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Japan firms urged to pay victims of colonialism

SEOUL -- South Korea's government was urged Friday to show support for victims of Japan's colonial role, following a landmark legal ruling that Japanese companies should compensate conscripted Korean workers.

The calls came after the Supreme Court Thursday overturned earlier rulings that nine conscripted laborers or their relatives were not entitled to damages from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel for unpaid wages and suffering.

The Supreme Court sent the cases back to the high courts for retrial, sparking calls for the South Korean government to push Japan into taking responsibility for past actions.

South Korea received US$500 million in grants and low-interest loans from Japan as compensation for colonial rule when they restored diplomatic ties in 1965.

However the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state and individuals were separate entities and the 1965 treaty did not affect individuals' rights.

JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said the administration had come in for criticism for neglecting the issue of victims of Japan's 1910-45 occupation of Korea.

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