Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit

"The Tokyo District Court on Monday dismissed a group damages lawsuit filed against the central government by civilian victims of a U.S. bombing raid that devastated the capital during World War II.

"The 131 plaintiffs either were injured or lost relatives in the Great Tokyo Air Raid of March 10, 1945, which left an estimated 100,000 people dead. They sought an apology and compensation for their suffering.

"It was the first group lawsuit filed by civilian victims of U.S. air raids on Japan.

"The outcome hinged on whether the court accepts the government's argument that suffering resulting from the war had to be "equally endured" by the population.

"In its ruling Monday, the court said the feelings of the plaintiffs, who had suffered immeasurably, were understandable, but that the government was not legally obliged to extend relief.

"The court said the issue must be resolved through legislation.

"The plaintiffs sought 1.44 billion yen in total compensation, or 11 million yen each, for suffering that they said continued long after the war.

"Of the 131 plaintiffs, 124 were survivors of the firebombings that blanketed densely populated areas in Koto Ward and elsewhere. Eighty-four were younger than 15 at the time; 55 were orphaned.

"They said while the government provided compensation and other relief to those who served in the military and their bereaved families, it did nothing to help civilian victims of the war.

"The group also demanded an apology on grounds the government failed to thoroughly investigate the casualties and those left missing, or to recognize their suffering by building a memorial.

"They said it should be made clear that the government bore responsibility for starting the war.

"In arguing for the case to be dismissed, the government cited a 1987 Supreme Court ruling that rejected similar claims by two women seriously injured in air raids on Nagoya in 1945.

"The top court's second petty bench at that time said war damage or sacrifice had to be equally endured by the people in an emergency situation where the state's survival was at stake.

"The Tokyo plaintiffs had countered that their compensation claims were for the government's failure to extend relief after the war, not for direct damage from the war.

"They also said the government had selectively assisted certain groups of civilians, including those who had been repatriated from abroad.

"The suit was filed first in March 2007 by 112 people, one of whom later withdrew. Twenty more joined the suit a year later.

"In December 2008, 18 people similarly sued the government in relation to the Osaka air raid of March 1945.

"The welfare ministry declined to comment. The Tokyo group said it will file an appeal."

By Asahi Shimbun (12/15/2009), Link to article (last visited 12/16/2009)

1 comment:

Mikethelawstudent said...

Wow, that is facinating. Is there any sort of statute of limitations for a civil suit of that kind in Japan (I'm assuming there isn't if its gotten that far).