South Korea’s claims against Japan speed up, Japanese companies’ assets may be auctioned

  □ reporter Wang Gang

  The Daejeon District Court of South Korea sent a notice to a Japanese company involved in the forced labor compensation case during World War II-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries sent the "Notice on Requesting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to Submit a Reply to the Order of Selling Its Property in Korea" at 0:00 on November 10 Officially came into effect.

  Mitsubishi assets in South Korea may be auctioned

  Earlier, five people including Yang Jinde (91 years old) and their survivors, a Korean forced labor victim of World War II, filed a claim against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in the Gwangju District Court in October 2012.

In November 2018, the Supreme Court of South Korea ruled that the plaintiff won the case and sentenced the defendant to compensate each plaintiff with 100 to 150 million won (approximately RMB 5.885 to 882,700) in compensation.

  But Mitsubishi has not responded to this.

The plaintiff applied to the Daejeon District Court on March 7 last year for a seizure order of 2 trademark rights and 6 patent rights that Mitsubishi had applied for in Korea. The application was accepted on the 22nd of the same month.

The plaintiff applied for a sale order against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ assets in Korea in July of the same year.

On September 7 this year, the Daejeon District Court issued the "Notice on Requesting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to submit a plea for the sale of its properties in Korea."

According to Korean law, service by public notice is to serve litigation documents by public announcement, and the service is deemed to be service after a certain period of time prescribed by law.

  The defense attorney for South Korea’s victims of forced labor in World War II said that since the defendant has not responded to the court, the plaintiff cannot just wait.

  In addition, the Datian District Court also sent documents regarding the order of seizure by way of public notice, and the order will take effect from 0:00 on the 30th of next month.

The court may decide whether to auction compensation after the document becomes effective.

  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries stated that the case has been finally resolved in accordance with the "Korea-Japan Claim Agreement" and the South Korean side has no right to make any claims on related matters.

  Some analysts believe that even if the relevant judgment is legally effective, it does not mean that the relevant assets will be seized and auctioned immediately.

Whether or not to auction Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ assets in South Korea will still need to be decided by the court after reviewing the data.

If Mitsubishi Heavy Industries filed a protest in this regard, it must go through judicial procedures again.

  New developments in many class actions

  At the same time, another lawsuit against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' victims of forced labor during the Japanese colonial period opened again on November 12.

In response to the compensation case filed by 12 victims and their survivors against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the 14th Civil Division of the Gwangju District Court held a second court debate on the 12th.

  The plaintiff’s attorney stated that it is difficult for the plaintiff to obtain relevant information about the compulsory expropriation from Japan in view of the deterioration of relations between South Korea and Japan. Therefore, the plaintiff applied to the court to submit a documentary order requiring the defendant to surrender information related to the death and injury related to the compulsory expropriation and related to the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare. recording.

  The trial judge agreed to the plaintiff’s request in court, but the defendant’s lawyer filed a protest to the Gwangju High Court.

The defendant claimed that neither the past nor the current Mitsubishi Heavy Industries kept relevant data.

  In April last year and January this year, victims of forced labor during World War II in Gwangju and South Jeolla Province initiated class actions against Japanese companies.

  South Korean courts have also made new progress in the litigation filed by the Japanese government by the comfort women survivors.

The 15th Civil Division of the Seoul Central District Court is hearing the late Guo Yinan and other comfort women victims’ claims against the Japanese government. On November 10th, they received a letter of opinion from Christine Chin Kim, an authoritative professor of international law in the United Kingdom. Refute the principle of "national sovereignty immunity" advocated by Japan.

  In accordance with the principle of "national sovereignty immunity", the Japanese government did not recognize South Korea's judgment and refused to respond to the lawsuit.

The principle of "national sovereign immunity" means that the behavior and property of a country are not subject to (or exempt from) the jurisdiction of other countries' legislation, justice and administration.

Qin Jin retorted in his opinion: “Japan’s sexual slavery and forced sex transactions cannot be classified as sovereign acts. Compulsory sex transactions are commercial behaviors and crimes that seek monetary gains with low or no remuneration. This behavior is not a state. Sovereign acts, therefore, the principle of'national sovereign immunity' should not be applied."

  Qin Jin pointed out that if the principle of "state sovereignty immunity" is applied to the issue of comfort women, it does not conform to the international law trend of treating sexual violence as the most serious international crime in the context of wars and disputes in the past 20 years.

She suggested that since the United Nations and the International Court of Justice have limited recognition of the principle of "state sovereign immunity" and are moving in the direction of ensuring that the state is responsible for victims of sexual crimes, the courts should also accept these voices.

  Chin Jin served as the presiding judge of the "Japanese International Tribunal for Women Sex Slaves and War Criminals" in Tokyo in 2000, and brought the issue of comfort women to court in the international community.

Twenty years ago, Qin Jin heard the testimony of 78 victimized women from Asian countries in a non-legally binding international civil court, and showed the facts of their victimization to the international community.

At present, two lawsuits against the victims of comfort women brought by the Japanese government will be judged within this year.

  Japan says it will take retaliatory measures

  Recently, the South Korean and Japanese governments have conducted frequent consultations on historical issues.

South Korea’s National Affairs Director Park Ji-won ended a four-day trip to Japan on November 11, mainly discussing outstanding issues between Korea and Japan such as compensation for forced labor in World War II.

This is the first time a high-ranking person from South Korea has visited Japan after Yoshihide Suga became Japanese prime minister, so it has attracted much attention.

  Park Ji-won called on Suga Yoshihide on the 10th and conveyed the wish of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to restore relations between South Korea and Japan.

Suga Yoshihide welcomed Park Ji-won's visit to Japan and asked the South Korean side to provide solutions to the problem of forced labor in World War II.

  According to Japanese media reports, the Japanese government is considering the actual sale of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ assets in South Korea as a “red line” and is preparing to take a variety of retaliatory measures, including the seizure of South Korean assets in Japan, raising import tariffs on Korean goods, restricting Korean visas to Japan, Recall the ambassador to South Korea, etc.

  However, there are also views that it is not easy for Japan to take retaliatory measures against South Korea.

South Korean diplomatic sources said that the Tokyo Summer Olympics will be held next year, and Biden, who attaches importance to relations with allies, is expected to be elected as the new president of the United States. Therefore, it is actually very difficult for Japan to take strong retaliatory measures against South Korea.