Japan ship firm pays $49 m to China after seizure

The Baosteel Emotion, a 226,434 deadweight-tonne ore carrier owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, is docked at the port of Maji Island, south of Shanghai April 22, 2014. A Chinese maritime court in Shanghai seized the ship on Saturday owned by Japanese shipping firm Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, a move that Japan warned could have an adverse impact on its businesses in China. The court said the company had failed to pay compensation stemming from a wartime contractual obligation. China's Foreign Ministry said the disagreement was a normal commercial dispute.

TOKYO - Japanese shipping firm Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd has paid about $39 million (S$49 million) to a Chinese court towards securing the release of one of its ships which was seized over an alleged payments dispute dating back to World War Two, Japanese media reported on Thursday.

The Yomiuri newspaper and public broadcaster NHK, quoting unnamed people they said were familiar with the matter, said Mitsui had paid about 4 billion yen (S$49 million) in compensation and interest to the Chinese court. Its ship, the "Baosteel Emotion" 226,434 deadweight-tonne ore carrier, was seized on Saturday.

Mitsui O.S.K. spokesman Atsushi Seki told Reuters he could not immediately confirm the reports. He said the company was still working to release the vessel, which the Chinese court seized over Mitsui's alleged failure to pay compensation stemming from a wartime contractual obligation.

A number of court cases demanding compensation for forced wartime labour have arisen in China and South Korea. In February, two Japanese firms were sued in what media said at the time was the first instance where a Chinese court had accepted such a case.