Crime & Justice

Court dismisses South Korean slave labour lawsuit against Japanese companies

Seoul, Jun 7 (EFE).- A Seoul court dismissed Monday a lawsuit filed by 85 South Korean citizens demanding compensation for their slave labour during World War II to 16 Japanese companies.

The Seoul Central District court deemed the plaintiffs had no legal right to sue the Japanese companies, which include heavyweights such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, and Nissan Chemical.

The 85 victims and their family members first considered the class-action lawsuit in 2015, becoming the most significant legal action filed in South Korea against Japanese companies.

The justices took into consideration the 1965 treaty signed to normalize relations between South Korea and Japan.

This treaty comprised reparations by Japan worth $365 million in nominal terms, as compensation for Japan’s colonial control over the Korean peninsula in 1950-1965 that resulted in an estimated one million dead, injured, and slaved victims of Japanese imperialism.

Tokyo claims the agreement settled the human rights violations committed during that period.

The court argued the 1965 treaty does not revoke the rights of the plaintiffs to receive compensation, but it does mean that their individual rights cannot be exercised through a lawsuit.

It also stated that allowing the lawsuit to proceed could result in a violation of international law.

The decision clashes with the October 2018 Korean Supreme Court ruling, which ordered Nippon Steel to pay compensation worth 100 million South Korean won ($89,915) to various plaintiffs.

The 2018 ruling set off a Japanese commercial boycott against South Korea, which retaliated with the same tactics.

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