June 1, 2016 / 12:22 PM / a year ago

Mitsubishi Materials to compensate Chinese for wartime forced labor

TOKYO (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Materials Corp said on Wednesday it reached an agreement to apologize and pay compensation to Chinese laborers forced to work in its mines during World War Two.

Under the settlement, Chinese people who were forced to work at coal mines and other facilities in Japan will receive the apology and individual payments of 100,000 yuan($15,196). It also applies to families of workers who have died, making an estimated 3,765 in total.

“On our part, we’ve come to a conclusion that we will extend ok our apologies and offer the money as a proof of that apologies,” a Mitsubishi Materials spokesman said.

Last year, Mitsubishi Materials became the first major Japanese group to apologize for using American soldiers for forced labor during World War Two.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained by what Beijing considered to be Japan’s reluctance to atone for the country’s wartime past. Japan invaded China in 1937 and ruled parts of it until Tokyo’s defeat in 1945.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing that forced labor was a serious crime committed by the Japanese militarists during their period of invasions and colonizations.

“We hope that Japan takes a responsible attitude towards history and conscientiously deals with and appropriately handles this problem left over from history,” Hua said.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Minami Funakoshi in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard in Beijing. Editing by Jane Merriman

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