A court has ruled against a compensation lawsuit that had been filed by twelve members of a former “comfort women” The group had sought compensation from the South Korean government following its bilateral agreement with the Japanese government. Through its lawyer, the group had sought a compensation of up to $91,000 for each victim of the victim.
The compensation lawsuit which was filed in Seoul back in 2016 aimed at forcing the government to compensate all Korean comfort women for the financial and mental damage it caused to them when it signed an agreement with the Japanese government in 2015. The deal signed in 2015 was meant officially and permanently close the South Korean women who were sexually mistreated by Japanese soldiers during wartime.
While delivering the ruling, the court acknowledged the weaknesses in the 2015 agreement between South Korea and Japan but at the same time disagreed with the comfort women testimonies claiming that the deal was illegal. The court said that the South Korean government had the right motives when it signed the agreement with Japan and that it was impossible to quash the entire document.
However, lawyers representing the victims termed the ruling as bias and a validation of the 2015 agreement. “The court has proved that it supports the government agreement between South Korea and Japan and we clearly understand why it did that. We are going to appeal the court’s decision because we do not agree with the judge’s decision” said the plaintiff’s lawyer.
The 2015 agreement between South Korea and Japan was as a result of long negotiations whose objective was to mend relationships that had deteriorated between the two countries. The negotiations were led by foreign ministers of both South Korea and Japan and finally, the deal was signed in 2015.
However, South Korean comfort women were opposed to the deal terming it as unconstitutional. A South Korean constitutional court had in 2011 ruled that it was illegal for the government not to make any efforts to resolve the issues of comfort women stories with Japan.
Under the 2015 agreement, the Japanese government pledged to raise up to $8.8 million towards helping comfort women victims through a foundation program. Besides, it also apologized for the atrocities and suffering that the Korean women went through under its soldiers during the war between the two countries.
Nonetheless, the deal was largely opposed by the comfort women group as well as a section of the public in South Korea who claimed that it did not adequately address the issues faced by the victims during the war. As a result, with the support of civil rights groups in South Korea, the women moved to court to challenge the signing of the deal. They also claimed that they were not allowed to be part of the negotiations that resulted in the signing of the deal between Japan and South Korea.
However, most leaders around the world welcomed the signing of the deal saying that it would improve peace within the region. A large population of people both in Japan and South Korea was also happy about the agreement signed in 2015. The ruling made by the court although not satisfying for everyone has laid the groundwork from the full implementation of the 2015 agreement between the two countries.
Both countries have always expressed their willingness to see that the agreement is fully realized. They also admit that there are still a few issues that need to be properly dealt with including compensation for the war victims. The full implementation of the 2015 agreement will truly bring peace and good relations between South Korea and Japan.