Jan. 19, 2021 — Continuing Updates on the Comfort Women Issue (Various)

Asahi Shimbun: A Seoul court will reopen proceedings in a lawsuit by former “comfort women” seeking a combined 3 billion won (280 million yen, or $2.7 million) from the Japanese government in compensation for their ordeal.

Asahi Shimbun: A South Korean court issued a landmark ruling Jan. 8 ordering the Japanese government to pay damages to 12 former “comfort women” for wartime criminal acts committed “in a planned and organized manner.”

Dong-a Ilbo: During a press conference on Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said letting one issue affect bilateral cooperation in other areas would not be wise. “I would like to emphasize that the efforts to resolve issues from the past and to move forward the bilateral relations should be made concurrently,” said the president, suggesting that working towards greater economic cooperation and resolving various issues from the past should all be looked at individually. Japan imposed export controls after the South Korean supreme court ordered Japanese companies to compensate Koreans it used as forced labor. More recently, the court has also ordered the Japanese government to pay reparations to the so-called comfort women who were WWII sex slaves.

Dong-a Ilbo: A Seoul court has ruled that the Japanese government must pay 100 million won each to 12 Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War ll. This is the first time that a South Korean court acknowledged that the Japanese government has the responsibility to provide reparations to victims of sexual slavery. The Japanese government claimed sovereign immunity, which is a customary international law that states one sovereign state cannot be sued before the courts of another sovereign state, but the Seoul Central District Court said Friday the issue of sexual slaves is a “crime against humanity” that cannot apply sovereign immunity.

The Korea Herald: A journal article written by a Harvard professor has provoked fury here for its assertion that “comfort women” were not sex slaves, but prostitutes who chose to work at military brothels under voluntary agreements. 

The Korea Herald: A group of Korean students at Harvard Law School has decried a professor’s recent controversial claims that victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery were willing prostitutes as “factually incorrect and misleading.”