A team of lawyers representing South Korean plaintiffs who were awarded damages in 2018 in a wartime labor case against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said Thursday it has filed a fresh lawsuit in Seoul to collect compensation from the major Japanese engineering company.
The lawsuit comes with Mitsubishi Heavy continuing to reject the payment of compensation in line with Tokyo's stance that the wartime issue has already been resolved.
Meanwhile, Seoul has proposed a plan to have South Korean companies compensate the plaintiffs through a public foundation.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday was on behalf of those awarded damages by the South Korean Supreme Court in the 2018 ruling but who have rejected the planned payment by the South Korean foundation.
The plaintiffs, Yang Gum Dok, 93, and the bereaved family of another former wartime laborer, seek to collect compensation by cashing in a monetary claim held by Mitsubishi Heavy against an affiliated MH Power Systems Korea Ltd. in Seoul, the defense team said.
Their counsel said it had already seized Mitsubishi Heavy's monetary claim in 2021.
The counsel said it is "making efforts to receive compensation for the victims, who are rejecting the solution measures (by the South Korean government), by swiftly converting (Mitsubishi Heavy's monetary claims) into cash" as such a method would provide compensation to the plaintiffs more quickly.
In November 2018, the South Korea's Supreme Court ordered Mitsubishi Heavy to pay damages to two groups of South Koreans for wartime forced labor, following a similar order the previous month against another Japanese company.
The back-to-back rulings by the Supreme Court provoked fierce opposition from the Japanese government, which maintains the issue of compensation over Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula as already settled under a 1965 treaty, and further deteriorated already frayed bilateral ties.
In an effort to mend ties, the government of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May last year, announced steps to resolve the issue on March 6.
The solution proposed a government-backed foundation, supported by donations from South Korean businesses, paying a sum of money equivalent to the amount ordered by the top court.
Some plaintiffs have opposed the solution, demanding Japan issues a fresh apology and Japanese companies pay compensation directly.