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Survivors of WWII massacre to bring suit against Japanese govt

Global Times (2014-07-15 P04)
By Cao Siqi

Residents from a village in North China's Hebei Province, including 38 survivors of a 1941 massacre, will demand compensation of over 6 billion yuan ($960.6 million) from the Japanese government in a Chinese court.

The plaintiffs, from Panjiayu village in Hebei, entrusted the Chinese Association for Claiming Compensation from Japan to file a suit on their behalf against the Japanese government on Sunday.

"If we manage to file suit in this case, it will be the first time Chinese victims of a wartime massacre have pressed charges against the Japanese government in a Chinese court," Tong Zeng, chairman of the Chinese Association for Claiming Compensation from Japan, told the Global Times.

Japanese soldiers slaughtered more than 1,200 Chinese civilians in Panjiayu village in January 1941, Xinhua has reported.

"What's worse than the crime is the fact that the Japanese government never showed any regrets for their cruel behavior and has never given up their ambition to revive militarism," said Pan Ruishen, a leader of the plaintiff group. Twelve people from Pan's family were brutally killed in the massacre. 

Japan recently loosened the bonds on its powerful military, allowing its armies to defend allies under armed attack in collective self-defense, a controversial shift in the nation's pacifist stance.

More than 30 suits filed by the Chinese wartime victims in Japanese courts have been rejected or failed since 1995.

The lawsuits involve accusations of wartime bombing and slaughtering, forced labor, forced prostitution as well as chemical and biological weapons.

The Japanese courts said by signing the 1972 Sino-Japanese Joint Statement China has given up its rights to claim for wartime compensation, a statement disputed by the Chinese side.

Sun Shiyan, an international law expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the joint statement indicated that Chinese government has given up its rights to claim compensation, but that the agreement does not prevent individual victims from bringing suit.

"More and more victims of the massacre and their families will file a suit if the Panjiayu villagers win this lawsuit, which would be a significant milestone," said Tong.

In January of this year, residents of Panjiayu village publicized an open letter to the Japanese government, demanding that it take responsibility for its wartime actions.


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