Japan builder to compensate Chinese WWII workers, report says

CNN.com, 29 November 2000, web posted at: 12:40 p.m. HKT (0440 GMT)

TOKYO (Reuters)—Japan's biggest construction firm Kajima Corp will set up a fund to compensate Chinese laborers who were forced to work for the company during World War II, domestic media said on Wednesday.

The plan, which the company said had not been decided yet, will be offered later in the day in Tokyo's High Court to a group of Chinese workers who filed a case against Kajima in 1995, the daily Mainichi Shimbun said.

The workers are seeking compensation for harsh conditions which led to a riot in which five people were killed at Kajima's worksite in northern Japan.

Of some 1,000 Chinese workers were brought over to work at the site in 1944, 418 had died by the end of 1945.

Thousands of Korean and Chinese laborers were brought to Japan before and during the war and forced to work in factories and mines for little or no pay as Japan desperately tried to keep its war machine going.

In recent years, a rising number of lawsuits have been brought against the government and individual companies by wartime laborers and prisoners, but with little success.

In July, Japanese machine tool manufacturer Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp agreed to pay 30 million yen ($272,500) to 40 million yen in compensation to three Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during World War II, the first settlement brokered by Japan's Supreme Court over wartime forced labor.