawsuit with the Toyama District Court in 2003, demanding that the state and company pay back about ¥115 million in unpaid wages and damages.

The court acknowledged that the women were brought to Japan from the Korean Peninsula under false pretenses and forced to work during the war, but the Japanese Supreme Court dismissed the case in 2011 on the grounds that the plaintiffs lost their right to demand recompense under the 1965 compensation rights treaty signed between Japan and South Korea.

The latest ruling is one of four such rulings, including those against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metals Corp.

The rulings have been delivered amid strained relations between Seoul and Tokyo over a territorial dispute and different interpretations of wartime history.

The rulings in favor of the plaintiffs were issued after South Korea’s Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in May 2012, noting that the 1965 treaty cannot prevent individuals from seeking compensation from Japan.

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