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Access other resources about the Uchinanchu, the base issue, and other relevant issues.BackFind out about Uchinanchu and our unique history in the Ryukyus and abroad.Learn about the history of the military presence in Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands.

 

 

 

Solidarity Work with the "Comfort Women"

As noted in the following news story, the issue of governmental accountability for military actions remains a thorny one, especially in terms of Japan's ongoing refusal to compensate the "comfort women" from World War II. The Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angeles has participated in a number of events to draw attention to this issue, and continues to collaborate with other Asian and Pacific Islander organizations on this issue. On April 17, 2001, the Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angeles, in conjunction with the Young Koreans United, GABRIELA Network, Association for Victims of Japanese War Crimes, and Korean Federation of Los Angeles sponsored a joint protest around this issue at the Japanese Consulate in downtown Los Angeles.

Press Release from the April 17, 2001 Protest on the "Comfort Women" Issue and the Revision of Japanese Textbooks.

Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angeles Statement From the April 17, 2001 Protest.

Japan quashes World War II sex slaves' compensation
March 30, 2001

By Kiriko Nishiyama, Agence France Presse

TOKYO -- A Japanese court on Thursday overturned the only compensation award ever ordered for former World War II sex slaves, prompting outrage in South Korea. Hiroshima's High Court reversed the landmark April 1998 ruling by a lower court under which the Japanese government was to pay 300,000 yen (2,440 dollars) each in damages to three South Korean women. They were part of a group of 10 plaintiffs who had demanded 564 million yen in damages.

The ruling in their favor was the first and so far only compensation award to women who were forced to serve as "comfort women" to Japanese soldiers in front-line brothels. Around 10 similar suits have been filed against the government for its wartime predecessor's role and are awaiting court rulings.

In the case judged Thursday, both the state and plaintiffs had appealed the original judgment, with the South Koreans demanding a public apology from the government and a total of 396 million yen in compensation.

During a court hearing last year, one of the plaintiffs, 82-year-old Lee Sun-Dok, had shown a scar on her belly which she said was the legacy of Japanese soldiers' violence. The three former sex slaves and seven forced laborers, including one who has since died, argued they were deceived by the Japanese government, which lured them with talk of good business opportunities. The former sex slaves said they were taken to brothels in Taiwan and Shanghai to provide sex to Japanese troops between 1937 and 1940. Also on a false promise, the forced laborers came to Japan around 1943 to work at a factory in Toyama, central Japan. They never received any payment, the court heard.

The plaintiffs argued the government had to apologize and pay compensation for the invasion and occupation of Asian neighbors. But the state insisted such a claim had no substance under the Japanese constitution. A coalition of 22 Korean civic groups furiously condemned the Hiroshima ruling as displaying "monstrous logic." The coalition, known as Chongdaehyop in Korean, has been working for South Korean "comfort women."

"The ruling runs against the entire world's demand that the issue be settled as early as possible because many victims are getting closer to death," it said. "All victimized countries in Asia will fight to the end until the day will come for the Japanese government to pay damages." But the lower court's original ruling in 1998, while granting compensation on the grounds the government had neglected to help the sex slaves recover from their hurt, said Tokyo had no obligation to apologize officially. It also rejected the request for compensation by the seven forced laborers.

The quashing came three days after another court rejected a separate damages suit first filed by former South Korean sex slaves in December 1991. Japanese courts have consistently refused to rule in favor of direct compensation, arguing that claims on the state were settled in bilateral peace treaties after the war. The government has avoided volunteering direct compensation for the former sex slaves, instead setting up a private group, the Asian Women's Fund, to offer payouts. But many of the women have refused to accept the money. Historians say about 200,000 young women, mostly Korean but also from Taiwan, China, the Philippines and Indonesia, were forced to serve as sex slaves in Japanese army brothels during World War II.

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