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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


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)   


Canada Association for Learning & Preserving

the History of WW II in Asia (ALPHA)     Website:


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


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     Website:





中川 了滋 裁判長殿 


津野 修裁判官殿


今井 功 裁判官殿


















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。








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。











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。