SHANGHAI:  More than 100 lawyers, non-governmental officials, professors and victims of World War II from Japan, the United States and China attended the International Seminar on Legal Issues Concerning War Compensation in Shanghai over the weekend. The two-day conference aimed to provide a detailed discussion on war reparation issues between individual victims and the Japanese Government. Since Chinese victims started to pursue compensation from the Japanese Government over 20 years ago, more and more cases have cropped up. "But judgments in Japanese courts can hardly be said to be fair," said He Qinhua, president of the East China University of Politics and Law, where the event was held. Since Chinese people first sued the Japanese Government for compensation in 1995, over 20 cases have been filed in Japan. But there has been virtually no progress at all, according to Ding Wei, a professor at the university. According to the Japanese Government, the reason for not giving compensation to individual victims is that there is no specific, foolproof law allowing them to seek compensation from the state. The government has also said The Hague Convention is not applicable to Japan. "In a word, whether the victims of World War II have an appeal right for reparation is always a problem in Japan," Ding Wei said. "What we want to do is to pursue compensation for victims through legal means." The problem has also been acknowledged in Japan. "Our government didn't pay compensation for its crimes, it is escaping the responsibility and won't do any good to itself in the long term," said Tsuchiya Koken, former chairman of the Japan Bar Association. "I feel sorry for such a government." At the seminar, he called on the Japanese Government to distribute compensation by means of an apology as soon as possible. He also wants Japanese courts to be open to the public when hearing such cases so that Japanese people can know the truth. In such circumstances, more people will pursue cases in a third country, according to Ding. There are now several cases relating to Asian victims seeking reparation from Japan being heard in the United States. The most famous is the case of the 15 Asian "comfort" women - including four Chinese - who sued the Japanese Government in 2000. Most cases haven't reached a conclusion yet, according to Barry A. Fisher, a lawyer involved in reparation suits in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.



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