Japanese Cargo Ship Released After Owner Pays Wartime Debt to China
Today a court in Shanghai ordered the release of a Japanese vessel who had been seized while docking on a port in Zhejiang Province.
The ship had been seized after the Shanghai Maritime Court had ruled that the owner, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, had to pay a civil compensation for two vessels that the company had leased during the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45 and that had been lost during the conflict. The owner agreed to pay in order to avoid further litigations.
This move by a Chinese court is seen as yet another sign that the PRC is becoming ever more assertive and is openly challenging Japan.
In 1972, China and Japan had signed a Joint Communique in which Japan stated that “the Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damages that Japan caused to the Chinese people through war in the past”, while China declared that “in the interest of the friendship between the Chinese and Japanese people, China renounces its demands for war reparations from Japan”.
However, the question of whether the agreement between the two governments also includes Chinese nationals is not entirely solved. In 2007, the Hiroshima High Court ruled that the Communique did not extinguish the obligation of the Japanese government to respond to wartime abuse claims by Chinese nationals. Other Japanese courts have subsequently ruled otherwise.