United States and ‘comfort women’
The Hwang Geum Joo, et al. v. Japan case is the only suit filed in the United Stated by former ‘comfort women.’ The case was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on September 18, 2000. The lawsuit stipulates that the planning, establishment, and operation of a network of comfort women stations was a commercial activity which is not subject to sovereign immunity.
On April 27, 2001, the US Department of Justice issued a “Statement of Interest of the United States of America” regarding the Hwang Geum Joo, et al. v. Japan which stated that “the United States District Court for the District of Columbia had no jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ claims due to Japan’s sovereign immunity and by virtue of international obligations entered into by the United States and other nations with Japan at the close of World War II.”
The statement stipulated that if individual plaintiffs were allowed to impose their interpretation of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty on a piece-meal basis through litigation, this would have a potentially serious negative impact on U.S.-Japan relations and could affect the United States’ treaty relations globally by calling into question the finality of US commitments. Such actions, the statement pointed out, could have serious implications for stability in the East Asian region, especially given the “very delicate” nature of Japan’s relations with China and Korea.
The US Department of Justice concluded that “rather than bringing closure on war claims against Japan and its nationals – the purpose of the 1951 Treaty – litigation of these claims would throw open a case-by-case adjudication of war-related claims.” It was submitted that the claims raised by the plaintiffs be dismissed.
As presented above, the filing of the comfort women case in the United States has been highly controversial and far from being resolved. Below is a link to the summary of the Hwang Geum Joo, et al. v. Japan along with available court documents. As with all aspects of this website, any recent information or corrections regarding the data listed are welcome.
Recent news related to the United States on the ‘comfort women’ issue
2013 February – US lawmakers caution PM Abe on ‘comfort women’ apology issue