On 28 November 2007, the plenary meeting of the House of Councilors passed the draft partial amendments to the Act on the Facilitation of Smooth Return of Japanese Nationals Displaced in China and on the Provision of Post-Return Support for Them for Self-Sufficiency, resulting in the completion of the amendment procedures.
Being unable to return at the end of the World War II, Japanese nationals who had been displaced in China could finally come back to Japan after the regularization of the diplomatic relations between Japan and the People's Republic of China. Many of them, who had already become old, have faced difficulties in language and other aspects of their daily lives. Consequently more than 2,000 plaintiffs filed lawsuits to fifteen courts all over the country, arguing that the state have failed to fulfill its obligations to ensure early return of war-displaced Japanese and to provide support for their self-sufficiency after return. While the Kobe District Court acknowledged the state's liability except in terms of some plaintiffs, other courts have dismissed the plaintiffs' cases by finding that the state has no such obligations or that, even if the state is liable, there had been no unreasonable commission or omission on the part of the state.
Meanwhile, an expert council was established in May 2007, following the instruction of the then Prime Minister Abe, to consider ways of supporting returnees from China. The council developed the draft proposals "On what kind of support should be provided" to the returnees. In the proposals, the council wished to strongly appeal to the people "that it is of utmost importance to have full understanding of how and why the problem of Japanese displaced in China had occurred and what difficulties they have encountered thereafter as well as to support them in securing dignified lives in our society". Accordingly the council indicated the need to provide urgent support for stable lives in old age, proposing the expansion of the public pension system and complementary livelihood support. It also pointed out the need for support in local communities, stating that it is necessary to have the perspective of multicultural coexistence and to provide opportunities for returnees to achieve their potential.
In accordance with the amended Act, the state will be responsible for the contributions that returnees could not have paid because of their displacement, which will guarantee the full payment of the pension for returnees. The benefits under the public assistance system, which are restrictive in many aspects, will be replaced by supportive benefits for livelihood, housing and medical treatment.
While the amended Act does not refer to the state's liability, Prime Minister Fukuda apologized to the representatives of the plaintiffs on 5 December 2007. Meanwhile, the amended Act does not provide for local integration. (6 December 2007)
See: Draft partial amendments to the Act on the Facilitation of Smooth Return of Japanese Nationals Displaced in China and on the Provision of Post-Return Support for Them for Self-Sufficiency [Japanese]
On what kind of support should be provided to former war-displaced Japanese (draft), Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare [Japanese]