Seoul court dismisses sex slave lawsuit against Japan

Seoul, Apr 21 (EFE).- A court in South Korea dismissed a civil lawsuit filed against Japan by a group of South Korean citizens used as sex slaves by Japanese troops during the colonization of the peninsula.

In the Wednesday ruling, the Seoul Central District Court concluded it cannot order Japan to pay the compensation claimed by a score of women forcibly prostituted by the imperial army in the first half of the 20th century.

This ruling contradicts another made in January by the same court – albeit by a different panel of judges – which ordered Japan to compensate a dozen women from the same group with 100 million won ($91,155.) This was the first sentence of its kind in the dispute between the countries.

On this occasion, the court decided to dismiss the claim according to the legal doctrine of immunity from jurisdiction, which prevents the justice system of a country from prosecuting foreign states, according to local news agency Yonhap.

The South Korean court validated Tokyo’s argument, overturning January’s ruling in which it opted for the argument of the plaintiffs, who said immunity from jurisdiction should not apply in cases of war crimes or crimes against human rights.

The Seoul court said ordering Japan to pay the compensation “could result in a violation of international law,” since both countries previously signed two bilateral agreements (in 1965 and 2015) to compensate sex slaves and victims of colonization.

Japanese Government Spokesman Katsunobu Kato said Wednesday at a press conference that January’s judicial resolution “violated international law” and was unacceptable by Tokyo, but did not comment on the new sentence, which he said the government is revising.

The plaintiffs claim that they were deceived or forced before and during World War II until they ended up serving as sex slaves for Japanese troops, whom the Japanese government euphemistically refers to as “comfort women.”

It is estimated that some 200,000 girls and adolescents in Asia, most of them Korean, were victims of sexual abuse by Japanese imperial troops from the 1930s until the end of World War II, in 1945.

Today’s sentence, which can still be appealed by the plaintiffs before a higher court, is one more chapter in the prolonged conflict between Seoul and Tokyo on account of Japan’s colonial legacy on the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945. EFE


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