Chinese ‘comfort women’ families demand apology, compensation from Japan in landmark suit

Chinese ‘comfort women’ families demand apology, compensation from Japan in landmark suitChinese ‘comfort women’ families demand apology, compensation from Japan in landmark suit
via Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders /
Families of deceased Chinese “comfort women” have filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against the Japanese government, seeking justice for wartime atrocities in a case that may influence future compensation claims.
Key points:
  • The lawsuit, filed at a court in China’s Shanxi province, follows a successful 2021 precedent in South Korea.
  • Plaintiffs demand formal apologies and financial compensation, emphasizing the need for recognition and redress for the victims’ wartime suffering.
  • The case faces significant challenges, including issues of sovereign immunity and China-Japan relations, which may impact the court’s decision and its enforcement.
The details:
  • The lawsuit was filed by family members of 18 deceased Chinese “comfort women” in mid-April, according to local media. It seeks a formal apology and 2 million yuan ($276,000) per victim from the Japanese government.
  • Around 20,000 Chinese women were coerced into working in Japanese military brothels during World War II. These women, alongside many others from Asia, were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army.
  • Numerous lawsuits have been filed in Japanese courts by Chinese “comfort women” since the 90s, all of which have been dismissed. The Japanese Supreme Court upheld that individual claims for damages were waived under the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communique.
  • In 2021, the Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of the “comfort women,” ordering the Japanese government to pay each victim 100 million Korean won ($91,000 at the time). While Tokyo ignored the landmark ruling, it has influenced the current lawsuit in China.
  • The Chinese court is expected to decide whether to accept the lawsuit in about a month. If accepted, the litigation could extend over several years due to its complex and sensitive nature.
  • The lawsuit reflects a longstanding grievance that has persisted for decades and continues to affect diplomatic relations between Japan, China and other Asian countries. Tokyo’s historical reluctance to fully acknowledge and apologize for such war crimes continues to strain its international relationships.
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