Leigh Day partner persuades govt to back Japanese PoWs

Leigh Day & Co senior partner Martyn Day has persuaded the Foreign Office to reconsider making a claim against Japan to compensate former prisoners of war.

He is due to meet Foreign Office minister Derek Fatchett on Wednesday, and says he expects the Government to decide this week whether it will make a claim under Article 26 of the 1951 Treaty of Peace with Japan.

Foreign Office advice not to use this route to pursue a claim was concealed from the public. Article 26 demands that UK claimants receive compensation equivalent to that given other nationals.

If the Government agrees to make a claim, it will bring fresh hope to the 10,000 former prisoners of war and civilian internees, whose five-year battle for £140m compensation failed in Japan's domestic courts in November.

Day says a scribbled comment from former Foreign Office minister Lord Reading in 1955, advising against an Article 26 claim on the grounds it “would be likely to cause the maximum resentment for the minimum advantage”, has deprived war camp victims of compensation.

The Government kept Lord Reading's letter secret for 40 years until a prisoner of war campaigner accidentally discovered it last year. Foreign Office lawyers have consistently advised ministers against an Article 26 action.

However, Day accuses the Foreign Office of advising against the action to hide its lack of help for the war victims, who received only £76 compensation.

“If the Foreign Office lawyers say 'no' to this action now, then that will be because it is totally biased and covering up for the fact it withheld information,” he says.