Ex-S Korean sex slaves sue govt over pay out

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

TWELVE South Korean women who were forced into sex­ual slav­ery by Ja­panese mil­i­tary dur­ing World War II have sued the Seoul gov­ern­ment over a deal it reached with Tokyo to pay the victims, say­ing it does not go far enough to es­tab­lish Ja­pan’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The women are seek­ing $90 000 each from the South Korean gov­ern­ment, which they say failed to hold the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment legally re­spon­si­ble when it agreed to the set­tle­ment in De­cem­ber, a spokesman from the Seoul Cen­tral Dis­trict Court said yes­ter­day.

The law­suit was sub­mit­ted days after South Korea’s For­eign Min­istry said the sur­viv­ing victims will each be el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive around $90 000 from a foun­da­tion funded by the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment.

The min­istry said fam­i­lies of de­ceased victims will re­ceive about $18 000 and added it ex­pects the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment to soon trans­fer a promised $9.9m to the Seoul-based foun­da­tion that was launched in July.

Many in South Korea be­lieve the Seoul gov­ern­ment set­tled for far less and that Ja­pan still has not ac­knowl­edged le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity for atroc­i­ties dur­ing its colo­nial oc­cu­pa­tion of the Korean Penin­sula from 1910 to 1945.

Sev­eral South Korean victims, in­clud­ing at least six of the women who sued the South Korean gov­ern­ment, said they will re­ject pay­ments of­fered from the foun­da­tion.

Un­der the De­cem­ber agree­ment, de­scribed by both gov­ern­ments as “ir­re­versible”, Ja­pan pledged to fund the foun­da­tion to help sup­port the victims.

How­ever, it added that it did not con­sider the promised fund as com­pen­sa­tion, say­ing such is­sues were set­tled in a 1965 treaty that re­stored diplo­matic ties and was ac­com­pa­nied by more than $800m in eco­nomic aid and loans from Tokyo to Seoul.

South Korea, in ex­change, vowed to re­frain from crit­i­cis­ing Ja­pan over the is­sue and will try to re­solve a Ja­panese griev­ance over a statue of a girl rep­re­sent­ing victims of sex­ual slav­ery that sits in front of the Ja­panese Em­bassy in down­town Seoul.

His­to­ri­ans say tens of thou­sands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front­line mil­i­tary broth­els, where they were dubbed “com­fort women”, and used by Ja­panese sol­diers for sex.

At the time of the sex-slave deal, Seoul said there were 46 sur­viv­ing South Korean victims. — Al Jazeera

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