Japan Ordered to Pay South Korean “Comfort Women”

A Japanese court ordered Japan to pay $2,300 each to three South Korean women who were forced to work in brothels catering to Japanese World War II soldiers. Judge Hideaki Chikashita of the Yamaguchi District Court ruled that the Japanese government must compensate the women for their suffering and said that the government’s failure to do so until now was a “fundamental violation of human rights.”

The lawsuit was filed by ten women who were forced to work for the military during WW II. The court awarded claims to three of the women, but denied funds to the remaining seven, who were forced to work as factory workers rather than in brothels.

In 1992, Japan admitted that the imperial army participated in running the brothels, and, in 1993, admitted to kidnapping as many as 200,000 Asian women, euphemistically known as “comfort women,” to work as sex slaves. The Japanese government created the Asian Peace National Fund for Women, a private organization, to quietly distribute compensation to former comfort women. However, many of the women refused the money, claiming that Japan must take responsibility for its actions.

Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a professor of history at Chuo University in Tokyo, commented “The ruling should be praised for admitting responsibility, but the amount of compensation is too small.”


AP - April 27, 1998

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