Supreme Court orders Japanese firm to compensate victims of wartime forced labor
Nov. 3, 2018
By Kim Eun-young and Kim Young Shin
Korea’s top court on Oct. 30 ruled that the Japanese firm Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSM) to compensate the Korean victims of forced labor and unpaid work during the World War Ⅱ.
The Supreme Court ordered NSSM to pay each of the four plaintiff KRW 100 million. The workers initiated the damage suit in 2005.
From 1939 to 1945, which was during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), there were 1.46 million Koreans forced to work at coal mines and munition factories.
The top court found that NSSM has the legal responsibility for the damages caused by the crimes against humanity directly connected to the unlawful Japanese colonial rule. The court dismissed the company’s claim that it is not responsible for the damage as victim’s right to claim damages has expired, stating “it is an abuse of right against the principle of good faith.”
It also ruled that 1965 claims agreement between Korea and Japan does not terminate the individual victims’ rights to claim damages “because the agreement was to dissolve the financial and civil debt between the two countries and did not include the victims’ right to demand compensation.”
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon announced a statement after the court’s ruling that says, “The government respects the judicial ruling and will prepare the government’s response regarding the matter after consultation with relevant authorities and civilian experts.”