Mon, 11 Dec 2000

Wartime forced labor case settled

Kajima Corp. agreed on Wednesday to settle a damage suit brought by Chinese laborers who were forced to work in a mine in Akita Prefecture during World War II operated by Kajima-gumi, the predecessor of Kajima Corp. Workers in the Hanaoka mine staged an uprising on June 30, 1945, to rebel against the torture they had been subjected to.

As a condition of the settlement, Kajima Corp. has agreed to contribute 500 million yen toward a fund for the forced laborers. This settlement is unprecedented.

Laborers who were forced by the Imperial Japanese Army to work under harsh conditions in the Philippines and Manchuria have also joined class action lawsuits filed in the United States to extract compensation from Japanese corporations. The settlement of the Hanaoka Incident will certainly have an impact on the fate of these lawsuits.

Many of the people employed by Kajima Corp. today had not heard of the Hanaoka Incident. But the company cannot avoid blame for having refused to accept responsibility for its behavior after the war had ended, and for trying to cover up the incident. Needless to say, conveying the facts of history to posterity is the first step that needs to be taken in order to resolve problems from the past.

-- Mainichi Shimbun, Tokyo