July 23, 2015 / 7:00 PM / 2 years ago

Japanese company to compensate for wartime forced labor - Kyodo

(Reuters) - Japanese construction company Mitsubishi Materials Corp plans to apologize and pay compensation to Chinese people over its use of forced labor during World War Two, Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported.

The company plans to offer about $60 million, or $16,000 each, to 3,765 people, representing the largest number to be compensated by a Japanese company over its wartime actions, Kyodo reported. (bit.ly/1LFTrut)

This is the first time a Japanese firm has decided to apologize and offer compensation to Chinese war victims, according to the Kyodo report, which cited sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Last week, Mitsubishi Materials apologized for using captured American soldiers as slave laborers during the war. [ID:nL1N0ZZ0E6]

Japan invaded China in 1937 and ruled parts of it with a brutal hand for the next eight years. Chinese historians say nearly 40,000 men were taken to Japan against their will to work in mines and construction. Survivors say living conditions were appalling. Many did not make it back to China.

Dozens of wartime compensation suits had been filed in Japan against the Japanese government and companies associated with the country’s wartime aggression in the first half of the 20th century, including World War Two. Almost all have been rejected by Japanese courts.

Japan insists that the issue of war reparations was settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, which formally ended the war, and by later bilateral treaties.

Reporting by Shivam Srivastava in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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