South Korean court rules in favor of former “comfort women” suing Japan

A South Korean appeals court on Thursday ruled in favor of a group of former “comfort women” seeking compensation from the Japanese government over their treatment in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

The Seoul High Court decision came after a lower court in 2021 dismissed the case on the grounds that South Korea has no jurisdiction over the case due to “sovereign immunity” — a concept under international law that a state is immune from the jurisdiction of a court in another country.

The Japanese government declined to be involved in the case and similar lawsuits filed by other groups of South Korean women who claimed to have been forced to work in the military brothels.

Thursday’s ruling came as South Korea-Japan relations have been improving after Seoul pledged to resolve a dispute over alleged forced labor at Japanese firms during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Japan has said all issues stemming from its 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula were settled “completely and finally” under a 1965 bilateral agreement and that an accord reached by the two countries in 2015 “finally and irreversibly” resolved the comfort women issue.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga source kyodo