Almost 40 Chinese citizens sued two Japanese companies on Wednesday, in a Beijing court, over forced wartime labour and asked for compensation, according to their lawyer.
Attorney Kang Jian said the suit, filed at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court, involved two survivors and 35 people whose relatives were forced labourers.
One of the sued companies was identified as Mitsubishi Materials Corp.
The Chinese group asked for apologies printed in 17 Chinese and Japanese newspapers including the People’s Daily and the Asahi Shimbun, as well as one million yuan ($163,000) in compensation for each worker, according to the international press.
Courts in Japan have repeatedly rejected previous similar cases, with the country’s Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that individual Chinese cannot demand compensation from Japan.
The Japanese government reiterated that on Wednesday.
“As for the issue of the right to make claims related to the war, including for individuals, this right has not existed since the Japan-China Joint Communique” of 1972, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
On the other hand, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “The forced recruitment and enslavement of labour is a severe crime committed by Japanese militarism during its war of aggression and colonial rule.”