S. Korean court orders Japan to compensate World War II sex slaves
A South Korean court on Friday ordered the Japanese government to pay compensation to 12 World War II sex slaves or their families, in an unprecedented ruling that prompted an immediate denunciation by Tokyo.
It is the first civilian legal case in South Korea against Tokyo by wartime sex slaves for Japanese troops, who were euphemistically labelled “comfort women”.
Mainstream historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also other parts of Asia including China, were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.
Tokyo and Seoul are both major US allies, democracies and market economies, but their deepening rift will present incoming US president Joe Biden with an immediate foreign policy headache as he seeks to build a common front on China and nuclear-armed North Korea.
Tokyo denounced Friday’s ruling as a violation of international law and summoned Seoul’s ambassador to protest, demanding that the South Korean government intervene.
The dispute has festered despite the treaty, and under Moon’s conservative predecessor Seoul and Tokyo reached a deal in 2015 aimed at “finally and irreversibly” resolving it with a Japanese apology and the formation of a 1 billion yen fund for survivors.
But Moon’s government declared that agreement faulty and effectively nullified it, citing the lack of victims’ consent.