China seizes Japanese ship for “failure to return ship leased before World War II”

A container ship owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines of Tokyo

A container ship owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines of Tokyo

Shanghai Marine Court has seized a huge Japanese ore carrier to enforce its verdict on a dispute over a defunct Japanese company‘s failure to return a ship rented 80 years ago.

Singtao Daily says that the ship Baosteel Emotion was a new ore carrier built in 2011. It is 320 meters long and 54 meters wide with a displacement of 280,000 tons. It was berthed at Zhejiang Province China when it was seized on April 19.

The litigation stems from a lease of two ships in the 1930s by Chinese Chung Wei Steamship Company to a Japanese shipping firm. Two ships leased to the Japanese firm were taken over by Japanese military after war broke out in 1937 and were later sunk.

The lessee of the two ships in the 1930s was the Daido Shipping Co, the predecessor of the owner of the seized ship, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines of Tokyo. Two grandchildren of Chung Wei’s owner, Chen Zhen and Chen Chun has sued Mitsui at Shanghai Marine Court for compensation since 1988. The 1930’s ship owner was the now defunct Zhongwei Shipping Co.

SCMP says, “The maritime court awarded the Chens nearly 3 billion yen in damages and compensation in 2007. The Supreme People’s Court rejected the Japanese company’s appeal in 2010, according to the maritime court.

“The Shanghai court served an enforcement notice on Mitsui in late 2011 but negotiations between the Chens and Mitsui ended with no result, prompting the court to seize Baosteel Emotion on Saturday.”

Japanese media regarded the seizure as a rare event that occurred due to the deterioration of bilateral relations. They are afraid that Sino-Japanese trade will be affected and Japanese enterprises’ assets may be in danger as labourers forced by the Japanese to work in Japan during the war and their offspring have been filing lawsuits for compensation at Chinese courts.

Editor’s Note: For decades, China has disallowed such claims in Chinese courts. They stated that all war-related compensation between China and Japan reached final settlement in 1972,  following normalisation of relationships between China and Japan. China now unilaterally refuses to recognise that settlement, but gives no reason as to why.

China has long claimed that contracts signed under the KMT government had no validity after the Communists came to power in 1949. This was to avoid repayment of almost one trillion dollars in unpaid Chinese war bonds (plus interest) from prior to WWII (see China could owe America one trillion dollars in pre-WWII war bond debt).

Source; Singtao Daily “Mitsui failed to return ships leased 80 years ago; Shanghai seized its ship for compensation of the losses in World War II” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese”
Source: SCMP “Shanghai court seizes Japanese ore carrier in second world war reparations dispute”


Categories: Politics & Law

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11 replies


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