GWANGJU, Aug. 11 (Korea Bizwire) – A South Korean court on Friday ordered Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay four Korean victims of wartime forced labor between 100 million won (US$87,413) to 150 million won each in compensation.
It is the second time this week that the Gwangju District Court has ruled in favor of forced labor victims in damages suits against Mitsubishi. On Tuesday, the same court also ordered the Japanese firm to pay compensation to two victims.
In Friday’s decision, the court ordered Mitsubishi to pay 150 million won to Oh Cheol-seok, a brother of late victim Oh Kil-ae; 120 million won to 87-year-old victim Kim Jae-rim; and 100 million won each to two other victims — Yang Young-soo, 86, and Shim Sun-ae, 87.
The four plaintiffs raised the suit in February 2014, demanding 150 million won each.
“Mitsubish Heavy Industries’ mobilization of the plaintiffs for forced labor to produce war supplies is an inhumane and illegal act,” the court said. “As it is clear that the plaintiffs suffered severe psychological pain from this act, Mitsubish Heavy Industries has a responbility to compensate for this.”
The court also rejected Mitsubishi’s claims, in line with its government’s position, that individual rights to damages were covered by the 1965 treaty between Seoul and Tokyo on resolving colonial-era issues.
“It is difficult to see that rights to seek damages for inhumane and illegal acts were included” in the treaty, the court said.
Mitsubishi is expected to appeal the decision.
Mitsubishi is one of the most representative Japanese firms involved in forced labor during the war. The company is also featured in a recently released South Korean box-office hit, “The Battleship Island,” which tells the story of hundreds of Korean forced laborers who risk their lives to escape.
Victims have claimed that they were deceived into moving to Japan and forced to toil without pay. It was when Korea was under Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule. Japan also mobilized as many as 200,000 Asian women, mostly Koreans, as sex slaves for its troops during World War II.