• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:01pm

Shanghai court seizes Japanese ore carrier in second world war reparations dispute

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 3:21am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 6:24am

A court in Shanghai has seized a large Japanese ore carrier at a port in Zhejiang province to enforce a verdict seeking compensation for the sinking of two civilian Chinese cargo ships during the second world war.

Shanghai Maritime Court said on its website on Saturday that it had impounded the vessel Baosteel Emotion, which is owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines of Tokyo, in connection with a lawsuit concerning wartime reparations involving Chinese and Japanese shipping companies. The vessel is berthed at Majishan port.

The dispute stems from a deal in the 1930s between Chung Wei Steamship Company and the Japanese shipping firm. Two ships leased to the Japanese firm were "taken over" after war broke out, but were later sunk.

Chung Wei moved to Hong Kong in the 1950s and the Japanese firm merged with Navix Line, which in turn merged with Mitsui.

Two grandchildren of Chung Wei's owner, Chen Zhen and Chen Chun, filed the landmark lawsuit against Navix in 1988 with the Shanghai Maritime Court, seeking wartime reparations of US$160 million.

The maritime court awarded the Chens nearly 3 billion yen in damages and compensation in 2007. The Supreme People's Court rejected the Japanese company's appeal in 2010, according to the maritime court.

The Shanghai court served an enforcement notice on Mitsui in late 2011 but negotiations between the Chens and Mitsui ended with no result, prompting the court to seize Baosteel Emotion on Saturday.

Chen Rulang, a lawyer specialising in maritime lawsuits in Shanghai, said mainland courts had rarely, if ever, taken such a tough stance to recover wartime reparations from Japan.

"The verdict has been made so the action is absolutely legal, but it is quite unusual. In my memory there was not another case," he said, adding that Mitsui had only two options: pay the money or lose the ship.

The Japanese company could not be reached for comment yesterday.


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This article is now closed to comments

Jonathan Smith
By the end of 1945 Japan have looted 100 Billion USD from the occupied countries in the form of gold and other valuables. After Japan's unconditional surrender till now, Japan have not paid 1 cent in reparations to the victims of Japanese barbarism. Actions against the Japanese criminals with regards to stolen property is a necessary step in obtaining justice for the victims of Japanese aggression.
How About
Now let's see if the Japanese can respect a rule of law, or how soon will Mitsui begin to beg big brother Obama to tone up his script for their boats?
A typical Chinese extortion racket. Goes to show that even the courts are part of and run by the criminal organisation which is the CCP.
Jonathan Smith
You are only too happy to see Japanese barbarism and injustice. You certainly have a place of honour at the Yasukuni War Shrine.
re Sino Japanese JC 1972
Rolftsui overlooks
(1) Japanese government owes PRC perpetual gratitude
for forgiving japan from government to government war repatriation
(2) PRC has never exonerated Japanese and the Japanese government
from Chinese claims on official and private liabilities to war damages
(3) Clause 3 of JC refers to Potsdam Declaration Article 8 which excludes Ryuku Islands from Japan
and gracefully allow the Japanese nation to survive in four Japanese Islands
re Jonathan Smith
War loots probably a more significant cause of Japanese post war development
than US technology. Without war loots, Japanese women would be competing
with other SE Asians as helpers here
How About
"There are no baddies and goodies in war" - no right or wrong and shades of grey, baloney! Problem about moving on is that you must concede you're wrong before you can move on, that's why Japan and USA are still cocooned in a virtual reality 70 years ago. For objectivity go and poll all other nations in ASEAN and find out how they feel about Japan; but perhaps the more pertinent question is why. In whatever ages, forgiveness can only be granted and given, not expected nor can it be demanded.
"Hiroshima and Nagasaki ", you hit the nail again, USA didn't have to drop those 2 A-bombs and Japan would have shortly surrendered, check your war annals where the Soviets were in Manchuria and why no sane analysts thereafer agreed Truman or the USA had the moral prerogative to have used the bombs. So if there was one guilty party for Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was the USA.
There- a couple of 70 year old question that no one in the West want to admit or settle!
Adrenaline running high in early Monday morning. You are in good form, Wagner! Let us know if you learn any new vocabulary this week, other than "typical Chinese" and "CCP".
How About
The Treaty of San Francisco that neither PRC or ROC were invited to ratify nor as signatory, that China objected to among other things, islands belonging to China before the WW2, the one that Japan was eternally grateful of otherwise their reparation would have taken them another 20 years to pay off, had China hypothetically ratified it?
Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China was signed in Beijing on September 29, 1972 - Article 5. Check it out.
There are no baddies and goodies in war, everyone is responsible and culpable. I ask you, who is going to compensate Japan and the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the world's first and only victims of NUCLEAR weapons of mass destruction? They are still suffering from the after effects. Who is going to compensate the innocent victims and their descendants from the after effects? Most if not all US Military Commanders were opposed to using this weapon.
War reparations de facto and de jure have been paid.
Time to settle this 70 year old argument and put it aside and start focussing on developing new and peaceful relations and co-existence.
All these comments are premature, because the story by Mr. Chen is incomplete in the absence of background concerning how these cases have been handled in the past both between Chinese and Japanese claimants and cross-national litigants, generally.
In my view, posting the report without any back ground isn't up to the usual standards of the SCMP and I'm surprised that it's been printed as is.
The reparations demanded of Germany by the winners after WW1 were a key factor in setting the stage for WW2, so I suspect that there will be considerable background -- probably regarding limitations imposed by treaty on lawsuits like this -- to report if our friend Mr. Chen gets around to reporting it.



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