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Mitsubishi Material Corp. thought it had a deal with more than 3,700 Chinese wartime labourers by offering a “sincere apology” along with compensation in a proposed out-of-court settlement – until lawyers representing the labourers said no.
Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported last Thursday Mitsubishi will apologise and pay compensation of RMB 10,000 to each Chinese citizen who was forced into hard labour in the company’s wartime mines.
A day after such reports however, the World War II Chinese labour claims lawyers’ group issued a statement last Friday saying the reports by Japanese media were false and the group had ceased negotiation with Mitsubishi earlier in the year.
The statement also condemned Mitsubishi for being insincere with its apology.
The group and Mitsubishi started talks on compensation in April last year before talks between the two broke down on February 11 this year.
Kang Jian who heads the lawyers’ group said: “All the information we got from Mitsubishi is from the media. We have not received any documents from them about compensation.
“If the company cares about giving the victims a sincere apology they should contact us directly instead of calling out through the media”.
Regarding the response from Chinese lawyers, a spokesperson from Mitsubishi said it is still investigating the situation and has no further comments.
Compensation matters for wartime victims has been a long and uphill battle for China and other Asian nations.
The Japanese government has insisted for decades that Japanese firms do not have to pay compensation to Chinese citizens forced into labour during the war, citing the 1972 Japan-China joint communique, which normalised diplomatic relations between the two nations.