Subject: [cwj 135] Tokyo Court rejects Korean comfort woman's compensation appeal
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 12:11:19 -0800
Seq: 135

Thursday, November 30 7:59 PM SGT 

Tokyo Court rejects Korean comfort woman's compensation appeal

TOKYO, Nov 30 (AFP) - 

A Korean woman who was seeking compensation from Tokyo for being forced to
work as a sex slave for Japanese soldiers during
World War II, lost her appeal in the High Court here Thursday. 

In its ruling, the court agreed Soug Shindo, 78, was employed as a comfort
woman during the war, but her right to damages expired
15 years ago under a 1965 bi-lateral treaty between the Japanese and South
Korean governments.

"The right of the appellant to ask for damages disappeared on December 18,
1985, with the expiry of the term for exemption", the
ruling said.

The Japan-Republic of Korea Basic Relations Treaty stipulates that
liabilities for wartime acts of Japan and its people against Korea and
its people are legally erased, the ruling added.

"I didn't expect such a decision," said Soug, who lives in Miyagi
Prefecture in northern Japan. "I have fought for seven, eight years.
And it's all meaningless. I am an old woman. What can I do now?"

Soug, who came to Japan with a former Japanese soldier after the war ended,
started her legal battle against the Japanese government
for compensation and an official apology in April 1993.

She initially launched her legal fight at Tokyo District Court, where she
asked for the government's apology and damages of 120
million yen (1.1 million dollars).

After losing the case at the lower court, she appealed in October 1999 to
the Tokyo High Court, asking for an apology and 12 million

Kunio Aitani, Soug's attorney, said Thursday's decision was the first time
the court had said there was a period when comfort women
could have asked for compensation.

He added that the ruling also stated that the Japanese government violated
international law regarding labour during the war.

"So it's a step forward," he said. "I think that part of the judgement must
be valued."

But Tomoko Watanabe, another lawyer for Soug, was less positive:
"Ultimately, what we wanted was justice. And this decision does
not help us reach that goal."

Soug added the decision does not erase the facts about Japan's wartime

"We might have lost a court case, but the history about what Japan did
during the war will remain," she said.

About 50 of Soug's supporters gathered outside the court to express their
disappointment over the decision.

"We will not forgive the unfair judgement," they chanted repeatedly. 

"The Japanese government must apologize to the war victims in Asia," they

"We are extremely disappointed by the decision," said Chu Su Ja, one of
Soug's supporters. "She has been hurt so much. The
Japanese government must give her compensation."

Next month an alliance of Asian women's groups will put Japan in the dock
in a four-day long mock warcrimes tribunal to highlight
sex crimes by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

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