Court orders sale of Mitsubishi assets to compensate wartime forced labor

September 27, 2021

A court on Monday ordered the sale of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.’s assets here to compensate wartime forced labor victims.

The ruling marked the first time that a South Korean court has ordered the liquidation of Japanese corporate assets in a damages suit filed by workers mobilized to forced labor during World War II.

The Daejeon District Court ordered the sale of Mitsubishi’s two copyrights and two patents to compensate two female plaintiffs.

The order is expected to raise enough cash to offer an estimated 209 million won (US$176,000) per victim, including interest and compensation for delayed payments.

Mitsubishi reportedly said it will appeal the ruling.

In 2018, the top court ordered Mitsubishi to compensate the workers. But Mitsubishi refused to comply with the ruling, saying the reparation issue was fully and finally settled by a treaty signed between the two nations in 1965 to normalize ties.

The plaintiffs asked a Daejeon court in the central city to seize the company’s assets in South Korea, and the court accepted their request in March 2019.

The Japanese firm appealed that decision. After an appellate court rejected its appeal in February, the firm brought the case to the Supreme Court, and the top court dismissed its claim again earlier this month.

Korea was under Japan’s brutal colonial rule from 1910-45. South Korea says Japanese leaders do not sincerely repent for the country’s past wrongdoings and refuse to take full legal responsibility. Japan claims all reparation issues were settled in the 1965 treaty.