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Japanese courts have been dealing with post-WWII compensation cases from foreigners since approximately 1990. In the cases of POWs, forced laborers, and comfort women, some lower courts have awarded compensation, but most of them have not. There are many legal obstacles for plaintiffs in such cases, including: sovereign immunity; statutes of limitations; and waiver of claims under the San Francisco Peace Treaty. There have been developments in each legal theory and some lower courts have departed from the traditional views and removed one or more of these obstacles. More recently, some plaintiffs sued the Japanese government based on international law. Though these developments became irrelevant to post-WWII compensation cases after the Supreme Court rejected the claims by applying a provision of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 2007, they are still worth review in order to obtain the whole picture of post-WWII compensation cases.

To provide a broader view, this article discusses Japanese plaintiffs claims against the Japanese government. They were rejected under the theory of war damages. This article also mentions what and how much the Japanese government paid to other countries to compensate damages caused by WWII.

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Prepared by Sayuri Umeda, Senior Foreign Law Specialist

September 2008

Last Updated: 06/09/2015