Exciting article from the NY Times! There is a primary source document that I included from the source! The related articles on some of the links are also fantastic if you want to know more about the WWII experience.
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Mitsubishi Materials Apologizes to Chinese World War II Laborers
HONG KONG — The Japanese corporation Mitsubishi Materials apologized on Wednesday to Chinese workers who were forced to work in its predecessor company’s mines during World War II, and it signed an agreement in Beijing to compensate three surviving former laborers.
“The Second World War ended 70 years ago, and our forced labor case today has finally reached a solution,” one of the former laborers, Yan Yucheng, 87, told reporters after the signing. “This is a great victory.”
Nearly 40,000 Chinese men were taken to Japan in the final years of World War II and forced to work in slavelike conditions for 35 companies. Roughly one in five died because of maltreatment.
Under the agreement with Mitsubishi Materials, the three survivors will each receive 100,000 renminbi, or about $15,000.
A survey by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated that 3,765 Chinese were forced to work for the company, then known as Mitsubishi Mining Corporation.
The apology and compensation are not the first between a Japanese company and Chinese workers. In 2000 the Kajima Corporation, a construction company, paid a settlement to survivors and families of deceased workers. In 2009 Nishimatsu Construction also apologized and paid compensation.
South Korean courts have ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to Koreans who were forced to work during the war.
The Mitsubishi Materials agreement is intended to be a template for future settlements with survivors or with the families of former workers who have died, said Naoto Tokushige, a Mitsubishi Materials spokesman.
Fewer than 20 of the former laborers are known to be living, and less than half of the families have been identified.
Tong Zeng, president of the China Federation of Demanding Compensation From Japan, said about 1,000 families of deceased workers had agreed to the deal, about 95 percent of the known total.
Not all of the known survivors have agreed, however. A lawyer representing four former laborers and about 60 families said they were not prepared to sign. One of their concerns is that the company has avoided mentioning that many of the Chinese laborers were tortured, said the lawyer, Kang Jian.
“If this is a sincere move, I’d applaud it,” Ms. Kang said. “But I don’t think this is a sincere reconciliation.”
Mitsubishi Materials said in a statement that it “continues to seek a comprehensive and permanent solution with all of its former laborers and their families.”
The company said it would set up a fund to build memorials at the site of the mines and would search for former laborers and their families. The settlement was announced last year, before the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
China held numerous events last year to mark the anniversary of the end of the war, which some observers said was symbolic of the continuing rivalry between the two countries. China’s military strength is steadily increasing, and Japan wants to remove some of the restrictions on its armed forces that were put in place after the war.
China claims islands in the East China Sea that are administered by Japan. Japan’s wartime occupation of China also remains a delicate issue.
Last week, after President Obama visited Hiroshima, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China suggested that the Imperial Japanese Army’s massacre of Chinese civilians in the city of Nanjing in 1937 deserved greater attention than did Hiroshima, where an American atomic bomb killed tens of thousands of people.
Last year Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said his country inflicted “immeasurable damage and suffering” on innocent people, and “has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war.”
But many in China have questioned the sincerity of Japanese remorse.
Some critics noted Mr. Abe also said that future generations, who had nothing to do with the war, should not “be predestined to apologize.”