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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 31 - November 6  > Korean top court orders Japanese steelmaker to compensate ex-Korean forced laborers
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2018 October 31 - November 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Korean top court orders Japanese steelmaker to compensate ex-Korean forced laborers

October 31, 2018

The South Korean Supreme Court on October 30 ordered a Japanese steelmaker to pay compensation to former Korean laborers who had been forced to work in Japan as "drafted workers" during the Pacific War and Japan's military invasion of the Asia-Pacific region.

This is the first legal decision in South Korea that ordered a Japanese firm to compensate former Korean forced laborers.

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMC), formerly Nippon Steel, will have to pay 100 million won or about 10 million yen in compensation to each of four Korean plaintiffs (three already died after filing the suit).

In the trial, NSSMC argued that the war compensation issue had already been resolved by a 1965 agreement on the settlement of problems concerning property and claims signed between Japan and South Korea.

However, the top court in Seoul recognized that the individual's right to claim wartime damages is not invalid.

The court also judged that the plaintiffs' right to claim was exercised against Japanese companies' anti-humanitarian practices which had been directly linked to imperial Japan's unlawful colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula and wartime Japan's war of aggression. Therefore, the court pointed out, the plaintiffs' right to claim differs in its essence from what the 1965 bilateral agreement on wartime claims deals with.
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