Recently a court in South Korea rejected a lawsuit that was filed by 12 former members of an entity known as comfort women. The members of comfort women were looking to get a sum of 100 million won which is equivalent to $91,000 American dollars. They were seeking to get this amount of money in the form of damages against the government. This suit was filed because the Korean comfort women were unhappy with a highly controversial bilateral agreement it had with Japan.
In 2016, this lawsuit was filed by the South Korean comfort women at the Seoul District Court. During the course of this lawsuit, the Korean comfort women made demands for compensation to address both mental and financial damages. These Korean comfort women testimonies revealed that they were forced to work in Japanese military brothels. They were ordered to work in these brothels during wartime and this helped contribute to their distress according to recent comfort women stories. The women have looked to settle this issue in 2015 but the process was delayed by one year.
During the process of the final ruling, the court admitted that the agreement lacked clarity on a number of issues. However, it also came to the conclusion that during the process of a bilateral agreement through diplomatic negotiations, the government did not engage in any conduct that is regarded as illegal. As a result, the women from South Korea have suffered a considerable setback. Due to this recent setback, the women will appeal the ruling and hope to get a more favorable one in the future. The lawyer for the plaintiffs stated that they do not understand the reason for the ruling and will therefore continue to pursue this particular case.
The women from South Korea were quite critical of the deal in 2015 because they believe that the ruling goes against the constitutional court of South Korea. According to the court, there was a policy in 2011 where it was regarded as unconstitutional. The court ruled that the government is not able to make any efforts to settle disputes with Japan due to its refusal of providing compensation to the South Korean women.
During the case, the South Korean women filed the lawsuit with support from the entity known as the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. This particular group has a strong opposition to the agreement and is therefore eager to help these women get justice and compensation. With their help, the organization will likely provide support during the appeal process.
After the establishment of the 2015 deal, the Japanese government was regretful of what happened and expressed sympathy for the women from South Korea. It was aware of their suffering and therefore gave 1 billion Yen to a South Korean foundation to help provide support for the victims involved in this situation. So far, this is all that Japan has done in order to address the concerns of the South Korean women and their legal representatives.
Despite making the deal in 2015, it remains very controversial for the victims and the public of South Korea. The South Koreans and the victims believe that their voices were ignored by the Japanese government. Therefore the apology made by Japan proved to be insufficient according to South Korea. With South Korea outraged by this situation, they will stand by the victims and look to assist these women in the future. The recent unfavorable ruling has proven to be an obstacle for these South Korean women. However they will continue to fight for justice and work towards getting an adequate settlement for their victimization.