Last of district court-level sex slave lawsuits fails

The Tokyo District Court on Wednesday dismissed a damages suit filed by eight Chinese women against the Japanese government for forcing them to provide sex to Imperial soldiers during the war and not taking measures to restore their honor.

The plaintiffs, two of whom had died, after which their suit was taken up by relatives, were in their teens when the Imperial Japanese Army occupied China’s Hainan Island and forced them to work as sex slaves, euphemistically called “comfort women” in Japan.

The latest court ruling is the last case involving comfort women at the district court level, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Ten lawsuits involving sexual slavery have been filed to date, and only one ended in a favorable district court ruling. Seven have been dismissed and two are pending before the Supreme Court.

The women say they have been treated coldly by neighbors, and sometimes by their own family members, because of their forced prostitution. They claim such attitudes are a result of Tokyo’s failure to acknowledge the abuse they endured and to offer an official apology.

The plaintiffs also claim they continue to suffer posttraumatic stress disorder.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in July 2001, initially seeking 3 million yen each in compensation and an official apology from the government.