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Victim asks Seoul to bring wartime sex slavery issue to ICJ

National 11:41 February 16, 2021

SEOUL, Feb. 16 (Yonhap) -- A former wartime sexual slavery victim demanded Tuesday that Seoul bring the issue of forced sexual slavery by Japan to the International Court of Justice, denouncing Japan's continued denials and a Harvard professor's recent controversial claims.

Lee Yong-soo, one of 15 registered surviving South Korean victims of sexual slavery by Japan during World War II, said during a press conference in Seoul that the issue warranted a judgment by the international court, as Japan has been unresponsive to a Seoul court's ruling in favor of victims, citing sovereign immunity.

"I plead with the government to hold Japan accountable under the international law," Lee said. "I hope the two nations resolve the issue permanently at the international court and live in peace with each other."

Last month, the court ordered Japan to make reparations of 100 million won (US$88,944) each to 12 former sex slaves, euphemistically called "comfort women," who filed the suit.

Lee Yong-soo, one of 15 registered surviving victims of sexual slavery by Japan during World War II, speaks during a press conference in Seoul on Feb. 16, 2021. (Yonhap)

The diplomatically sticky issue between Seoul and Tokyo has recently gained renewed attention after J. Mark Ramseyer, a Harvard Law Professor, claimed in a controversial paper that the victims were not coerced or forced into working at Japan's front-line brothels but were voluntarily employed.

The paper, which is at odds with historical consensus, triggered backlash, especially among victims themselves and Korean Harvard students who called his claims "incorrect and misleading."

"Japan insisted the Korean court violated international laws (by not granting Japan sovereign immunity) and is still lying (about history) by using the Harvard professor," Lee said. "We are not asking for money. We want complete acknowledgement and an apology."

The 92-year-old is scheduled to speak at a webinar, "Debunking Japanese Denialism on the 'Comfort Women' Issue through the Grassroots Movement in the U.S." held by the Harvard Asian Pacific American Law Students Association at 7 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. time)

This file photo, taken Feb. 3, 2021, shows a statue symbolizing victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery in Seoul. (Yonhap)


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