Groups agree to accept Mitsubishi settlement
Updated: 2015-08-04 07:40
By Zhang Yunbi(China Daily)
Wartime slave laborers unhappy with offer but take it because of their age
Three groups representing Chinese wartime slave labor said on Monday that while they are not satisfied with an offer from Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi Materials, they decided to agree to it partly because they "are at a senior age".
Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported the settlement offer last month, which stated that the company will deliver an "apology" for forcing the captured Chinese to work under slavelike conditions in Japan during World War II.
The offer triggered wide-spread comment and criticism as the company insisted that it will make a "payment" in the name of a special fund to the victims instead of offering "compensation". The sum for each Chinese citizen who was forced to work as a slave laborer is reportedly 100,000 yuan ($16,100).
"We are not satisfied with the apology letter proposed by the Mitsubishi company and the proposed sum of payment for reconciliation," the three groups representing some of the Chinese laborers and their family members said in a joint statement on Monday in Beijing.
Xinhua News Agency quoted the statement as saying, "However, given the fact that all the survivors still alive are at a senior age and they are desperate to see resolution of this issue, we consulted most individuals victimized by Mitsubishi and family members of the dead, and we agreed that such a reconciliation (offer) is acceptable."
Nearly 40,000 Chinese were reportedly forced into labor for Japan-based companies during the war. Kyodo said 3,756 Chinese who were forced into hard labor in Mitsubishi's wartime mines will be eligible for the payment.
Liu Jiangyong, deputy dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, said that "both sides have a desire" to achieve an early settlement.
"Mitsubishi is under pressure because some Chinese groups have been suing the company in China - it is trying to save its business reputation," Liu said.
Liu also said that some other groups and lawyers have differing views on the company's offer. "It will take quite a period of time and process to satisfy all the parties," he said.
Last month, some Chinese groups disclosed details of the proposed offer, as well as a draft of an apology letter by the company, to media in Beijing. However, Mitsubishi has refused to confirm the offer or comment on any details.
A publicity official with the company declined requests for comment from Japan's leading newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, because the negotiations are "ongoing", the newspaper reported on Saturday.
Monday's statement said, "Only by daring to shoulder historical duties could the Mitsubishi company live up to its identity as a world-renowned enterprise."
Kang Jian, a lawyer in charge of the workers' lawsuit against Mitsubishi in Beijing, said that according to her experience in negotiating with the firm, it has tended to obscure facts and responsibilities regarding its slave labor past.
Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japan studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said, "What the media reports said is 'payment' is not formal compensation, and the figure is low indeed."
Zhou said it is possible that the company will "attempt to shirk moral and spiritual responsibilities by offering the payment of a small sum", and after the settlement is made, the firm "surely will sign relevant agreements with the family members to prevent them from launching anymore law-suits against it".
Yang Yixi and Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 08/04/2015 page3)