Japan’s Supreme Court acknowledged on Friday that women had been coerced into sex slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, but the court still rejected claims for compensation. The court acknowledged that Japanese soldiers had kidnapped the two Chinese plaintiffs in 1942 and forced them into slavery. At the time, the women were ages 13 and 15. Because of an agreement made between China and Japan in 1972, however, the court denied compensation to the women. Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women — known now as “comfort women” — from China, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere were forced into sex slavery by World War II Japanese soldiers.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused controversy in March when he said there was no evidence that the Japanese military had coerced women into sex slavery, reversing the country’s previous position established in 1993. Just last week, Abe made his first trip to the US as prime minister, as the US House of Representatives considers a non-binding resolution condemning the Japanese military’s enslavement of women during World War II and asking for a formal apology from the Japanese Government. While Abe apologized in broad terms on Thursday during a meeting with House leaders for a “regrettable chapter in the history of the world,” he avoided acknowledging any role that the Japanese military played in the forced sex slavery.
Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) sponsored the House Resoluntion, which is not in the Committee on Foregin Affairs. Rep. Honda hopes that it will be voted on next month, according to the New York Times.