The price of settlement : World War II reparations in China, Japan, and Korea
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New York University journal of international law and politics Vol. 51, no 2, 2019, p. 301-384
Source : https://nyujilp.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/NYI201.pdf (last accessed on 11.07.2022)
World War II litigation has roiled East Asia for the past quarter century. Asian victims of Japanese military aggression — from Taiwanese comfort women to Korean forced laborers to Chinese subjects of medical experimentation — filed more than one hundred lawsuits against the government of Japan, and dozens of large Japanese corporations. The Japanese judiciary has, pursuant to various affirmative defenses, insulated both government and corporate defendants. However, in a handful of cases, Japanese corporations settled, in spite of guaranteed judicial victory. To answer the question of why corporations settled, this Article provides the first comprehensive treatment of six settlement agreements signed by Japanese corporations and forced laborers from China and South Korea. It argues that the process and terms of settlement, upon fulfilling certain criteria, make a discrete contribution to the project of war reconciliation. After providing historical context, the Article articulates a framework to evaluate the settlement agreements, based on apology, admission of liability, public memory, and monetary compensation. It then examines the extent to which each agreement attained these remedies. The case studies show the value of openness in settlement and suggest a role in private settlement for advancing social concerns.
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