Seoul — Wartime intercourse slaves from South Korea, euphemistically often called “consolation ladies,” received their first authorized victory in opposition to the Japanese authorities in a landmark ruling handed down Friday in Seoul. The Seoul Central District Court docket ordered Japan’s authorities to pay reparations of 100 million received ($91,300) every to the households of 12 ladies who have been pressured to work as intercourse slaves for the Japanese military throughout Japan’s colonization of Korea.
The courtroom referred to as Japan forcing the women-only— to be intercourse slaves “a criminal offense in opposition to humanity.” It mentioned the ladies have been pressured into servitude when Japan “illegally occupied” the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945, arguing that the illegality of that occupation means Japan’s modern sovereign immunity cannot defend it from lawsuits.
The case through which the ruling was handed down on Friday opened in April final 12 months. The Japanese authorities has by no means been concerned, insisting the lawsuit needs to be dismissed on the grounds that “the state is immune from the jurisdiction of the courtroom of a overseas nation.”
Japanese Chief Cupboard Secretary Katsunobu Kato mentioned Friday that Japan wouldn’t attraction the ruling as doing so would put the nation beneath South Korea’s jurisdiction.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga mentioned that Japan couldn’t settle for the courtroom’s ruling, whereas Kato referred to as it “unacceptable,” and urged Seoul to take “acceptable measures” to have it dismissed.
Japan’s Vice International Minister Takeo Akiba summoned South Korean Ambassador Nam Gwan-Pyo in Tokyo to lodge an “extraordinarily sturdy protest.” Ambassador Nam mentioned he would attempt to stop the ruling from having an “undesirable impression” on bilateral ties.
Even South Korea’s International Ministry mentioned that whereas it revered the courtroom’s judgments, “the federal government acknowledges the formal settlement of the 2 governments which was made in December 2015.”
That deal included a proper apology from then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and an $8.3 million support fund arrange by Tokyo for the aged former intercourse slaves. From Japan’s perspective, the settlement drew a line beneath the decades-long scandal.
The plight of the “consolation ladies” has been a key level of friction between the 2 Asian nations for greater than half a century.
The victims have been primarily Korean, however the Japanese military picked up intercourse slaves in most international locations the place it had forces primarily based throughout World Battle II. There have been even British and Dutch ladies amongst them.
“We welcome the historic victory that opened a brand new horizon,” mentioned a victims’ advocacy group in Seoul that speaks for the ladies who filed the lawsuits in opposition to Japan.
“Victims have repeatedly testified publicly concerning the injury and demanded an answer primarily based on a victim-centered strategy, however have been ignored repeatedly,” the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Problems with Army Sexual Slavery by Japan, mentioned in an announcement.
The group, noting that solely a handful of victims stay alive, urged the Japanese authorities to rapidly fulfill what it mentioned was an obligation to fulfill its “legal responsibility,” and to totally examine the military’s actions and educate a extra correct model of historical past in Japan.
Amnesty Worldwide Korea additionally welcomed the courtroom’s ruling on Friday, with director Jihyun Yoon calling it an “necessary resolution” and noting in an announcement that it was “the primary time a South Korean courtroom has acknowledged the accountability of the Japanese Authorities for Japanese army sexual slavery and opened up a path to revive justice for the survivors.”
Jihyun referred to as on japan to “comply with the courtroom’s resolution and take speedy steps to offer reparations for the victims of sexual slavery,” and to situation a “full and complete apology to the survivors.”