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S. Korean court upholds compensation ruling on wartime labor

  • January 23, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 3:32 p.m.
  • English Press

SEOUL — A South Korean appeals court upheld on Wednesday a lower court ruling ordering a Japanese machinery manufacturer to compensate a South Korean woman who was forced to work in a wartime munitions factory, the latest in a series of similar rulings against Japanese companies.


The Seoul Central District Court in March 2017 ordered Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp. to pay 100 million won ($89,000) to the plaintiff, Lee Chun Myon, for hardships she suffered while working at the company’s factory in Japan.


The Tokyo-based company appealed the ruling and the Seoul Central District Court, serving as an appeals court, issued its decision Wednesday.


The plaintiff claims in the lawsuit that in April 1944 she was taken to Japan from the Korean Peninsula, then under Japanese colonial rule, soon after graduating from elementary school.


Nachi-Fujikoshi is among several Japanese companies that South Korean courts have ordered to compensate people seeking redress for their wartime labor.


“I can’t feel happier,” Lee told reporters after Wednesday’s ruling, calling on Nachi-Fujikoshi to give more than 100 million won to each victim for the emotional hardship they have endured.


The South Korean Supreme Court in October ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to compensate a group of South Koreans forced into work.


On Friday, the Seoul High Court ruled against Nachi-Fujikoshi, upholding a lower court order that 13 South Korean women and the families of four who have died be compensated.


The Japanese firm expects one more appeals court decision this month.


The recent court decisions and subsequent developments, including a court’s approval of the seizure of assets held by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, have chilled ties between South Korea and Japan.


Tokyo contends that the compensation issue has been settled as part of a 1965 bilateral treaty that established diplomatic ties.


Seoul says it must respect decisions reached in South Korean courts as a matter of the separation of powers, cautioning Japanese leaders against politicizing the issue.

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