TOKYO—Japan's Mitsubishi Materials will apologize and pay compensation to Chinese victims of forced labor during World War II, Japanese media reported Friday, days after the firm made a landmark apology to US prisoners of war.
More than 3,700 Chinese who were forced into hard labour in the company's wartime mines will be eligible for compensation of 100,000 yuan ($16,100), Kyodo News and Jiji news agencies said, citing sources close to the matter.
Mitsubishi Materials, a sprawling conglomerate which makes everything from cement to electronics (and is part of the Mitsubishi Group), will express "deep remorse" and "sincere apologies" to the victims and build a 100 million yen ($800,000) monument honoring them, Kyodo said.
It comes after the Japanese firm on Sunday apologized to U.S. prisoners of war used as forced labor during World War II, in the year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the conflict.
About 39,000 Chinese nationals were forcibly brought to Japan during World War II at Tokyo's behest to work in coal mines and construction sites, the two countries estimate, where harsh conditions led almost 7,000 to perish.
Of the 3,765 Chinese laborers used by Mitsubishi Materials' wartime predecessor Mitsubishi Mining Co, several hundred died at the time, and only 1,500 survivors or their relatives have been found, Kyodo said.
Since the 1990s, Chinese survivors have filed a series of lawsuits against the Japanese government and corporations seeking damages for wartime wrongs.
However, Japan's Supreme Court in 2007 ruled against granting wartime compensation to individuals, saying their rights to claims were relinquished after a 1972 Sino-Japanese declaration that normalized ties between the two countries.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015