at the prefectural court
and the lower-court judgement (1991-1996)
Seven of the ex-Korean BC class war criminals instituted proceedings at
the Tokyo district court.
Among the seven plaintiffs, five of them were the ex-war criminals who were
living in Japan; one was the ex-war criminal in Korea; and the last one
was a family member of the ex-war criminal in Korea.
Each of the five plaintiffs who were living in Japan testified for three
minutes. The letters, which two of the plaintiffs in Korea wrote to the
judge, were read aloud in court. The attorneys spoke about the details of
Defendant Japanese government has merely said that it would challenge the
plaintiffs' demands. It did not say anything in regards to whether it recognized
the factual claims that the plaintiff side had presented.
The defense side claimed, "Although the plaintiffs are Koreans now,
they were Japanese and constituting members of the nation of Japan. Even
if they were convicted as war criminal and had to go through suffering as
a result , because they were constituting members of the nation of Japan,
they have to put up with the damages (just like other Japanese)." This
claim is so-called "equal share of war related suffering. "The
plaintiff side argued against this claim. It said that the plaintiffs were
forced to become "constituting members of the nations of Japan"
and that there were huge inequalities between Japanese and Koreans in terms
of rights and legal standing and that these inequalities should not be ignored.
The defense side also challenged the plaintiff side claim by saying, "Justice
itself (Jouri) cannot be the basis of legal judgement." But it did
not provide the details of its claim. As for the recognition of the plaintiff
side factual claims, it once again postponed its response.
The defense side still refused to show its affirmation or rejection of the
plaintiff side factual claims. Even for widely acknowledged historical facts,
it did not clarify its stance by stating "non-recognition. "Because
of this refusal, the two sides did not meet on the same ground. As for "justice
(Jouri)" argument, although there is a great distance between the two
sides, the plaintiff side decided to move its argument to a more concrete
level. It appealed to have three scholar witnesses: Utsumi Aiko, Awaya Kentaro
and Gaban McCormac.
For the "compensation demands based on unpaid labor" argument,
the defense side said, "There is a high possibility that the plaintiffs
were drafted rather than hired" so that there was no contract. It,
however, did not present any evidence. On the contrary, the plaintiff side
presented the related newspaper articles and pointed to the fact that there
was no draft paper. (This was the only time that the defense side unfolded
its "draft" argument.) The plaintiff side appealed that the television
documentary on the Korean BC class war criminals, "Cho Mun-san no issho"
(The Death Note of Cho Mun-san) be shown in court and it be regarded as
The plaintiff side showed a real draft paper. By doing so, it once again
countered the defense side argument that the plaintiffs were drafted. The
defense side still refused to show its stance about the factual claims.
( I noticed that the defense side attempted to win this case simply by legal
arguments.) As for the appeal to show "Cho Mun-san no Issho,"
the defense side challenged it by saying that it would not be able to cross-examine.
At any rate, the judge decided to allow the video be shown in court.
Television program "Cho Mun-san no Issho" was shown in court as
The plaintiff side once again appealed for testimony. It appealed for seven
plaintiffs and three scholars as witness. The defense side argued that it
was not necessary. At the end, it was decided that the testimony would start
with the plaintiffs and, if the necessity for scholar witnesses arose, the
plaintiff side would appeal it once again and judge would consider the appeal.
Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Lee Hak-lae (continued to the next hearing) .
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 1, the written record of the testimony.
Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Lee Hak-lae
Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Mun Tae-bok
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 2, the written record of the testimony.
Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Yun Dong-hyeon
and Mr. Mun Jae-haeng
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 3, the written record of the testimony.
Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Kim Wan-gun
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 4, the written record of the testimony.
Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Park Yun-sang
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 5, the written record of the testimony.
Plaintiff Testimony, Byon Gwang-su
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 5, the written record of the testimony.
Plaintiff Side Testimony, Abe Hiroshi
Mr. Abe was an officer at the railway division during the war. He was also
convicted as BC class war criminal and received a death sentence, which
was later commuted. This was probably the first time for a former Japanese
officer to testify in court in the trial of war compensation issues. He
spoke about the horrible reality of the construction site, which was made
worse by the order, the order that they had to hasten their work and complete
it in an outrageously short period of time. He also described the inhuman
policy toward POW, which the Japanese imperial forces pursued, and the condition
of the Korean guards who were at the bottom of the ladder in the imperial
Japanese forces. In addition, he referred to Mr. Cho Mun-san, Mr. Kim Ki-ho,
Mr. Hon Ki-jon and other Koreans who got executed in the Changee Prison
in Singapore You can obtain Plaintiff Side Testimony: Abe Hiroshi, the written
record of the testimony.
Plaintiff Side Testimony, Utsumi Aiko
You can obtain Plaintiff Side Testimony: Utsumi Aiko, the written record
of the testimony.
The plaintiff side submitted a 375-page final document and made its case
for the last time. Referring to similar cases in the United States, Canada
and Germany, the attorneys asserted, in the international community, the
responsible agent for conducting war, namely the state, has the duty to
provide individual compensation.
You can obtain Plaintiff Side Final Document 1-3 (in one volume).
In response to Plaintiff Side Final Document, the defense side submitted
a 16-page final document. The defense lawyers asserted that the justice
(Jouri) cannot provide the basis for the compensation demand. The plaintiffs'
suffering (or damage) cannot be considered to be special and therefore they
should endure it. (This is once again the "equal share of war related
suffering" argument). Furthermore, the defense side came up with new
1 Employment of prison guards was not based on the contract that
was defined by the civil law. 2 Even if there was something similar to the contract, Japan did
not violate the contract. 3 Even if Japan violated the contract, it has no bearing with the
damage that the plaintiffs suffered. 4 Even if there is some bearing, because Japan could not foresee
the war crimes trials, Japan is not responsible.
The plaintiff side submitted their counter argument. In it, it asserted
that Japan has no moral right to make the "equal share of war damage"
argument, because Japan invaded Korea, destroyed the national identity of
Koreans and had not clarified its own crime. As for the defense side "even
if" arguments, it presented documents and precedents as evidence. The
defense side expressed its desire to continue the hearing. But the plaintiff
side argued against it, reminding that the plaintiffs are old and have been
fighting for such a long time.
You can obtain The Supplement to the Final Document and learn how these
The judgement was expected to be issued, but it was somehow postponed.
This notice came to us only three days before May 20. We surmise that the
judge considered the impact on other trials that the judgement might have
and did not like the timing.
Tokyo Prefectural Court, Civil Suit Section NO. 33, Judge Nagano Masuzo
dismissed the first demand (compensation demand based on civil law) and
rejected the second demand (written apology, recognition of illegal nature
of the lack of compensatory law ). Much of the judgement had its basis in
the "equal share of war related suffering" argument. In addition,
the court claimed that the contract with the nation of Japan is a "public
and power relation" so that even when the nation violates the contract,
the civil law does not apply to such a violation. By using this new argument,
the court dismissed the case. As for the positive aspect, it said it is
better to provide the same sort of veteran's benefit to Korean nationals.
It, however, continued to say that it was up to the legislature to decide
it and beyond the power of judicature.
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