On 1 June 2022, the District Court of The Hague rendered judgment on the collective claim of Stichting Japanse Ereschulden c.s. against the Dutch State. In essence, this case pertains to the claimants’ assertion that the Dutch State acted unlawfully by waiving the claimants’ rights of action against Japan in the context of the Peace Treaty concluded with Japan, without compensating the affected Dutch people for the war damage suffered under the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies. In that respect, the claimants also considered themselves to be wrongly discriminated because the Dutch people who suffered under German occupation – whose claims against Germany were abandoned – did receive partial or full compensation for war damage. The Dutch State conducted a defence asserting that there was no unlawful act, that there was no war damage and that the claims had become time-barred.
Despite the fact that it sympathised with the claimants, the District Court ruled that no legal basis could be found for the claimants’ claims, that there had been no expropriation at the time and that the claims had become time-barred. The District Court saw no possibility of setting aside or stretching these rules of law. This judgment is striking because the District Court explicitly expressed its sympathy and compassion for the claimants in these proceedings.