Japan prime minister offers apology to 'war orphans' left behind in China

[JURIST] Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda [official website; BBC profile] Wednesday apologized to the thousands of Japanese women and children abandoned during Japan's retreat from China [Kyoto Journal backgrounder] at the close of World War II, marking the first time that a Japanese leader has apologized for the country's failure to support the "war orphans" [JURIST news archive]. The remarks came after the recent passage of a new law that will provide 66,000 yen (close to $600) every month to each repatriated war orphan, settling class action suits brought against Japan by approximately 2,200 persons.

In July, thousands of other Japanese war orphans accepted an aid proposal [JURIST report] from the government in exchange for abandoning all claims against Japan. Only 61 plaintiffs, who filed their suit in Kobe, have received compensation [JURIST report]. Japanese courts have consistently dismissed their lawsuits [JURIST report], ruling that the current Japanese government has no obligation to compensate the victims because it had no obligation to assist the repatriation and assimilation process. Courts have also ruled that the current Japanese government is not responsible for the actions of the wartime government, which operated under a different constitution. AFP has more.

 

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