Timothy Webster


This Note argues that the recent wave of litigation brought by former Chinese slave laborers, while important in its own right, highlights the need for a more comprehensive solution. Although ideally the Japanese Diet will devise its own response to the problem of compensation, the experiences arising from the Holocaust litigation in the United States provide a meaningful yardstick for comparison. In the United States, a large-scale settlement scheme followed, and finalized, numerous lawsuits brought by former forced and slave laborers from World War II Europe. The American response, though based on different circumstances, led to a multibillion-dollar fund that has compensated over 1.5 million former forced and slave laborers. A similar mass settlement for Chinese slave laborers would provide a systematic and equitable distribution of funds to all aggrieved parties, rather than to some lucky subset of litigants.

Part I of this Note investigates the history of World War II slave labor in Japan, as well as the many provisions of international and domestic law the practice violated. Part II surveys the factual backgrounds and results of recent Japanese slave-labor lawsuits. Part III shifts focus from Japan to the United States, where slave-labor litigation has yielded two methods of compensation. Finally, Part IV proposes mass settlement as a solution to the problems raised by slave-labor litigation.


China, Japan, Slaves, Compensation

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Cornell Law Review

Publication Information

91 Cornell Law Review 733 (2006)


COinS Timothy Webster Faculty Bio