National

Japan likely to skip first hearing in South Korea 'comfort women' lawsuit

JIJI, Staff Report

The central government isn’t planning to attend the first hearing on a lawsuit seeking damages from Japan for former “comfort women” in South Korea, to be held Wednesday, informed sources said Tuesday.

Comfort women is a euphemism for women who worked at wartime Japanese brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.

Strained tensions between Japan and South Korea could deteriorate further depending on how the trial goes.

According to media reports, 20 people, including former comfort women, filed the lawsuit with Seoul Central District Court, demanding the Japanese government pay some 3 billion won (about ¥282 million) in compensation.

The plaintiffs claimed that the 2015 bilateral agreement to resolve the comfort women issue “finally and irreversibly” did not discuss Japan’s responsibility for its inhumane wrongdoing.

The suit was filed in late 2016, but the start of the trial was postponed by the district court after Japan refused to participate in the case.

In March this year, the district court made public the complaint and related documents, a legal step that presumes the documents have been conveyed to the Japanese government, enabling the court to start the trial in May or later.