A trial on damage suit filed by South Korean victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery against the Japanese government finally had its first hearing today after three years of delay due to Japan's refusal to take part in the trial.
Japan claims that all the issues related to the so-called 'comfort women' - an euphemism for Japan's wartime sex slaves - had been settled through an agreement reached between Seoul and Tokyo in 2015, while also claiming state immunity on the case.
Today we go in-depth on the key points of the trial with Dr. Lee Kyung-eun of Amnesty International Korea.
1. Unlike the trial on Japan's wartime forced labor, which South Korea's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the victims and ordered Japanese firms to compensate them last year, the damage suit on Japan's wartime sexual slavery is filed against the Japanese government. For our viewers, could you first tell us more in detail about the wartime sexual slavery trial that began last week?
(- There was a similar case in the U.S., a South Korean victim filed a damage suit against the Japanese government. Are we still waiting for the ruling?)
2. What is the Japanese government's official stance on the wartime sexual slavery damage suit?
3. Japan is insisting state immunity on the case. Could you explain to us the definition of state immunity? Is it part of the international law?
(a sovereign state is exempt from the jurisdiction of foreign national courts)
4. Amnesty International Korea has submitted a legal statement to the Seoul Central District Court the day before the first hearing arguing that the victims' right to demand compensation should be recognized. What was contained in the document?
5. Whether the Japanese government's claim of state immunity is sustained in this case appears to be the key to the trial. How are other global human rights organizations observing the matter?
6. What are the chances of the case ending up in the Hague? If the case is taken to the International Court of Justice, how do you expect things to play out?
7. The next procedure of the 'comfort women' compensation trial is set to take place in February, next year. Could you give us a rundown of the remaining trial procedures and the key points to keep close tabs on through the process?