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First Court Decision, “Disclose Korea-Japan Diplomatic Documents”

First Court Decision, “Disclose Korea-Japan Diplomatic Documents”

Posted February. 13, 2004 22:44,   


The victims who were exploited as military prostitutes and served in the forced concentration camps during the Japanese colonization period have partially won at the legal proceedings in which they require the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to unveil the diplomatic documents that include the Korea-Japan agreements. The court’s decision ordering the government to disclose the documents related to the Korea-Japan diplomatic agreements is the first time on record.

The victims have asserted that the documents disclosure is necessary for determining whether or not they can claim for compensation against the Japanese government. However, MFAT has refused their requests based on the reason that “the reliance between each country may be aggravated.”

On February 13, the Seoul Administrative Court decided on the lawsuit instituted by the 99 victims harmed by Japan during the colonization period, stating, “Unveil the 57 documents related to the Korea-Japan agreements,” and that “MFAT should unveil the five documents related to the compensation toward the 53 plaintiffs who underwent legal proceedings against the Japanese government.”

The documents to be disclosed contain the entire data related to the right of claim among the details negotiated between the two countries from the first Korea-Japan official meeting held in 1952 up to the seventh meeting held in 1965.

On the decision, the judge disclosed, “Although the plaintiffs have claimed compensation against the Japanese government, the Japanese side asserts that the right of claim has been nullified based on the Korea-Japan agreement. In order to judge whether the assertion of the Japanese side is right or wrong, the plaintiffs should examine the procedures of the agreement and its contents.”

The judge also added, “As the plaintiffs become older, the time limit that can allow people to judge whether or not the right of claim can be recognized as positive becomes too narrow. Also, the necessities of keeping the agreements as confidential have decreased a lot because a long time has passed. However, as for the other data which still includes the diplomatic secret, it should not be unveiled in order to maintain the reliance between Japan.”

Soo-Kyung Kim skkim@donga.com