SEOUL, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- A group of 33 South Korean wartime forced labor victims and their families on Tuesday lodged a damage lawsuit against six Japanese companies that forced the victims into hard labor without pay during the Pacific War, according to Yonhap news agency.
The local civic group citizen's forum for "halmuni", or grandmother in Korean, and the non-governmental organization Lawyers for a Democratic Society filed the compensation suit on behalf of two surviving victims, and 31 deceased victims represented by their decendants. They live in South Jeolla province and Gwangju city, around 330 km south of the capital Seoul.
Fifteen plaintiffs lodged suits against Hokkaido Coal and Boat Co., nine against Mitsubishi Mining Co., four against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, three against Mitsui Mining Co., one against Nishimatsu Construction and one against Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
The Hokkaido Cola and Boat already went bankrupt, but the 15 plaintiffs participated in the class action to express their will to let Japan acknowledge the illegality of wartime forced labor and apologize for it, according to Yonhap.
It was the second such class action by the civic groups. In April 2019, the two groups lodged a similar damage lawsuit against Japanese companies on behalf of 54 South Korean victims and their bereaved families living in the South Jeolla-Gwangju region.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in his New Year's press conference earlier in the day that what would be the most important thing in resolving the forced labor issue would be to come up with solutions approved by the victims.
South Korea's top court delivered rulings that ordered some of Japanese companies to pay reparation to the victims who were forced into heavy labor without pay during the 1910-1945 Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
As a result, Japan tightened control in July over its export to South Korea of three materials, vital to producing memory chips and display panels.
In August, Japan dropped South Korea off its whitelist of trusted trading partners that are given preferential export procedure. In response, Seoul removed Tokyo from its whitelist of trusted export partners.
South Korea believed that Japan's export curbs came in protest of the South Korean top court's rulings.