The Constitutional Court of South Korea on Friday dismissed a petition by South Korean victims of Japan’s wartime sexual enslavement against the 2015 Seoul-Tokyo deal on the matter. The court’s decision came three years and nine months after the victims filed the complaint in March 2016.
The nine-justice panel made the unanimous decision on the petition filed by 29 victims including Kang Il-chul and 12 family members of the deceased comfort women, saying that the issue is not subject to its formal review and closing the case without deliberation.
The court said that the agreement is a “political” one made in the process of diplomatic negotiations. “A variety of assessments of the deal are in the realm of politics as it is the judgment of diplomatic policy to seek the resolution of the history issue and continue cooperation between the two nations,” the court said. As the deal is not a legally binding “treaty” but a “political agreement,” the court cannot decide whether the agreement in question infringed the basic rights of the victims, it added.
After the result came out, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it respects the court’s decision. “The government will continuously make efforts to restore the honor and dignity of the victims and heal their psychological scars.” In the meantime, while Japan has yet issued an official response to the latest decision, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga earlier said that the Japanese government would continue calling on South Korea to faithfully implement the 2015 bilateral deal.
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