Reuters reported on the decision of the Court of Appeal.
The women, who went to court in 2016, are seeking 200 million won (CZK 3.4 million) each in damages. The court in the metropolis of Seoul rejected their request in 2021, citing the jurisdictional immunity of foreign states from legal proceedings in Japan. Human rights organizations criticized the verdict.
The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the women today. “It is reasonable to believe that there is common international law that does not recognize state immunity,” the appeals court said in a statement. “The case falls within the jurisdiction of South Korea because the plaintiffs live in that country and are seeking damages for acts that are considered illegal under that country’s law,” the court added.
Japan has not yet responded to today’s South Korean appeals court verdict. Ninety-five-year-old activist I Jong-so, who is among the women seeking compensation, welcomed the court’s decision. “I’m really grateful,” she said through tears as she left the courtroom. She added that she regrets not being able to share this news with other victims who have already died.
Historians estimate that there were about 200,000 so-called “comfort women”, as involuntary war prostitutes are euphemistically called. These were not only Korean women, but also Chinese, Indonesian and women from other Asian countries. Most of them are now dead.
More about the case of sex slaves
Japan occupied the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and parts of China from 1931 to 1945. During World War II, Japan was part of the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis and committed a number of crimes in the occupied territories.