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Appeal from Canada ALPHA

 

URGENT & IMPORTANT - Japanese corporation appeals to the Supreme Court of Japan to deprive Chinese victims' right to claim compensation!

 

Dear friends,

 

We earnestly appeal to you and your organization to write a letter to the Supreme Court of Japan to support the long-overdue redress for Chinese victims of war crimes and human rights violations committed by the Japanese Imperial forces during WWII

 

In response to the appeal by Nishimatsu Construction against the ruling by the Hiroshima Appellate Court in favour of the Chinese forced labour victims, the Supreme Court of Japan decided on Jan 15 to hold a special hearing to debate on the right to claim of the Chinese victims.  The date of this special hearing is set for March 16, 2007.  This has put all lawsuits for redress of Chinese victims in crisis.

 

As we understand it, the focus of the Supreme Court hearing will be on the issue whether China has, by signing the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty in 1952 and the Sino-Japanese Joint Communique in 1972, abandoned all the claims to war reparation and/or compensation by the state as well as the individual Chinese citizens.  Should the Supreme Court ruled against the Chinese plaintiffs’ right to claim against the Japanese corporations and the state of Japan, it will have grave negative consequences for all other redress lawsuits of Chinese victims filed in Japan.

 

In your support letter please urge the Supreme Court of Japan to respect historical facts and the position of the government of the People’s Republic of China that it has not abandoned in any treaties the Chinese individuals’ right to claim for compensation as a redress for the war-crimes committed by Japan during WWII.

 

As advised by Japanese lawyers who are in support of redress lawsuits, it would also be constructive that your support letter urges the Supreme Court to hold this special hearing in the Grand Bench (consisting of 15 judges of the Supreme Court) in lieu of the originally scheduled Petty Bench (consisting of 5 judges only).  This is appropriate as this Supreme Court hearing involves interpretation of international treaties and has the potential to provoke a diplomatic crisis between Japan and China.  Any unjust ruling will jeopardize the opportunity of building genuine trust and reconciliation between people of the two nations.

 

Please feel free to adapt Canada ALPHA’s letter in below for your use  As the special court hearing will be held on March 16, 2007, so your support letter need to arrive the Court before that date.  Please also help to ask other human rights organizations, scholars, human right lawyers, elected politicians to write a similar letter as well. 

 

Your support letter should be addressed to:

Hon. Ryoji Nakagawa, Presiding Judge

The Second Petty Bench

Supreme Court of Japan

4-2,Hayabusa-cho,Chiyoda

Tokyo, Japan

 

Please also fax a copy of your support letter to us at 1-604-439-7738 on or before March 10 so that we can forward it to the Japanese Support Group of this case for their use. Together with other international supporters, I will attend and observe the hearing of this appeal in the Supreme Court of Japan.   Thank you for your support in advance.

Thekla Lit
Co-chair of Canada ALPHA (Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII in Asia)
archive.alpha-canada.org   
 


      

Canada Association for Learning & Preserving

the History of WW II in Asia (ALPHA)

  E-mail:bcalpha@shaw.ca     Website:  http://archive.alpha-canada.org

 

February 27, 2007

 

Hon. Ryoji Nakagawa, Presiding Judge

Hon. Niro Shimada, Judge

Hon. Osamu Tsuno, Judge

Hon. Yuki Furuta, Judge

Hon. Isao Imai, Judge

The Second Petty Bench

Supreme Court of Japan

4-2,Hayabusa-cho,Chiyoda

Tokyo, Japan

 

Dear Honorable Judges,

 

Re:  Your January 15,2007 decision to hold a special hearing regarding Chinese war victims’ right to claim against Nishimatsu Construction Co., Ltd.  

 

As a Canadian human rights organization committed to supporting justice for victims of the Japanese government’s wartime measures during the Asia Pacific War, we are writing to raise our concern regarding the appropriate body to hear this case as well as the specific legal arguments related to the individual’s right to claim damages for war crimes.

 

For the past several years, we have been closely following the court cases of victims of atrocities committed by the Japanese imperial forces, including Chinese war victims seeking justice and compensation from the Japanese government and Japanese companies.

 

We were pleased that in the case of Chinese forced labour victims seeking compensation from Nishimatsu Construction Co., Ltd., the Hiroshima High Court upheld the basic legal principle of fairness and justice and ruled in favour of the war victims on July 9, 2004.  Moreover, in the verdicts of this case handed down by both the district court and high court acknowledged the facts related to the atrocities based on evidence submitted by the Chinese plaintiffs.

 

To our disappointment, Nishimatsu Construction Co., Ltd  then appealed to the Supreme Court of Japan. In response, your Petty Bench informed the appellants on January 15, 2007 that other than the issue of Chinese individual victims’ right to claim against Japan for compensation, no other appeal grounds would be considered. The special hearing debating this issue is set for March 16, 2007 at the Petty Bench. Is this the appropriate lieu? Would it not be more appropriate for such a debate to take place at the Grand Bench of the Supreme Court of Japan since this matter involves interpretation of international treaties, has the potential to provoke a diplomatic crisis between Japan and China and jeopardize the opportunity of building genuine trust and reconciliation between people of the two nations?

 

In any event, we would like to bring your attention to the fact that the Chinese victims’ right to claim for compensation has never been abandoned by any treaties between China and Japan. We urge the Supreme Court to consider the following in the special hearing:

 

1.      China was not a signatory of the San Francisco Peace Treaty (1951) and was not even invited to join the negotiation of the Treaty. Thus, the Treaty has no binding effect on China.  In any case, the San Francisco Peace Treaty does not waive the victims’ individual right to claim for compensation. During the treaty discussions themselves and in both the lawsuits of Japanese detained in Siberia and that of atomic bomb victims, the Japanese government has consistently expressed the view that what was abandoned in the San Francisco Peace Treaty was not the individual’s right to claim, but only the right to claim by the government on behalf of the individual from another nation (the right of diplomatic protection). But in similar lawsuits with Chinese as the plaintiffs, the Japanese government offered a totally different interpretation. In adopting such a double standard the Japanese government has effectively forfeited any credibility on this issue.

 

2.      The Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty (1952) cannot be used as an excuse for the abandonment of the Chinese victims’ right to claim.  The Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty was void after the signing of the Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the Peoples Republic of China in 1972.  Even at the time when the Treaty was signed it was of limited application.   As defined in an official exchange document attached to the Treaty, the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty could only apply to territory actually controlled by Republic of China then and in the future. Therefore the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty has established itself as not applicable to the People’s Republic of China.

 

3.      It is public knowledge that claimants arising from wars include states, groups and individuals. This is due to the characteristics of damages. Individual or group property cannot be substituted with state property. By the same token, an individual’s right cannot be unconditionally taken over by the state. Any abandonment of the right should be openly and explicitly expressed.  In the Joint Communique the Chinese government did not declare that it abandoned the right to claim of Chinese citizens on their behalf. It was based on this understanding that the first and second instance rulings by District Courts or High Courts in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Niigata, Hiroshima etc. did not support the Japanese government’s position of “the abandonment of the Chinese victims’ right to claim”.   The only exception was the ruling of the Tokyo High Court on March 18, 2005, which supported for the first time the Japanese government’s position of “abandonment of Chinese victims’ right to claim” in the “comfort women” cases. This verdict by the Tokyo High Court violated legal precedent and was a provocative aberration.

 

4.      The Joint Communique did not give up the Chinese nationals’ individual rights to claim for seeking compensation from Japan. What does exist is the speech by the Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in 1995, which clearly stated, “The Joint Communique abandoned the right to claim of the state, but the right to claim of the individuals has not been abandoned.”

 

Offering victims humanitarian consolation is an act of respect for basic human rights. Those who inflicted suffering and pain in violation of the rules of war should be held accountable for both their criminal responsibilities and civil liabilities. Only in this way can there be a deterrent effect on who seek to use military force to gain global hegemony. Hence the efforts of war victims seeking compensation from Japan are equivalent acts of defending world peace.  It is only when the Japanese state is able to deal with Chinese war victims’ compensation demands on the basis of fairness and justice can there be meaningful restoration and development of trust and constructive relationship between the Chinese and Japanese peoples for many generations to come.

 

We expect the Supreme Court of Japan to uphold the basic legal principle of fairness and justice and grant the long-overdue redress to the victims by rejecting Nishimatsu Construction’s appeal on the ground of the so-called “abandonment of the Chinese victims’ right to claim”.

 

Any court decision discriminating against these Chinese plaintiffs’ right to claim would be utterly unacceptable and tarnish the integrity of the Supreme Court of Japan in the eyes of the international community. 

 

I sincerely hope that the impartiality of your Court can withstand the political pressure of the Japanese government and corporations and will render a just verdict, as is the case with your counterparts in other developed states.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Thekla LIT

Co-chair of Canada ALPHA


 

For more information, please refer to the online article "Japan’s Top Court Poised to Kill Lawsuit by Chinese War Victims" published in Japan Focus, an internationally referred Asia Pacific e-journal and archive on Japan and Asia Pacific. 

 


      

Canada Association for Learning & Preserving

the History of WW II in Asia (ALPHA)

アジアに於ける第2次大戦史を風化させず学ぶカナダの会

  E-mail:bcalpha@shaw.ca     Website:  http://archive.alpha-canada.org

 

東京都千代田区隼町4-2

最高裁判所第二小法廷

 

中川 了滋 裁判長殿 

島田仁郎裁判官殿

津野 修裁判官殿

古田佑紀裁判官殿

今井 功 裁判官殿

 

敬愛する裁判官のみなさま

 

2007年1月15日に出された各位のご決定すなわち、「中国人戦争被害者たちが西松建設株式会社を相手取り要求する権利につき特別審理を開催する」について

 

私たちはアジア太平洋戦争中、戦時日本政府の処断によって生じた犠牲者に正義が行われるよう誠意をもって支援するカナダの人権団体です。御小法廷が本件の公聴をするに適わしい機関であるかにつき懸念を表明し、また戦争犯罪にたいする個人の賠償請求権に関し具体的に法的な論考をさせていただくため、この手紙を書きます。

 

過去数年にわたり、私たちは日本帝国軍隊の侵した残虐行為の犠牲者が起こした裁判訴訟を綿密に追ってきましたが、そのうちには中国人戦争犠牲者が日本政府、日本企業に正義と補償を求める訴えも含まれておりました。

 

中国人強制連行・強制労働の犠牲者が西松建設株式会社に補償を求めた訴訟では、広島高裁が、200479日、公正と正義の基本的法原則にのっとり、戦争犠牲者に有利な裁決をされたことは喜ばしいことでした。さらに、本件の裁決では、地裁、高裁の双方により、中国人原告たちが提出した証拠に基づき残虐行為に関する事実認定もされました。

 

遺憾ながら、その後、西松建設株式会社は日本の最高裁に上告しました。これにこたえ、御小法廷は上告者にたいし2007115日、中国人個人犠牲者の日本に対する賠償請求権問題を除き、他のいかなる上告理由も考慮されない旨を通告なさいました。この問題を論議するための特別審は、2007316日、小法廷に於ける開催が設定されております。これは適正な場所でありましょうか。このような論義は日本最高裁の大法廷で行われるのが、よりふさわしくはないでしょうか。本件は国際協定の解釈におよび、日中の外交危機を誘発する可能性があり、両国の人々が真の信頼と和解にいたるチャンスを危うくする危険性があるからです。

 

いずれにしても、中国人犠牲者の賠償請求権が放棄されたことは、日中のいかなる協定によっても一度もない事実に、ご注意を喚起したく存じます。特別審理において、最高裁は以下の点をご高配あるよう勧告いたします。

 

 1.中国はサンフランシスコ平和条約(1951)の調印国ではありませんでしたし、同条約締結交渉にも参加は呼びかけられませんでした。故に、同条約は中国にたいし如何なる拘束力も持ちません。いずれにせよ、サンフランシスコ平和条約は、補償に対する被害者の個人請求権は放棄していません。同条約の協議の過程でも、また日本人シベリア抑留者、原爆犠牲者の起こした両訴訟に際しても、日本政府は常に、サンフランシスコ平和条約において放棄されたのは個人の請求権ではなく、個人に代わって国が相手国に請求する権利だけであると表明してきました。しかし中国人原告による同様の訴訟では日本政府は全く別の解釈を持ち出しました。このダブル・スタンダードの適用で、日本政府はこの問題に関する信頼性を全て結果的に失っています。

 

2.日華平和条約(1952)を中国人犠牲者の請求権放棄の口実に使うことはできません。 日華平和条約は1972年に日本政府と中華人民共和国政府の共同声明が調印された後、失効しました。日華平和条約が調印された当時でさえ、その適用範囲は限られていました。同条約に添付された公式交換文書に規定されているとおり、日華平和条約は、締結当時もその後も、台湾政府が実際に統治する領域内にのみ適用されるものでした。故に日華平和条約は中華人民共和国には適用されない取り決めとして存在した条約です。

 

3.戦争によって生じる原告には国家、集団、および個人が含まれることは周知のとおりです。これは損害賠償本来の性質に由来します。個人または集団の所有物を国家の所有物によって代替することは不可能です。同様に、個人の権利を無条件で国家が引継ぐことも不可能です。いかなる権利の放棄も、オープンにまた明白に表現されなくてはなりません。共同声明のなかで中華人民共和国は、中国人民になりかわり彼らの請求権を放棄すると宣言はしてはおりません。この理解に基づく裁決により、東京、福岡、新潟、広島などの地裁、高裁法廷は、第一審、二審で日本政府の「中国人犠牲者の請求権放棄」という立場を支持しなかったのです。唯一の例外は2005318日、東京高裁での裁決であり、これが初めて「中国人犠牲者の請求権放棄」という日本政府の立場を、「慰安婦」訴訟において支持したのでした。東京高裁によるこの裁断は法規慣例を侵害する、挑戦的な邪道行為でした。

 

4.共同声明は中国人民が日本に賠償金請求する権利を放棄はしませんでした。これを明白に述べる1995年、銭其しん外相の演説があります。「共同声明は国家の請求権を放棄した。しかし個人の請求権は放棄されていない。」 

 

犠牲者に人道的な慰めを提供することは基本的人権に基づく敬意のしるしです。戦争法規の侵害により苦難と苦痛を与えた者は、犯罪への責任、そして教養ある文化人としての責務をふたつながらとるべきであります。このような行為のみが、世界の支配権を軍事力で得ようとする者たちへの抑止力を生みだす唯一の道です。ですから戦争被害者たちが日本から補償を求めようとする努力は世界平和を守るのに等しい行為なのです。日本政府が中国人戦争犠牲者の補償要求に、公正、正義にもとづいて対処できてこそ、意義の深い修復が可能となり、信頼感にあふれ建設的な日中両国市民の関係が、今後幾世代にもわたって発展しうるのです。

 

日本の最高裁が公正と正義の基本的法理念 を掲げて、いわゆる「中国人犠牲者の請求権放棄」を根拠とする西松建設の訴えを退け、長期の懸案だった補償を許してくださるよう、期待します。

 

中国人原告たちの請求権を差別する如き決定はいかなるものでも到底受け入れ難いもので、そのような決裁がくだされたとすれば、日本国最高裁の高潔さにたいする国際社会の評価を汚すものとなりましょう。

 

日本政府と企業の政治的圧力に御法廷が公正さをもって抵抗され、他の先進諸国の相当機関がしたと同じく、正しい裁決を出してくださるよう、こころから期待いたします。

 

 敬具

 

                      2007227

 

テクラ・リット       

カナダ・ALPHA 共同代表 

 


 

詳細は、Japan Focusに掲載されたオンライン論文「Japan’s Top Court Poised to Kill Lawsuit by Chinese War Victims(日本の最高裁、中国人戦争犠牲者の訴訟を葬る構え:ウィリアム・アンダーウッド・康健弁護士著)をご参照ください。Japan Focusは国際社会で読まれているアジア太平洋地関連の電子ジャーナルで日本とアジア太平洋に関する文書を記録保管しています。