(Yomiuri: January 14, 2016 – p. 2)
By Munenori Inoue
SEOUL – On Jan. 13, the Seoul Eastern District Court ordered Sejong University Prof. Park Yu-ha, 58, the author of a book titled “Comfort Women of the Empire,” to compensate former comfort women for damages, saying she defamed the honor of the former comfort women. Since the court has accepted the demand that the honor of former comfort women be restored, there is a possibility that moves opposing the agreement between Japan and South Korea on the comfort women issue will gain steam and have an impact on the implementation of the accord even though President Park Geun-hye has adopted a positive stance.
The lawsuit was filed by nine former comfort women. They reacted strongly to last December’s agreement between Japan and South Korea, saying, “An apology by the Japanese government is not enough. Our honor has not yet been restored.” The plaintiffs held a press conference in which they said that they would pursue the Japanese government’s legal responsibility regardless of the agreement between the two countries, while calling for the restoration of their honor.
At a press conference on Jan. 13, President Park called for understanding from former comfort women and others on the deal with Japan. But it remains to be seen whether the former comfort women will heed her call.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indirectly criticized the court ruling against the professor, saying, “Generally speaking, it is important for freedom of expression to be guaranteed in any country.” (Abridged)