Nippon Steel says it will accept South Korea slave labor ruling


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I have to retract my previous comment as far as Peoples Republic of China is concerned. It was Peoples Republic of China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1972, rather than Peoples Republic of China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1978. The renoucement of individual war compensation was vaguely written in the joint declaration.

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Back on topic please.

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@SamuraiJapan. Documensaries about Japan of old time hear Old Japanese in Japanese speaking. Then younger translators in their English, often skipping or misquoting things they don;t understand. So, that document, discounted in scholastic world as worse than Hollywood plots. It does not even wrote how come Southern Japanese families kept tomatoes with Hinomaru in their family house.. Well, no books mentioned that yet.

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I watched that documentary and thought it was a disgrace. It doesn't cover WW1 in which Japan sided with the allies and it did not mention the unbelievable tariff the European colonial states demanded as an act of protectionism. It also did not mention anything about the Racial Equality Proposal Japan proposed at the Paris Peace Conference that was completely rejected by the British and American although it gained majority through vote.

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@gogogo: So, you depend on sloppy writers of WW I I time Japan, I trust my memory more than young some kind of writers. That is why I often write about Joshi Teishintai, Ichioku Gyokusui, and much brainwashed WW I I era Japan. //ask these young writers how tomatoes are saved in houses to pretend they tried to pretend they participated in brainwashed Ichioku Gyokusui. You will never find so use Wikipedia to find What is Mitsukoshi Business. Maybe you found what is Mitsubishi Zero? American people sure know of these Zero and Kamikaze Pilot on Hawaii in 1945. By old old nosy broken English comment writer.

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gogogoAug. 20, 2013 - 11:50AM JST

CH3CHO: Disagree, Japan as a nation that invaded another countries and Japanese companies like Nippon Steel, Muzikoshi, Mitsubishi and Toyota all profited from people over the taken over countries. Two different things IMO.

The so called "profits", both national and individual, were all settled through San Fransisco Peace Treaty of 1951, Republic of China Japan Peace Treaty of 1952, Peoples Republic of China Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1978, Soviet Japan Joint Declaration of 1956, and Korea Japan Basic Treaty of 1965. Check the treaty texts.

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toshiko: Watch the documentary the Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire by Discovery channel.

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Unfortunately, it would seem highly unlikely that the Supreme Court in Korea will rule in favor of the Japanese companies because they were were the ones who initially sent back the case to the lower courts who initially ruled in favor of the companies.

Local judges in South Korea honored the rulings by the Japanese courts in the companies’ favor. But the Supreme Court overturned their rulings in a landmark decision in May 2012 and sent the cases back to the lower courts for trial, saying the Japanese rulings went against the Constitution of South Korea and international legal norms.

There is definitely something wrong in the juduicial system in Korea.

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@gogogo- during war, department storees were accused they were anti nationalism by slogan of Zeitaku wa Teli Luxury is Enemy. Mitsukoshi ihas been a department store in Tokyo. So it was targetted as enemy business. It never went out of Japan. Toyota was dingy very very small car mekers that was in Japa until US Military spotted Toyota's technological talent in De. 1945. It never went out ofr Japan. As for Mitsubishi, it had an airplane company. That made Miitsubishi zeor and ot did not have to go out of Japan to make anything during WW i I because iit had Military Govt. protected business. (War air planes). You are talking about Sumitomo, I'd bet. Dept stores were considered enemies of Japan, then. I

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CH3CHO: Disagree, Japan as a nation that invaded another countries and Japanese companies like Nippon Steel, Muzikoshi, Mitsubishi and Toyota all profited from people over the taken over countries. Two different things IMO.

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Chamkun: learn what iare duties of Supreme Courts in Korea, Japan, and maybe USA. So, if Korean Supreme court uphold the lower court verdict. this $36,000 for 4 people will be final.

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I heard it is going to the supreme court. I hope Korea will let the world think as Korea as a lawful society after the verdict from the supreme court. I restudy and read the treaty and the court decision this time is completely the base less but just an emotional decision just like the Buddha statuses case. The police in Korea arrested the people who stole them and convicted. But Korean court decided that the statues would not have to be returned to Japan because the Japanese temple could not show the receipt in the 13 century to prove the statues were purchased or not. The court logic? is it could be stolen from Korea in the 13 century. If this comes from some one on the street who dislike Japan, I do not care much. But it came from the official Korean judicial system!!! When I heard this court decision, I lost my confidence to Korea as a lawful country. Shame on the Korean judicial system. I really hope the supreme court of Korea will bring my minimum confidence back to the judicial system of Korea. In case, the company loses, the world need to hear a lawful explanation why the Japanese company must accept this baseless legal extortion. It should not be like another statue case.

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@tokyodpcpmo wrote "@Sherman: I say $360k is chump change, they should be paid at least $360k every year for the same amount of years they were cut off. ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' I wrote it is a small money. Are you accusing Korean Court for giving this verdict? Are you going to sue Korean court?

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The barbarous atrocities committed by Japan will never go away just because some ludicrous Japanese Nationalist or Japanese wannabes wish it to go away. Let say your sister or mother was raped and slashed to death by invading soldiers, do you think you'll be able to forget or forgive those who are criticizing the victims half a century later? Korean Queen was killed in early 1900 exactly the way I just described... She would be in similar position as Japanese Empress today and this is one example of the brutal crime Japan wants to keep quiet. So let me say the scar that changed History of one Nation will not be healed in mere 100 years or so. Going back to comments on this article...close to 700-thousand Koreans were brought to Japan as forced laborers to work in harshest environment without proper compensation. These were Koreans forced to become a second class Japanese citizens and were ordered to repay the honor of citizenship to Imperial Japan by providing physical labor. However even there second class citizenship was retracted when Japan lost the War and were abandoned in foreign soil. Most workers were basically thrown out into the streets without money and no where to go. I say $360k is chump change, they should be paid at least $360k every year for the same amount of years they were cut off.

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It is only $360,000. Nittetsu can pay easily and go on their business. Just make sure these 4 victims receive, noit to Korean Govt.

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I don't for how long Korea/China want to blackmail Japan for those things which happen way way long back (i wonder how many of those, who made decisions on WWII or prior to that are working in Japanese Govt or alive).

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Fabricated news...

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Thank you, Onsen. How strange it is.

The 1965 treaty was meant to settle everything, wrong or good, Japanese government did during the "colonial period".

Now, the Korean court says that everything Japanese government did during that time was against Korean Constitution, and therefore, illegal and therefore, out of the scope of the 1965 treaty. They are basically saying the treaty is void. But when you read article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, domestic laws, including the constitution cannot be the justification for violating the treaty.

Japanese ministry for foreign affairs should have done something by now

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I think I have found the source of the Korean High Court's decision which is based on th eruling made by Korea's Supreme Court in May 2012 which strated this all off.

The Supreme Court said the Japanese courts’ decision to dismiss the previous suits by the victims was “based on the premise that colonial rule of Korea was lawful, which directly conflicts with core values of the Republic of Korea’s Constitution, which holds that forced mobilization under Japanese colonial rule was inherently unlawful.

"To acknowledge the Japanese rulings would be in violation of South Korea’s good customs, or any other social order," the court said.

The court went on to say that the Korea-Japan Claim Agreement does not negate individuals’ rights to demand damages for illegal actions in which national authorities had a part.

"We cannot view personal claim rights as having been extinguished by the Claim Agreement, or South Korean diplomatic protections as having been abandoned," the court said.

Ahh, now that I recall, South Korea has no ex post facto law. They can and have made retroactive law so this is another example?

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This is called "double jeopardy" in civilized countries.

Only when it's under the same legal system.

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Yeon Un-Taek and three other forced laborers filed their first compensation suit in Japan in 1997, but it was dismissed by the country's top court.

They launched a separate action in South Korea in 2005.

This is called "double jeopardy" in civilized countries.

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The company should have told the Koreans where to go. It's like people in Europe and the UK suing MBB for Luftwaffe pilots in WW2 flying Messerschmitt 109s and killing pilots in dogfights. MBB is the successor to Messerschmitt... modern day Japanese companies which were not around in WW2 should not be held responsible for any wartime activities.

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Korean Civil Code article 162 says that the statute of limitations for monetary claim is 10 years. Why can the workers file a lawsuit of unpaid wages in 1945 to Korean court in 2005 is beyond me.

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It would be funny if they raised prices in Korea and got that money back.

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This is the relevant part of the 1965 normalization treaty:-

Article II 1 The High Contracting Parties confirm that the problems concerning property, rights, and interests of the two High Contracting Parties and their peoples (including juridical persons) and the claims between the High Contracting Parties and between their peoples, including those stipulated in Article IV(a) of the Peace Treaty with Japan signed at the city of San Francisco on September 8, 1951, have been settled completely and finally.

I still cannot understand how the above can be interpreted that a person (the plaintiffs in this case) can claim against juridicial persons (SSNMC in this case) as it seems clear that this has already been settled.

Can anyone guide me to the specific Korea High Court Ruling that explains why this clause in this treaty is considered irrerevant. Unless this Treaty itself is considered illegal in the first place?

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if one of the elderly gents passes away, will his family get the pay out? or is this a political/convenient way to drag out the payment to the victims?? come guys pay out and move on, its not a good move for your country relations !!

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Slap on wrist......Nippon steel makes big cash on every deal and this amount is trip to Hawaii for them!! Poor Korean slaves, they get the money when are few years away from death bed.....we live in such a ugly world

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gogogoAug. 19, 2013 - 02:24PM JST

I hope Japan has to pay,

That is what Japan did in 1965.

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I hope Japan has to pay, so many big companies profited from Korea and China

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The court says they should pay about $360,000 and they worry about their bottom line. Hmm. How much have they paid their lawyers over the last 16 years?

Exactly what I was thinking. They've probably already spent 10 times that in legal fees.

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>CrazyJoeAug. 19, 2013 - 08:22AM JST

The original Japan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. (Nippon Steel) existed since 1934. Under the 1965 Japan- Korea Treaty, >there is no obligation to pay.

Nippon Steel was formed in 1970 through a merger of the two steel companies at the time, Fuji Steel Co, and Yawata Steel Co. Those companies did exist prior to 1970. However I do not see hoe a different corporate entity that did not exist until 1970 can be held responsible for the actions of it's predecessors. Do they share the same directors, officers and shareholders? But regardless, agree that Nippon Steel should have no obligation to pay.

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Can you imagine the next chapters of this series. An old woman sitting in front of some Japanese company with a handkerchief in hand wiping her tears of crocodile and Japanese sensationalist tabloids as Asahi Shimbun publishing the title page : "Japanese Imperialism in debt to the past."

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It's a shame they are doing it only as a strategic business move and not out of genuine remorse.

Nobody working for that company today is in any way responsible for the actions of their predecessors. While they may have legal obligations over what happened in the past, they are not under any moral obligation to show "remorse".

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Thanks Fizzbit, Onsen, and others for giving the factual background to inform the discussion here.

These media sites that generate their revenue by stirring up "discussion" by providing bits misleading bits of "news" should really take a moment to think of the consequences of the discord they foment. People new to the topic really get the wrong end of the stick and end up appalled at one group or another, from lack of understanding of the background. News sources used to provide that background to deepen understanding. Now they thrive on creating misperceptions.

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It is easy to be cynical about this but at least they are prepared to accept the courts decision and get on with things. There may be a treaty but it doesn't mean that things are written in stone.

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borschtAug. 19, 2013 - 10:21AM JST

The court says they should pay about $360,000 and they worry about their bottom line. Hmm. How much have they paid their lawyers over the last 16 years?

Plus, if they were really worried about how the decision will affect their business partners in Korea, why are they appealing the sentence? Why not give their former slaves the equivalent of one executive's one-year entertainment budget?

That is because the lower court ruling is against the 1965 treaty. They are appealing the case for the sake of "rule of law". But rule of law may be too much to ask from Korean Supreme Court.

The Korean forced labor issue was brought to Japanese court and US court, but both courts turned down the claim. For US court ruling, see here.

By the way, those workers were not slaves. They were conscripted workers.

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The Japan Times carries the more complete article. This one has been trimmed to the point of being rather misleading.

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I guess that is the question- who were they suing? Yawata Seitetsu or Fuji Seitetsu, or maybe they needed more money because the treaty was not spent on the people but on business.

and they cannot sue their own government

Remorse for company that did not exist back then? and trust me - in corporations after the mergers occur - the old identity dies with the old company

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Wow when I saw the headline I thought maybe a wrong was going to be admitted & something positive happen, but alas that was quickly dashed by Nippon Steel, even though this was covered in 1965 it would have been nice to have seen something positive for once from Japan, but not yet, if ever, another chance blown

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The court says they should pay about $360,000 and they worry about their bottom line. Hmm. How much have they paid their lawyers over the last 16 years?

Plus, if they were really worried about how the decision will affect their business partners in Korea, why are they appealing the sentence? Why not give their former slaves the equivalent of one executive's one-year entertainment budget?

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Why? Why? Why? The company should just ignore it this lawless verdict. Otherwise more to come situation will start. The issue has been solved for long time. I

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It's a shame they are doing it only as a strategic business move and not out of genuine remorse.

Tamarama, even though I am Korean and my views are hardly neutral on these issues, I think it's asking too much for them to show 'genuine remorse' for something that happened so long ago. Any compensation is gesture of goodwill more than anything.

I do understand Japanese perspective on this issue, that 1965 treaty absolves Japan of any further liability. I have to take some time and look into it in some depth to have an informed opinion myself..

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The legal issue in contention has no relevance to the numbers of forced laborers.

There are 4 plaintiffs in this law suit. Not 780,000.

The issue is whether the 1965 Treaty of Normalization can be regarded as covering for individual litigation against individual legal entities. Japan Government's view is that it is covered, and reparations made already. Hence NSSMC are stating that any claims should be addressed to the Korean Government (who neglected to pay out the majority of compensation to individuals and used the money for domestic expansion including ironically Posco).

What is relevant is how the world will see the conclusion of this trial in terms of a change in Korean risk. The issue is the interpretation of the 1965 Treaty. If Korea's Supreme Court finally judges against NSSMC, they will have provided a legal domestic precedent that International Treaties can be overturned by their domestic legal system.

From NSSMC's viewpoint, they can only do one of the following:-

1) Settle out of court before the Supreme Court's ruling 2) Accept the Supreme Court's ruling 3) Refuse to pay against the Supreme Court's ruling if they lose

1) is not an option from the financial point of view as it is considered that the plaintiffs would demand more than the current demand (as there are more retributions wanted without legal basis) so the risk of paying more than the penalty would become considerably higher.

3) will mean that it is most likely that legal proceeding will ensue to secure SSNMC's financial property which in actual case be the seizing of trade accounts receivables, which in turn will mean causing inconvenience with their current trade partners as well as negatively intefering with all foreign customers.

So 2 is their current plan as revealed in this news report.

SSNMC is no small company. I am sure that they have a group of experienced International legal experts to advise and formulate their defence of this lawsuit in every detail. But it must be noted that there is probably a reason that they "leaked" their plan before the final ruling has been made, which is rather unusual in a lawsuit.

My view is that this is to make public their view is that no out of court settlement will be made (which some Korean analysts have suggested) and to force the hand of the Supreme Court to make a ruling on this matter.

I think that the Supreme Court will make a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs BUT with a considerably reduced sum of the penalty amount. This would be the comprise that would work out best for all parties. The Koreans will be ecstatic of any wins against the Japanese, the Supreme Court can justify their actions that their ruling is only a fringe interpretation of the 1965 Treaty and the Korean Goverment doesn't have to get involved and be responsible in paying such reparations themselves and the increase in the world's view of Korean risk may be minimized.

Remember that it is more than possible that SSNMC shareholders could bring their own lawsuit against the management of SSNMC if it is their view that the 1965 Treaty is valid. If the share prices for SSNMC tumbles due to this ruling, I am sure that the shareholders will not keep quiet either.

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The compensation was paid though the 1965 treaty.

darknutsAug. 19, 2013 - 08:51AM JST

This will set a bad precedent. It'll be open season on them.

So true. The management of Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal may think it an end to the dispute, but it is only the beginning of the nightmares. They will, of course, demand apologies from the present management team. They will demand that memorials of "forced laborers" be build in every factory or office of the company. They will demand that every employee must remember them everyday when he/she comes to the office. If the company fail to do any of those things, they will accuse the apology is not sincere.

The same pattern repeats one after another in the history of Japan Korea relations. In the 1600's when the sovereignty of Ul Leung Do was disputed, Japanese side conceded the island, thinking concession will result in better relationship between the 2 countries. But after Japanese conceded the island, Korean side demanded apologies for "falsely having claimed the island". As a result, the relationship further deteriorated. Japanese make concessions to mend the relationship. Koreans think that a concession is a sign of weakness and try to leverage and to capitalize on it.

Most recently, when Japanese PM Kan gave Koreans Korean old books which were legally Japanese property to improve the relationship, Koreans demanded apologies for stealing the books and made the books proof of theft.

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I'm sure this has been brought up before, but this is from Wiki:

However, the South Korean government used most of the grants for economic development,[10] failing to provide adequate compensation to victims by paying only 300,000 won per death in compensating victims of forced labor between 1975 and 1977.[8] Instead, the government spent most of the money establishing social infrastructures, founding POSCO, building Gyeongbu Expressway and the Soyang Dam with the technology transfer from Japanese companies.[11]

As the result of this revelation, there have been growing calls for the Korean government to compensate the victims. A survey conducted shortly after the disclosure showed that more than 70 percent of Korean people believe the South Korean government should bear responsibility to pay for those victims (ibid.). The South Korean government announced that it will establish a team to deal with the appeals for compensation, although "It has been the government's position that compensation for losses during the Japanese occupation has already been settled".[12]

I believe that all the " publicized" animosity between the two countries' most vocal protesters, has brought this on. The South Korean government is just watching from the Box seats, having a beer and smirking, IMO. They are the ones who should be compensating the workers.

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When is this going to stop?

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Back on topic please.

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the massacre of Koreans during the Great Kanto Earthquake just out of rumors that they were poisoning the water

This is a little known fact in Japan. Shows how disasters can bring out the ugly side of human beings in big disasters.

Link to article from Brown University website:

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It is a fact that Koreans were a target of discrimination and abuse by the japanese even before WWII. Consider for example, the massacre of Koreans during the Great Kanto Earthquake just out of rumors that they were poisoning the water when in fact the water had turned dirty because of ashes falling from the raging fires that swept across. It is reasonable to believe the claims from these courts. In light of the atrocities and enslavement that went on, why would somebody have to make it up when the World knows what went on. The burden of proof should be on the perpetrator, not the victim. If you play with fire, be ready to get burned.

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granny granny, im sorry for your black history during the wartime, lets sue the japanese government, let them pay! after all you are already 80 yrs old, when you die soon the money will pass down to me right? love ya granny!

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More whining from Koreans. So what else is new. Forget the 1965 treaty; claim anything to get money from Japan.

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This will set a bad precedent. It'll be open season on them.

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The original Japan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. (Nippon Steel) existed since 1934. Under the 1965 Japan- Korea Treaty, there is no obligation to pay.

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Fair play.

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Ok I see well fair is fair Japan need pay their mistakes and move on!

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"It is difficult to ignore a final decision as it can affect our business partners there"

So, it's difficult to ignore court rulings in foreign countries if your business partners can be affected.

Otherwise, no problem..

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Ditto Tamarama and Shankun!

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lol at Nippon Steel for talking outright that it could harm their image and financial deals in SK rather than feeling guilty for Korean labourers ;)

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Get over it already! So many of my ancestors have been slaughtered, I thank god my parents and their generation moved on and stopped living in the past so I didn't have to carry this burden with me and like Tamarama says, it's most likely not genuine anyways.

-7 ( +14 / -21 )

Not sure how anyone at Nippon Steel is suppose to feel "remorse: when Nippon Steel didn't even exist until 1970. The bad side is that this will set a precedent in South Korean courts where anyone and anything can and will sue Japanese companies completely ignoring the South Korea-Japan Treaty of 1965. The good side is that no one will be able to sue Nippon Steel again for the same thing. Furthermore, let's face it, USD 360,000 is absolutely nothing to a company the size of Nippon Steel. But what's ironic here is that some of the money the Japanese government paid to compensate "individual" such as forced labor victims, was spent by the South Korean government to create POSCO - Pohang Steel Works, S.Korea. Seems to me that's the steel company that should be making the payment.

4 ( +25 / -21 )

It's a shame they are doing it only as a strategic business move and not out of genuine remorse.

16 ( +27 / -11 )

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