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Japan Court Nixs Suit by Dutch POWs

November 30, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ A Tokyo court today rejected a compensation suit by eight former Dutch POWs who had been forced into slave labor by the Japanese army during World War II, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.

The Tokyo District Court conceded that Japan had committed human rights violations, but ruled that under international law individuals in wartime compensation cases do not have the right to sue the government.

The plaintiffs had demanded $176,000 from the Japanese government to compensate for physical abuses suffered in prisoner camps in the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, which Japan invaded in the 1940s.

The only woman among the plaintiffs sued for being forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops.

The ruling comes a week after the same court rejected demands for compensation from seven plaintiffs on behalf of 20,000 ex-prisoners from Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The court had turned down compensation demands in last week’s case on the same grounds.

The Japanese government claims that the issue of compensation for POWs was resolved in 1951 with the signing of the San Francisco peace treaty.

Japan forced POWs to work in shipyards, mines and jungles in violation of international law. They were also beaten and some were executed. Thousands of women across Asia were forced into brothels for Japanese troops.

The POW death rate at the Japanese camps was 27 percent, compared to a 4 percent rate at Allied camps.

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