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Japan’s Supreme Court Dismisses Damage Suit by South Korean War Victims

Japan’s Supreme Court Dismisses Damage Suit by South Korean War Victims

Posted November. 29, 2004 22:58,   


A damage suit against the Japanese government, brought by 35 plaintiffs including South Koreans forced to work as sex slaves or soldiers by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II and relatives of those who died, was rejected Monday after the 13-year-long trial.

Japan’s Supreme Court upheld the lower court rulings, saying that damages done during World War II are matters beyond the expectations of the Constitution, and compensation should be considered in the context of the line of policy.

Victims filed a compensation suit in the Tokyo District Court in December 1991 and demanded that the Japanese government pay them 20 million yen ($194,400) each.

The court, however, acknowledged the fact that the plaintiffs were forcibly recruited as soldiers or sex slaves (or comfort women) for the Japanese Imperial Army in the early 1940s.

Since the compensation suit was the first of its kind that the comfort women have filed against the Japanese government, it has drawn enormous attention, resulting in an additional 60 compensation suits from other Asian nations.

As Japan’s top court rejected the suit, victims now have practically no way to receive individual compensation from the Japanese government through the judicial decision of the Japanese court.

“Based on its interpretation of the 1965 treaty between the two nations regarding claim rights, the court apparently considered that the treaty had nullified the plaintiffs’ right to demand compensation,” Japan`s Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported.

As the judges left the court after reading a short statement about the dismissal of the suit, plaintiffs, including members of the Association of the Pacific War Victims, strongly protested, claming it as an inhumane ruling.

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com