at the prefectural court
and the lower-court judgement

November 12,1991

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.

January 27,1992
First Hearing

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 the requests.
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.

March 23,1992
Second Hearing

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.

June 8,1992
Third hearing

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.

August 31,1992
Fourth Hearing

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 supplementary evidence.

October 26,1992
Fifth hearing

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.

January 11,1993
Sixth Hearing

Television program "Cho Mun-san no Issho" was shown in court as supplementary evidence.

May 10,1993
Seventh Hearing

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.

July 26,1993
Eighth Hearing

Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Lee Hak-lae (continued to the next hearing) .
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 1, the written record of the testimony.

October 18,1993
Ninth Hearing

Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Lee Hak-lae

January 17,1994
Tenth Hearing

Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Mun Tae-bok
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 2, the written record of the testimony.

April 11,1994
11th Hearing

Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Yun Dong-hyeon
and Mr. Mun Jae-haeng
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 3, the written record of the testimony.

July 11,1994
12th Hearing

Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Kim Wan-gun
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 4, the written record of the testimony.

October 17,1994
13th Hearing

Plaintiff Testimony, Mr. Park Yun-sang
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 5, the written record of the testimony.

December 19,1994
14th Hearing

Plaintiff Testimony, Byon Gwang-su
You can obtain Plaintiff Testimonies Vol. 5, the written record of the testimony.

March 20,1995
15th Hearing

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.

July 3,1995
16th Hearing

Plaintiff Side Testimony, Utsumi Aiko
You can obtain Plaintiff Side Testimony: Utsumi Aiko, the written record of the testimony.

October 30,1995
17th Hearing

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).

February 19,1996
18th Hearing

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 arguments.

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 argument went.

May 20,1996
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.

September 9,1996

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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