Former South Korean sex slave demands matter be taken to int’l court

Seoul, Feb 16 (efe-epa).- A South Korean woman used as a sexual slave by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, urged the governments of Tokyo and Seoul on Tuesday to refer the abuses committed by Japan during that period to the International Court of Justice.

Lee Yong-Soo, 92, said at a press conference in Seoul that she was making the demand after Tokyo has once again cited sovereign immunity to dismiss a first-of-its-kind ruling by a South Korean court that Japan should pay compensation to a dozen women who were forced into sexual slavery for Japan’s troops during World War II.

Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that considers it improper for a foreign court to rule on the confiscation of assets from another country.

“Japan insisted the Korean court violated international laws (by not granting Japan sovereign immunity) and is still lying (about history) by using the Harvard professor,” Lee said, referring to a recent, controversial paper by John Mark Ramseyer that denies that the victims were forced into prostitution.

The South Korean court had said in its verdict that sovereign immunity was not applicable in a human rights matter.

“We are not asking for money. We want complete acknowledgement and an apology,” added Lee, who broke down in tears and sobs.

The South Korean court ruled on Jan. 8 that the the Japanese government should compensate each of the 12 women with 100 million won ($91,000), a judgment that has further eroded the already strained bilateral relationship between both neighbors.

“I hope the two nations resolve the issue permanently at the international court and live in peace with each other,” said Lee, one of the 15 South Korean women who came forward and registered with the government as victims of sexual slavery, still alive.

This sentence is the latest episode in the conflict between Seoul and Tokyo on account of the Japanese colonial legacy on the Korean peninsula, which it dominated between 1910 and 1945.

It also comes after the South Korean government scrapped a bilateral agreement signed in 2015 between Tokyo and the former conservative administration in Seoul to compensate sex slaves with about $8 million, arguing that it was agreed behind the backs of the public and those affected.

It is estimated some 200,000 Asian women, most of them Korean and many of them minors, were forced by the Japanese Imperial Army to work in front-line brothels before and during World War II. EFE-EPA


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