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Three key Chinese groups accept Mitsubishi forced labor redress proposal

Kyodo

All three Chinese groups negotiating compensation with Mitsubishi Materials Corp. over the Japanese company’s use of forced labor during World War II have accepted the firm’s settlement proposal, the groups said Friday.

As the victims and bereaved families have “already agreed to the basic content” of the proposal, it is “a matter of time” for the parties to sign their reconciliation agreement, they said.

Mitsubishi Materials has offered to apologize and pay compensation of 100,000 yuan (about $16,000 or ¥1.9 million) for each of the 3,765 victims, the largest number of people to be given postwar compensation by a Japanese company.

One of the groups said Monday that it will accept the settlement proposal, while the remaining two groups followed suit on Friday. The three groups represent a majority of the victims.

This is the first time that a Japanese firm has decided to apologize and pay monetary compensation to Chinese war victims in relation to a case that has been rejected by Japan’s top court.

Mitsubishi Materials has admitted that its predecessor, Mitsubishi Mining Co., and subcontractors accepted 3,765 Chinese people as forced laborers and infringed on their human rights, sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations said earlier.

The victims were part of about 39,000 Chinese people who were brought to Japan against their will between 1943 and 1945, in line with a Japanese government decision to address growing labor shortages in places such as coal mines and construction sites.

Of those, 6,830 died due to harsh labor and living conditions. Starting in the 1990s, Chinese survivors of forced labor and their families filed a series of compensation lawsuits against the Japanese government and companies.

But Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that Chinese individuals have no right to demand wartime compensation as it was renounced under a 1972 joint communique issued when Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations were normalized.