Korean court orders Japan to compensate WWII sex slaves

Japan's new Chief of Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato announces new cabinet members in Tokyo

Japan's new Chief of Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato announces new cabinet members in Tokyo

The court ruled that Japan's sovereign immunity didn't protect it from liability because at the time of the alleged war crimes, Japan had occupied South Korea illegally, according to CBS News.

Japan must pay 100 million won - equivalent to $91,300 - to each of the families of 12 women who were allegedly made sex slaves by the Japanese during World War II, the Seoul Central District Court judge ordered Friday, CBS News reported.

Generally speaking, bitter history-related disputes between two countries can be settled through mediation by a third party or brought to an worldwide court.

The path toward his appointment had been rocky as Japanese conservatives took issue with his 2011 visit to a set of islands under dispute between Japan and Russian Federation and other issues.

It also goes against the 2015 agreement between Japan and South Korea meant to "finally and irreversibly" settle the [comfort women] issue, and will further impact bilateral relations.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba summoned South Korean Ambassador Nam Gwan-pyo to register its protest against the ruling.

But the ruling referred to Japan's treatments of comfort women as wartime criminal acts committed "in a planned and organized manner" and rejected Tokyo's claim of sovereign immunity. These assets could be liquidated at any time, something Japan has said would inflame tensions.

Japan boycotted the proceedings and has insisted all compensations for affected women were determined through a 1965 treaty.

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"This is unacceptable to the Japanese government". That followed a move to restrict exports of materials vital to South Korean manufacturers of semiconductors and computer displays.

The latest ruling is highly likely to inflict further damage on already soured bilateral relations.

The ruling injected fresh complexities into Seoul's budding efforts to mend ties with Tokyo ahead of the January 20 launch of the USA administration of Joe Biden, who has vowed to knit back America's democratic alliances to shore up its global leadership. Tokyo could tap diplomatic options, like recalling its ambassador to South Korea, but will wait on Seoul's response for now. An estimated 725,000 Korean workers were sent to mainland Japan, Sakhalin and the southern Pacific islands to work in the mining, construction and shipbuilding industries, according to a Stanford University research paper. The ruling concluded a legal battle of more than seven years.

The Seoul Central District Court said at 9:55 a.m. on Friday that "State immunity can not be applied to crimes against humanity" in regards to the suit that 12 victims had filed against the Japanese government.

The Japanese government denies it is directly responsible for the wartime abuses, maintaining that the victims were recruited by civilians and that the military brothels were commercially operated. There are fewer than two dozen known survivors in South Korea. The deal included an apology from then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as a billion yen (roughly $8.3 million) fund to support surviving South Korean sex slaves. But many South Koreans opposed the deal, which was signed without consulting the victims, some of whom refused the money in protest. They have escalated since the election of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a center-left lawyer involved in human rights issues.

Tokyo denounced Friday's ruling as a violation of global law and summoned Seoul's ambassador to protest, demanding that the South Korean government intervene. Japan demanded an apology for that and a retraction. But their historical and territorial disputes stemming from Japan's colonial occupation have often complicated Washington's efforts to strengthen trilateral cooperation to deal with North Korea's nuclear threat and China's growing influence in the region. In 1990, Akihito expressed his "deep regret" for the colonial rule.

The issue surrounding comfort women affected South Korea deeply for decades and strained ties with Japan.

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