Friday, Dec. 9, 2011
OSAKA — The Osaka District Court has dismissed a damages suit filed against the government by a group of civilian victims and relatives of people who died or were injured in U.S. air raids on Osaka and elsewhere near the end of World War II.
While acknowledging the long-term pain and hardships endured by the plaintiffs, Judge Yoshihisa Kurono said Wednesday the government shares no liability as there was "no gross deviation from its discretionary right in not legislating for redress measures."
The suit was filed by 23 plaintiffs seeking ¥11 million each and an apology from the government for not offering victims and their relatives redress for their suffering.
The plaintiffs included people aged between 69 and 82 who experienced the raids in Shizuoka, Osaka, Hyogo, Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures from March to August 1945.
The plaintiffs criticized the government for waging a "reckless war" and magnifying the damage by stipulating a law requiring civilians to stay put and extinguish fires during raids.
They asserted that the government "did not perform redress through legislation for nearly 70 years following the war," arguing that it violated constitutionally guaranteed equality under the law by permitting only former soldiers and atomic bomb survivors to become eligible for compensation.
In the ruling, Kurono said the government didn't violate the Constitution, stating that the court couldn't find any "unreasonable disparity" between its treatment of ordinary people and soldiers and atomic bomb survivors.
The plaintiffs argued that eight raids were carried out on Osaka Prefecture involving more than 100 planes between March 13 and Aug. 14, 1945, one day before Japan surrendered, killing more than 15,000 people.
In December 2009, the Tokyo District Court dismissed a similar suit filed in connection with the 1945 raids on Tokyo, saying almost everyone in the country suffered in the war and it is impossible to determine who deserves redress.
It also ruled that the question of redress should be resolved through the legislative process.
That ruling has been appealed and the Tokyo High Court is scheduled to hand down a ruling April 25.