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South Korea's 'comfort women' file appeal after court loss

Former South Korean “comfort women” are contesting a court decision that upheld Japan’s “sovereign immunity” from compensation claims. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Former South Korean “comfort women” are contesting a court decision that upheld Japan’s “sovereign immunity” from compensation claims. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- A dozen former "comfort women" who lost their case in a South Korean court last month are appealing the decision, according to local lawyers and activists.

A taskforce established by two groups, the Japanese Military Comfort Women Support Network and Lawyers for a Democratic Society, filed the appeal with Seoul Central District Court, which dismissed the lawsuit last month, Newsis reported Thursday.

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The appeal, filed on behalf of 12 former comfort women, is necessary, groups said.

"We will hold the perpetrators accountable for crimes against humanity," they said. "We pay our respects to the victims and their surviving families, who struggled without giving up for more than 30 years, for the realization of universal human rights."

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In April, the South Korean court upheld Japan's "sovereign immunity" and dropped the case. Victims are demanding direct compensation from the Japanese government.

Lee Yong-soo, a former comfort woman and leading activist in Korea, is on the appeal, lawyers said.

"The court ruling [in April] blocked the rights to a trial for victims of crimes against humanity and distorted their positions regarding the 2015 agreement between South Korea and Japan," they said, according to Yonhap.

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Lee, 92, has said she would take her case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

According to Newsis, her public spokesperson said Lee "expected justice and human rights would prevail" in a new trial.

Lee has been a vocal defender of comfort women. Earlier this year, she called a controversial paper authored by a Harvard Law professor "absurd."

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J. Mark Ramseyer's work, "Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War," ignited a public conversation about the women after he claimed the victims consented to rights violations. Victims have said they were beaten, raped or tortured in Japanese wartime brothels.

Ramseyer has been fighting back criticism from the academic community.

Lee Jinhee, an associate professor of history at Eastern Illinois University, told Yonhap that Ramseyer accused her of "savage attacks." Ramseyer also said in his email that Lee "defamed" him, according to the Segye Ilbo on Thursday.

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