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PERSONAL injury specialist Martyn Day has flown out to Japan to start proceedings in the Tokyo District Court on behalf of former war-time prisoners suing the Japanese government for compensation.
Day, joint senior partner in London practice Leigh Day & Co, is working with an eight-member Japanese legal team to present the case for former prisoners of the Pacific War from the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand.
Day says the lawyers, who are working on a no win-no fee basis, hope to win a US$0.5 billion payout for almost 25,000 claimants.
The figure, which includes a 10 per cent payment for the legal advisers, is the same as that paid by the US government to Japanese/American civilians interned after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
Day says he considered suing in the UK or taking the matter to the International Court at the Hague, but the reticence of UK courts to become involved in cross-border issues prompted the team to bring an action in Japan.
"Basically, we felt that all of those other routes were doomed to an early failure," says Day.
"We didn't feel that it was likely that British courts would, after 50 years, be prepared to hold the Japanese government liable.
"Courts are not keen to get involved in inter-governmental issues, and it would be very easy for the Japanese government to ignore any actions that were taken away from the Japanese mainland."