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The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"The Japanese courts have consistently backed the position of the government"
 real 28k

Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Japan overturns sex slave ruling
A former comfort woman in South Korea
As many as 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery
A Japanese court has overturned the first and so far only compensation award ever made to World War II sex slaves, prompting outrage in South Korea.


All victimised countries in Asia will fight to the end until the day will come for the Japanese government to pay damages

Chongdaehyop coalition
Hiroshima's High Court reversed a 1998 district court ruling that ordered the Japanese government to pay a total of 900,000 yen ($7,260) in damages to three South Korean women.

Presiding judge Toshiaki Kawanami said abducting the women to use them as forced labourers and sex slaves was not a serious constitutional violation.

The three women were among 10 plaintiffs who had asked for a total of 564m yen ($44.3m) in compensation.

Fury

A coalition of 22 South Korean civic groups on Thursday furiously condemned the Hiroshima ruling.

The coalition, known as Chongdaehyop, said in a statement: "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".

Comfort women campaigners protest
Former 'comfort women' are demanding an official apology
"All victimised countries in Asia will fight to the end until the day will come for the Japanese government to pay damages" it added.

The three former sex slaves and seven forced labourers, including one who has since died, argued they were deceived by the Japanese government.

The former sex slaves said they were taken to brothels in Taiwan and Shanghai to provide sex to Japanese troops between 1937 and 1940.

The forced labourers came to Japan around 1943 to work at a factory in Toyama, central Japan. They never received any payment, the court heard.

Landmark decision

In the original 1998 ruling, the Yamaguchi District Court said the Japanese government has failed to enact laws to accommodate the payment of compensation to sex slaves.

A former comfort woman
For former sex slaves memories are bitter
The women and their supporters hailed the ruling as a landmark decision.

But they also appealed against the amount of compensation, saying it was too small.

The Japanese government also appealed, refusing to pay compensation.

Tokyo has acknowledged that its wartime army set up brothels and forced thousands of Koreans into military service, but it has refused to pay direct, or official compensation to individuals.

The Japanese government officially admitted the existence of the military brothels in 1992.

As many as 200,000 women, mostly Korean but also Filipinos, Chinese and Dutch, were forced into sexual slavery during World War II.

Nine court cases seeking compensation from former sex slaves from Asian women are still pending in Japan.

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See also:

27 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Wartime 'sex slaves' get compensation
29 Mar 98 | Despatches
Korean comfort women compensated
26 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court rejects Korean wartime claim
08 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Sex slaves put Japan on trial
06 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
No compensation for Japan sex slaves
30 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Sex slave loses compensation bid
29 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Nanjing survivor sues Japanese authors
29 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan war slaves get $4.6m
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