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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Court rejects Korean wartime claim
protest by former sex slaves
Former sex slaves have long been fighting for redress
A Tokyo court has rejected a decade-old claim for compensation by about 40 South Koreans who were forced to serve as soldiers or sex slaves by the Japanese military during World War II.

I want the Japanese to be taught that under the emperor's orders, young girls were taken away and made into sexual objects for soldiers

Sim Mijia, former sex slave
The court acknowledged their suffering, but ruled they had, as individuals, no legal right to seek compensation from Japan under international law.

The plaintiffs were ordered to pay for the costs of the lawsuit.

Some of the group reacted angrily to the ruling, approaching a court secretary and kicking his desk, Jiji Press news agency reported.

An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 women across Asia, predominantly Korean and Chinese, are believed to have been forced to work as sex slaves in Japanese military brothels.

Some "comfort women" were forced to have sex with more than two dozen soldiers a day.

Although many surviving women are now in the 70s, they have waged a long fight for an official apology and redress.

Beheading a man in China
The Japanese military has been accused of many atrocities
Japan has refused to pay direct compensation, arguing that all claims were settled by peace treaties.

Instead it has helped set up a private funding group, the Asian Women's Fund, but many have refused to accept the payouts, demanding instead that Japan should face up to its past.

The group of 40 - comprising eight former sex slaves, 16 soldiers and bereaved family members - had demanded a total of 800 million yen ($6.5m) from the government.

The group's lawyer, Kenichi Takagi, said: "The verdict is disappointing to us Japanese as well because this was our final chance to correct past wrongdoings."

Former comfort woman Sim Mijia said: "My heart ached when I heard the verdict. I want the Japanese to be taught that under the emperor's orders, young girls, 13 or 14-year-olds, were taken away and made into sexual objects for soldiers."

Japan's military past remains a thorny subject. Many of its Asian neighbours continue to protest about fresh incidences of what they regard as Japan's glossing over of wartime atrocities.

In the most recent case, China and both North and South Korea protested about the draft text of a history textbook written by nationalists.

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See also:

08 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Sex slaves put Japan on trial
01 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese history angers Koreans
05 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese history gets rewrite
06 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
No compensation for Japan sex slaves
29 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Nanjing survivor sues Japanese authors
29 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan war slaves get $4.6m
27 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Wartime 'sex slaves' get compensation
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