Japan’s Mitsubishi appeals asset seizure ruling by South Korean court aimed at compensating forced laborers during WWII

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has lodged an appeal to stop South Korea from seizing its assets in order to compensate people who were drafted into forced labor during WWII, when Korea was Japan’s colony.

The legal process to compensate the victims of Japan’s wartime forced labor took effect last week, after Mitsubishi failed to carry out a 2018 court order to compensate five plaintiffs, including a 91-year-old victim, South Korea media reported on Monday.

The company is now seeking to stop the seizure of six patent rights and two trademark rights by South Korean authorities.

In 2018, a court ordered Mitsubishi to pay between 80 million won and 150 won ($73,000-$138,000) to each of 10 people who were forced to work for the company when the whole of Korea was Japan’s colony in 1910-1945. The plaintiffs in two separate lawsuits claimed they were drafted to work at Mitsubishi plants in Hiroshima and Nagoya with no pay and under constant surveillance. Some said they were exposed to radiation following the atomic bombing on Hiroshima in August 1945.

Last year, the plaintiffs asked a court in South Korea’s Daejon to seize Mitsubishi’s assets after the company refused to comply with the previous ruling. Their request was granted on December 29, 2020.

The amount sought by four plaintiffs, excluding the one who died during the legal proceedings, is 804 million won ($743,000), according to Yonhap news agency.

The Japanese authorities, meanwhile, have been insisting that the issue of reparations to South Korean citizens has already been settled by a 1965 treaty between the two nations.

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