Court rejects women's appeal
Asahi Shimbun

December 7, 2000

The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal against a Tokyo District
Court decision by a group of Filipinas who are seeking compensation from the
government for being forced to serve as ``comfort women'' for the Imperial
Japanese Army during World War II.

A total of 46 women, including 10 who have died before the lower court's
ruling, want 20 million yen each in compensation for being made to provide
sex to Japanese soldiers during the war.

But Presiding Judge Masato Niimura agreed with the district court ruling,
saying there was no legal basis for the women to seek compensation.

Niimura said that the issue of assigning penalties for illegal acts during
wars, the responsibility of countries whose forces were involved in such
acts, and compensation for victims were matters that should be resolved under
international law.

He said the issue of paying compensation was a political judgment and not for
domestic courts to address.

Niimura also rejected the notion that even if the right had existed, the
period during which the plaintiffs could have made claims against the
Japanese government had expired long ago. While recognizing the difficulty of
making individual claims given the difficult political situation that
prevailed in the Philippines immediately after the war, Niimura said that
alone was insufficient reason to extend the period for lodging a claim.

Niimura also rejected the right of women to make claims under The Hague
Convention, which outlined nation's responsibilities to pay compensation.

In noting that the former comfort women had also claimed that members of the
Diet were neglecting legislation under which redress could be provided, the
judge said that, in principle, Diet members had a political responsibility
toward the people of Japan and not a legal obligation.

The plaintiffs said they would appeal the ruling.