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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 August 14 - 20  > Ex-South Pacific island residents from Okinawa sue gov’t for war damages
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2013 August 14 - 20 [OKINAWA]

Ex-South Pacific island residents from Okinawa sue gov’t for war damages

August 16, 2013
Survivors and bereaved families of civilian victims of battles on South Pacific islands, such as Saipan, during WWII for the first time filed a lawsuit with the Naha District Court (Okinawa Pref.) on August 15, demanding that the state offer an apology and pay 11 million yen per plaintiff in compensation.

A group of 24 plaintiffs aged from 67 to 101 consists of former South Pacific island residents from Okinawa.

They said that they underwent various hardships: they lost many of their family members in U.S. bombings on the islands or with the sinking of Japanese evacuation ships; they suffered from diseases caused by malnutrition; they had to endure extreme hunger; and they had to witness the occasional murder of civilians by Japanese soldiers.

At a press conference after the filing, lawyer Zukeyama Shigeru, head of the plaintiffs’ counsel, pointed out, “Islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean were the first place where local people got involved in fighting between the Japanese and U.S. forces during the Asia-Pacific War.” He went on to say, “Their war injuries will never end unless the state, which should be held responsible for Japan’s past policies which triggered the war, apologizes and compensates them for damages.”

According to the plaintiffs, among 80,000 Okinawan people who immigrated to the South Pacific islands about 25,000 were killed in the Pacific War. After the war, the government paid compensation to bereaved families of 8,000 out of the 25,000 deceased people based on the law on compensation and assistance for war victims, while neglecting compensation for the remaining 17,000 victims.
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