Court Orders Japan to Compensate WW2 Sex Slaves

Tokyo refuses to accept 'comfort women' ruling
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2021 11:11 AM CST
Court Orders Japan to Compensate WW2 Sex Slaves
Portraits of late former South Korean "comfort women" are displayed near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A South Korean court has ordered Japan to pay compensation to a dozen women who were forced into sexual slavery by its military during World War II—but seven of them have died since the lawsuit was filed in 2013, and the survivors may not live to see the money. Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the country could not accept the ruling, which Amnesty International said was the first time a court had found Japan accountable for the abuse, reports Reuters. The Seoul Central District Court ordered Japan to pay each of the women 100 million won, around $91,000, the AP reports. During the war, an estimated 200,000 Korean women and girls, euphemistically called "comfort women" by the Japanese military, were forced to have sex with dozens of soldiers a day in military brothels.

The ruling is expected to raise tensions between Seoul and Tokyo. Japan argues that the issue was settled in a 2015 deal, but the judge ruled that the women were still entitled to seek compensation. "It was a crime against humanity that was systematically, deliberately and extensively committed by Japan in breach of international norms," Justice Kim Jeong-gon said in the ruling. At the House of Sharing, a shelter where the five women live, spokesman Kim Dae-Wol said the two women healthy enough to follow the trial welcomed the ruling and said the money wasn't the important part. "They said it's never enough even if Japan pays tens of times more, but they don't put much meaning on compensation," Kim said. "They just want Japan to apologize and let more of its people know, so that there will no longer be such war crimes." (More South Korea stories.)

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