Japan reacted strongly to its condemnation, Friday, January 8, by the South Korean justice to compensate twelve so-called “comfort” women – a euphemism to speak of women, mainly Korean, forced to prostitute themselves for army soldiers imperial during World War II.
Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato called the decision “Deeply regrettable” and of “Totally unacceptable by Japan”, while the South Korean ambassador was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Historically, the judgment rendered in this first civil lawsuit against the Archipelago in South Korea ordered Tokyo to pay 100 million won (approximately 75,000 euros) to each of the plaintiffs, some of whom died during the proceedings. “Evidence, documents and testimonies show that the victims suffered extreme and unimaginable physical and psychological suffering. No compensation came to alleviate their suffering ”, the court ruled.
Restore the dignity of victims
“I am deeply moved by the decision”, reacted Kim Kang-won, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers. “This is the first verdict of its kind for the victims of Japanese troops. ” The South Korean foreign ministry said it respects the decision and wants to do everything to restore the dignity of the victims.
For Japan, the condemnation has no value. He considers that the claims for compensation for the period of colonization of the peninsula (1910-1945) and the war were “Completely and definitely” settled during the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965 and that of “comfort” women were settled by the signing, in 2015, of a bilateral agreement to this effect.
Tokyo also sees in the procedure a breach of the principle of jurisdictional immunity of states, which protect countries from prosecution abroad. He therefore refused to participate in the hearings and will not appeal the decision, which could expose him to the seizure of some of his assets in South Korea.
His arguments were rejected by the South Korean court, for which the agreements reached do not override the victims’ right to seek reparations. Regarding jurisdictional immunity, South Korean justice relied on the example of Luigi Ferrini, an Italian deported and forced into forced labor in Nazi Germany in 1944-1945. Mr. Ferrini had filed a complaint in 1998 against Germany and the Supreme Court of his country had ruled in 2004 that immunity should be lifted in cases of crimes of international level. Germany had seized the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which had rejected the Italian decision. Japan would consider a similar action with the UN body.
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