【英语中国】分析:中国法院扣押日企船舶 Japanese ship seized in wartime claims row

  • A+
所属分类:双语中国

2014-4-22 06:47

小艾摘要: A Chinese court has seized a Japanese cargo ship over legal claims related to the second world war as escalating tensions between the two countries spill into the realm of commerce.Japan was quick to ...
Japanese ship seized in wartime claims row
A Chinese court has seized a Japanese cargo ship over legal claims related to the second world war as escalating tensions between the two countries spill into the realm of commerce.

Japan was quick to denounce the confiscation of the vessel, warning it could have a “chilling effect on all Japanese companies doing business in China”. It is the first time a Chinese court has ordered the seizure of Japanese assets in relation to second world war.

“We are deeply apprehensive, and strongly hope that China will respond appropriately,” said Yoshihide Suga, the country’s top government spokesman.

The incident underlines strained relations between China and Japan, who have recently sparred over a string of disputed islands that some analysts say is the most dangerous faultline in Asia. Extensive economic ties between the two countries have so far served to stabilise the relationship.

It comes on the eve Barack Obama’s much-trailed visit to Asia, which is intended to reassure allies the US remains committed to the region in the face of China’s rising influence. The US President arrives in Tokyo on Wednesday, where he will be pressed for support over what Japan sees as coercive attempts by China to upset the postwar order in the region.

The Shanghai Maritime Court seized the Baosteel Emotion at a port near Shanghai at the weekend, it said on its website. The ship belongs to Japanese conglomerate Mitsui OSK Lines and had been ferrying Australian iron ore to China’s flagship steel mill Baosteel.

The dispute stems from two ships leased to a Japanese shipping line by Chung Wei Steamship, which were commandeered by the Japanese navy in 1937 as it prepared to invade China. One ship was wrecked carrying coal in a typhoon off Japan in 1938 while the Shun Feng was sunk by a torpedo off the Chinese coast in 1944. Through a series of takeovers, Mitsui OSK is heir to the shipping lines that operated the ships after they were requisitioned by the Japanese navy.

Japan has consistently argued that the peace treaties it signed after the war exempt it from having to pay compensation to individuals or companies in former enemy countries. But China and South Korea, which nurse the strongest resentment over Japan’s often brutal imperial expansion, counter that the agreements only cover government-to-government reparations, leaving private groups free to sue for damages.

Still, for many years China discouraged any claims by its citizens against Japan, whether for forced labour, sexual slavery or asset seizures. Former premier Zhou Enlai explicitly rejected the prospect of any Chinese wartime claims, in return for assurances of Japanese development aid and investment. As a result, Chinese activists have had to pursue claims in Japanese courts.

“Overall China is dissatisfied with Japan, so a lot of matters have re-emerged,” said Shen Dingli, an expert in Northeast Asian geopolitics at Fudan University in Shanghai. “In the past they might have discouraged suits like this but now they don’t stand in the way.”

Last year, South Korean courts ruled against Japanese corporations in two landmark cases involving Koreans forced into labour for the Japanese war effort.

Qin Gang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, called the case “a common commercial contract dispute”. He told reporters on Monday that the Chinese government continues to uphold the principles laid out in 1972, when the two countries normalised relations.

The case is a rare victory for the descendants of Chen Shuntong, the owner of Chung Wei Steamship Co, who lost his fortune in the war. Mr Chen, his son, and his grandson all died awaiting compensation for two ships seized by the Japanese navy; his great-grandson David Chen, whose Chinese name Chungwei reflects the family’s history, has rejected settlement offers from the Japanese company.

“We were in negotiations with them about a settlement so we are very surprised about their sudden decision. We cannot accept it,” a Mitsui spokesperson said. “We are checking the details and now studying what next steps we should take.”

The company said in a 2006 filing that the Chung Wei claim was initially launched in 1990 for Y31.3bn ($305m), but rejected on procedural grounds in the mid-1990s. It was reopened in 2003 by Chen Shuntong’s grandsons.

Mitsui noted at the time that this case and another similar claim for Y1.2bn for a ship originally belonging to Dah Loh Industrial Co could “adversely affect the financial condition of Mitsui OSK lines” if awarded in full.

The Shanghai Maritime Court said it awarded Y2.9bn in compensation to the two grandsons in 2010, and that Mitsui’s appeal and request to reopen the case were both rejected by higher courts.

It awarded $9.45m to plaintiffs in the Dah Loh case. The court said that case was settled last year by Mitsui and Dah Loh’s legal representative.

Additional reporting by Owen Guo in Beijing and Geoff Dyer in Washington

中国一家法院就涉及第二次世界大战的索赔诉讼扣押一艘日本货轮。两国之间不断升级的紧张局势蔓延到商业领域。

日本很快谴责扣船举动,警告此举可能“对在中国开展业务的所有日本企业产生寒蝉效应”。这是中国法院首次以涉及二战的诉讼请求为依据,下令扣押日本资产。

“我们对此深感忧虑,强烈希望中国官方能做出适当的反应,”日本政府首席发言人、内阁官房长官菅义伟(Yoshihide Suga)表示。

这一事件突显中国和日本之间的紧张关系,两国近年围绕一个争议岛群发生争执,一些分析人士称,这个岛群已成为亚洲最危险的裂痕。两国间广泛而密切的经贸纽带迄今帮助稳定着中日关系。

此事发生之际,巴拉克?奥巴马(Barack Obama)即将对亚洲进行令人瞩目的访问,此行意在给美国的盟友打气:面对中国不断上升的影响力,美国将坚守对亚洲的承诺。美国总统定于周三抵达东京,届时日方将强烈要求他给予支持,应对日本眼里中国推翻亚洲战后秩序的强势企图心。

上海海事法院在网站上宣布,周末在上海附近的一个港口对“Baosteel Emotion”轮实施扣押。该船属于日本企业集团商船三井(Mitsui OSK Lines),此前承运澳大利亚铁矿石至中国旗舰钢厂宝钢(Baosteel)。

这起纠纷源于中威轮船公司(Chung Wei Steamship)租给日本一家班轮航运公司、随后于1937年被准备侵华的日本海军征用的两艘船。其中一艘于1938年在日本近海运输煤炭时被台风摧毁,另一艘(“顺丰”轮)1944年在中国近海被一枚鱼雷击沉。经历一系列收购交易后,商船三井成了在日本海军征用后经营这两艘船的航运公司的继承人。

日本一直主张,战后签署的和平条约使其免于承担向前敌方国家的个人或企业支付赔偿的义务。但是,对于日本经常行为残暴的帝国扩张最为耿耿于怀的中国和韩国反驳称,此类协议仅涵盖政府对政府的赔偿,私人群体可以自由起诉,要求获得损害赔偿金。

尽管如此,多年来中国并不鼓励本国公民向日本索偿,无论案由是强迫劳役、性奴役还是资产扣押。前总理周恩来明确排除中国方面提出任何战时索赔的前景,以换取日本提供发展援助和投资的保证。其结果是,中国的活动人士不得不在日本法院提起索赔诉讼。

“总体来说,中国对日本不满,所以很多老账被翻出来了,”上海复旦大学东北亚地缘政治专家沈丁立表示。“过去他们可能不鼓励这样的诉讼,但现在他们不挡路。”

去年,韩国法院在两起具有里程碑意义的案件中作出对日本企业不利的裁决,涉及当年被强征为苦力、为日本的战争努力效力的朝鲜人。

中国外交部发言人秦刚将此案形容为“一起普通商事合同纠纷案”。他在周一告诉记者,中国政府将继续坚持1972年两国关系正常化时奠定的原则。

此案是中威轮船公司老板、在战争期间失去家产的陈顺通的后人所取得的罕见的胜利。陈顺通本人、他的儿子和一个孙子都在等待就被日本海军扣押的两艘船获得赔偿期间去世;他的重孙陈中威(David Chen)——其中文名字反映了家族历史——拒绝了日本公司的和解提议。

“我们在与他们谈判以求达成和解,因此我们对他们的突然决定非常意外。我们不能接受,”一名三井发言人表示。“我们正在检查细节,研究接下来我们该采取什么步骤。”

该公司在2006年递交法院的一份文件中表示,中威诉讼最初在1990年提起,索赔313亿日元(合3.05亿美元),但在上世纪90年代中期被法院以程序上的理由驳回。2003年,陈顺通的两个孙子再度提起诉讼。

三井当时指出,这起案件,以及另一起类似案件——就原来属于大陆实业股份有限公司(Dah Loh Industrial Co)的一艘船索赔12亿日元,若被判全额赔偿,可能“对商船三井的财务状况产生不利影响”。

上海海事法院表示,其在2007年判决陈顺通的两个孙子获得29亿日元赔偿,而三井的上诉和重审请求均被上级法院驳回。

法院判决“大陆案”原告获得945万美元赔偿。法院称,那起案件去年已由三井与大陆的法定代表人达成和解。

Owen Guo北京和杰夫?代尔(Geoff Dyer)华盛顿补充报道

译者/和风

本文关键字:双语阅读,小艾英语,双语网站,双语中国,实时资讯,互联网新闻,ERWAS,行业解析,创业指导,营销策略,英语学习,可以双语阅读的网站!
  • 我的微信
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin
  • 微信公众号
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin

发表评论

:?: :razz: :sad: :evil: :!: :smile: :oops: :grin: :eek: :shock: :???: :cool: :lol: :mad: :twisted: :roll: :wink: :idea: :arrow: :neutral: :cry: :mrgreen: