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  • Last Modified: February 11, 2010

Questions & answers on indemnity for Chinese victims caused by Japan's war crime during Word War 2

Chinese war victims are demanding apologies from the Japanese government as well as the responsible companies (in case they abducted Chinese ordinary people and forced them to work for their companies), by bringing them for trial.

 As of 2006, 11 years passed since the first case was brought into court. Still some cases are under trial.

Already more than 61 years have passed since the end of World War Ⅱ. Why the cases were brought into court 11 years ago. Why the Japanese government did not apologize.
Let’s clarify these key questions by going through the following questions and answers.

Question 1: Between Japan and China, were the problems on the damages caused by the war settled already?

Answer: The Japan-China joint communiqué issued in 1972, the Chinese government admitted to abandon the rights to seek compensation for damages caused by Japan’s invasion. Relying on this fact, the Japanese government is trying to justify in saying, “The problems had been already settled.” However, the communiqué does not state at all that Chinese individual people abandoned their rights to seek war compensation. The current key issue is not problems between the two nations but it is how to settle problems on the damages caused to individuals by reaching a reasonable conclusion acceptable to the victims.

Question 2: The Japanese government already apologized by the statement made by Prime Minister Mr. Tomiichi Murayama in 1995. Why seek an apology again?

Answer: It is true that Mr. Murayama expressed deep remorse and apologized to the war victims by the statement at the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. But the remorse and apology will become meaningful only when accepted by the Chinese people. On the other hand, the Japanese government high officials did not admit any of its terrible mistakes during the war and did not apologize for them. In addition, many of them had taken completely negative attitude. For example, Prime Minister Mr. Koizumi worshipped at Meiji Shrine where the class-A war criminals are enshrined and some ministers denied the existence of the sex slaves. These facts show deep questions whether the government is adhering to the statement made by Mr. Murayama. The attitude of the Japanese government is quite different from that of the German government.

Question 3: Because there are so many victims, if someone seeks compensation, will the situation get out of control?

Answer: The German government paid a pension or one-off settlement money to the war victims, regardless where they live. It is possible for the Japanese government to take similar actions, to properly compensate the victimized people by war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, the Japanese government has never apologized, or did not pay any compensation yet.

Question 4: It is said that the trials to seek compensation to Chinese war victims are used as a diplomatic card by the Chinese government or are intentionally dug up by Japanese lawyers.

Answer: It is not true. At the beginning the Chinese government was negative about bringing the problems into court. Because of this, the war victims sent their letters to the Japanese embassy in Beijing, to ask for apologies and compensations. However the Japanese government completely ignored. In the end, only remaining way for the victims was to bring into court.

Question 5: Many Japanese civilians were victimized by the war. We have to admit that any war will cause damages to individuals to a certain extent.

Answer: Needless to say, a war is the most terrible. It not only causes serious physical damages but also takes a huge amount of human lives. Even under this terrible situation, war crimes and crimes against humanity are absolutely prohibited by the international law. For example, the Japanese imperial army conducted lethal human experimentation (Unit 731 Case), massacred almost all the people in a village (Ping Ding Shan Case), abducted Chinese people to Japan as forced laborers (Forced Labor Cases), abducted women putting them into false imprisonment as sex slaves. These victims must be treated differently from other war victims.

Question 6: They occurred more than 60 years ago. Why they are on trial now?

Answer: The Japanese government has not yet made any apology or compensation to individual Chinese war victims and has not restored their honor and dignity. Until 1972 it was impossible for the victims to visit Japan because there was no diplomatic relations between Japan and China. Furthermore, for 50 years the Chinese government had not made clear whether Chinese victims as an individual could bring the cases into court against the Japanese government. In 1995 when Mr. Qian Qi Chen, the then foreign minister declared that Chinese people had their right to do so, the door for trials in Japan was open. In Germany war criminals do not have legal prescription and they are still being pursued.

Question 7: Can you win the trials for the Chinese war victims?

Answer: Yes, we are sure that w can win. Although we lost some trials, more importantly in other cases a court confirmed what had occurred according to evidence we presented and we won overturning the evading reasons of “non-national responsibility” and “a statute of limitations”. It is quite important to pursue responsibilities of the Japanese government and the responsible companies through the trials, because it is a key measure to make them understood that the damages to the war victims have been still ongoing even after more than 60 years.

Question 8: In Germany, how they treated the similar problems?

Answer: Immediately after the world war 2, they are trying to completely repair the damages caused by the past criminal acts, for example, established a few laws to pay compensation to the war victims, to keep chasing war criminals. In May 1985, the then president Mr. Weizsacker stated that they must sincerely face up to the past crimes to take responsibilities. In order to pay compensation to more than 1.2 million forced laborers under the Nazi rule, in July 2007 a fund named as “Memory Responsibility Future” was established by the government and the responsible companies. In Germany serious measures were repeatedly taken to remedy the damages. On the other hand, in Japan no action was made.

Question 9: In China why that huge anti-Japan movement happened?

Answer: It is not acceptable that at a street demonstration violence was used and some destructive actions were seen. However, we have to understand that, in China, someone in every family was killed or seriously harmed by the Japanese imperial army. Anger and grief caused by this sad experience was told from parents to children and children to grand-children. One of the reasons that a demonstration took destructive way was that some leaders of Japanese government tried to deny the criminal actions at the war, for example, the Prime Minister’s worship at Yasukuni Shrine or some ministers’ statements with falsehood. In order for us to restore real friendship between the people of two nations, understanding the background of their anger and grief, the Japanese government and the responsible companies have to admit what they did, have to sincerely apologize, and have to pay reasonable compensation to the victims.

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