A South Korean courtroom has ordered Japan to compensate 12 girls who have been compelled to work in its wartime brothels, a ruling that drew a powerful rebuke from Tokyo and threatened to rekindle a diplomatic feud between the 2 nations.
Reminders of Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula are contentious for either side, with many surviving ‘consolation girls’ – a Japanese euphemism for the sex-abuse victims – demanding a proper apology and compensation from Tokyo.
Japan says the problem was settled underneath a 1965 treaty that normalised diplomatic ties, and the 2 nations agreed to “irreversibly” finish the dispute in a 2015 deal.
However the Seoul Central District Court docket, a decrease tier courtroom, ordered Japan pay every of the ladies 100 million gained ($A117,116), saying neither of the pacts can cowl their proper to hunt compensation.
Japan’s Chief Cupboard Secretary Katsunobu Kato referred to as the decision “unacceptable,” urging Seoul to take “applicable measures”.
Vice Overseas Minister Takeo Akiba summoned South Korean Ambassador Nam Gwan-pyo to lodge an “extraordinarily robust protest”.
South Korea’s overseas ministry did instantly reply to a request for remark, however Ambassador Nam mentioned in Tokyo that he would try to stop the ruling from having an “undesirable influence” on ties.
“I emphasised that it was most necessary for either side to reply in a peaceful, restrained method with the intention to resolve the problem,” Nam instructed reporters.
After taking workplace in 2017, South Korean President Moon Jae-in successfully nullified the 2015 settlement, wherein Japan issued an official apology and supplied 1 billion yen ($A12.four million) to a fund to assist comfort-women victims.
Some historians estimate as much as 200,000 Korean women and girls have been compelled to supply intercourse to Japanese troops through the colonial period, typically underneath the pretext of employment or to repay a relative’s debt.
“It was against the law towards humanity that was systematically, intentionally and extensively dedicated by Japan in breach of worldwide norms,” Justice Kim Jeong-gon mentioned within the ruling.
Solely 16 registered Korean survivors are nonetheless alive, and 6 of the 12 victims behind the lawsuit have died because it was initiated in 2016.
The ladies’s lawyer, Kim Kang-won, mentioned he was “deeply moved” because the ruling acknowledged the Japanese authorities was accountable for the atrocity.