National / Crime & Legal

Pacific War damages appeal by Okinawa residents rejected by Supreme Court

JIJI

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by families of local residents affected by the Battle of Okinawa against lower court rulings that did not hold the state responsible for war damages.

The decision was made Tuesday.

It was the first lawsuit filed by local citizens for state compensation over the fierce ground battle in Okinawa, fought between Japan and the U.S.-led Allied powers during the Pacific War during World War II, according to the attorneys.

The 36 plaintiffs had sought an apology from the state and payment of ¥11 million each in compensation. Their claim was that the acts of combat by the former Japanese military meant that the government had breached its duty to protect citizens.

In the first trial, in March 2016, the Naha District Court rejected the damages claims, saying no law that would allow the government to accept liability for damages regarding the exercise of public power existed under the Meiji Constitution, which was in force during the war.

This ruling was supported in the second trial at Fukuoka High Court’s Naha branch in November 2017.

People affected by U.S. air raids on Tokyo and Osaka during the Pacific War and the families of such victims have previously filed damages suits against the government, claiming that it has failed to help and compensate them, but they have been unsuccessful in court.