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So. Korean court dismisses damages lawsuit against 16 Japanese companies by Korean forced labour victims

"Court rejects damages suit against Japanese firms by Korean forced labor victims", 7 Jun 2021

A local court on Monday dismissed a damages suit launched by 85 South Korean victims of wartime forced labor in Japan and their families against 16 Japanese companies, saying the plaintiffs don't have litigation rights.

The Seoul Central District Court said South Korean wartime forced laborers cannot claim individual legal rights to damages from Japan, while deciding to reject their collective suit.

The 85 forced labor victims and their families started their damages suit against 16 Japanese companies, including Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., Nissan Chemical Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., in 2015.

This case is the largest among many similar lawsuits filed by South Korean victims of wartime forced labor in Japan...

Dismissal is a decision made without any trial due to the absence of litigation requirements...

Referring to the 1965 agreement between Seoul and Tokyo on resolving colonial-era issues, the court said, "It cannot be said that individual claims are terminated or waived due to the Korea-Japan treaty. But it was decided that the individual rights cannot be exercised through lawsuits."

Japan has claimed that all colonial-era issues, including individual compensation, were resolved with the 1965 treaty.

The latest court ruling is in sharp contrast to an October 2018 ruling from the Supreme Court, which upheld an appeals court ruling in 2013 that ordered Nippon Steel to pay each of four Korean plaintiffs 100 million won (US$87,720) in compensation for their wartime forced labor and unpaid work.