Naha District Court rules against WWII-era victims

In a decision handed down on Jan. 23, the Naha District Court rejected the claims for reparations of 44 plaintiffs representing victims of war and bereaved family members of the WWII fighting on South Sea Islands, such as Saipan and Tinian.

The plaintiffs had demanded a compensation of ¥10 million per person for damages and an official apology from the Japanese government.

The court rejected the plaintiffs’ demand, stating that under the constitution of the time, the nation was not held liable for tort. The plaintiffs plan to appeal.

The judgment applied an act of a state doctrine to repeal the plaintiffs’ claim that held the state responsible for damages incurred during combat operations by the Japanese Imperial Army. It denied the state’s responsibility under the Civil Code citing the nation’s tort laws before the enacting of the State Redress Law.

The court agreed that the plaintiffs suffered damages during shooting, and developed mental illness by their war experiences. But the court added that the country has discretion in deciding for liability for damages. The ruling says the discretion does not violate the equality of people under the law, and the prohibition of unfair discrimination under the Relief Act for Soldiers Wounded in War, Veterans and Bereaved families. Thus, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ claim of the legislative responsibility of the county.

After the court decision, the chief of the plaintiff’s defense team said that the attitude of the court of not responding to the plaintiffs’ demands is irresponsible and insincere.