NGO Disappointed By Seoul Court Dismissing 'Comfort Women' Claim Against Japan

NGO Disappointed by Seoul Court Dismissing 'Comfort Women' Claim Against Japan

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 21st April, 2021) A prominent human rights group on Wednesday condemned a South Korean court's ruling to dismiss a "comfort women" lawsuit that demanded compensation from Tokyo for offenses committed by Japan during World War II.

The "comfort women" system, which forced up to 200,000 young women and girls into sex slavery, was set up by the Japanese imperial forces in occupied countries, including South Korea, during World War II, and remains a stumbling block in relations between the two countries. Earlier today, the Seoul Central District Court rejected a related claim from 20 plaintiffs against Tokyo, including surviving victims of wartime sexual enslavement, citing the principle of sovereign immunity, under which a state is not obliged to abide by rulings of foreign courts.

"Today's ruling is a major disappointment that fails to deliver justice to the remaining survivors of this military slavery system, and to those who suffered these atrocities before and during World War II but had already passed away, as well as their families," Amnesty International's East Asia Researcher Arnold Fang said in a statement.

He noted that Wednesday's decision took many by surprise, as the same court ruled in January that Tokyo must pay financial reparations of 100 million won (nearly $90,000) to 12 sexual abuse victims in a separate "comfort women" case launched in 2016.

Japan, however, rejected the ruling, maintaining that the issue was settled in a bilateral 2015 agreement that saw the previous leadership extend apologies and sponsor a foundation supporting the victims.

Tokyo has already transferred 1 billion Yen (over $9 million) to the organization, but South Korean President Moon Jae-in dissolved the deal amid criticism that the agreement, signed by the previous government, had ignored the opinions of survivors.

Japan has also frequently cited a 1965 agreement signed with South Korea that established diplomatic ties between the two countries. The terms of the deal stipulated that Tokyo would pay Seoul $800 million in economic assistance to normalize bilateral relations.

The cases surrounding the use of forced labor and "comfort women" during Japan's 20th century colonial expansion have become a point of contention in relations between the East Asian neighbors. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonization from 1910-1945.