Japan rejects comfort women claims
Lawyers accused the Japanese Government of "inaction" over legislating state compensations for sex slave atrocities during war time.
Sakaguchi Sadahiko from Tokyo-based Johoku Law Office said the Japanese Government is obliged to make a special law on wartime compensations and its inaction has constituted an obstacle to the victims' legitimate demand for justice.
Although the presiding Judge Hiromu Emi, admitted the wartime sex slavery gave the plaintiffs severe physical and mental damage, he refused to support their compensation claim citing a treaty signed after the war and the statute of limitations.
Sadahiko, who is one of the seven Japanese lawyers representing the victims, described the ruling as "a great pity", saying it is an "unjust" verdict.
The wartime atrocities violated human rights and did great damage to the dignity of the "comfort women," the lawyer continued.
"We insist that it is totally unacceptable to impose the statue of limitations upon the issues concerning people's human rights and dignity," Sadahiko said.
In March 2002, the Tokyo District Court acknowledged the Japanese troops forcibly took, confined, beat and raped the two women, and that they have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since.
But it rejected their compensation claims, citing a rule stipulating that the current government cannot be held responsible for any acts by the state under the former Constitution of the Empire of Japan.
Guo Xicui, 79, one of the plaintiffs, turned up at the court on Friday.
The other plaintiff, Hou Qiaolian, died in 1999 at the age of 70, while the case was still pending.
The Japanese soldiers abducted separately the two victims at the age of 13 and 15 respectively in 1942 to a military facility where they were beaten and raped for up to a few months.
They originally filed the lawsuit in 1996 and demanded the Japanese Government to pay them 23 million yen (US$ 220,000) each in compensation.
Chinese Lawyer Kang Jian said at a news conference on Friday that the victims' claim is not a matter of demanding compensations, but is related to how the Japanese Government treats history.
"As the number of the living victims is dwindling year on year, we hope the Japanese Government can face the truth as soon as possible," she said.
(China Daily 03/19/2005 page2)