Mainichi spotlighted the Seoul Central District Court ruling on Monday rejecting a petition filed by former requisitioned workers for a dozen Japanese firms to pay damages for the forced labor they performed during WWII, saying that the latest verdict has rocked the South Korean judiciary since it flew in the face of the top ROK court’s decision a few years ago ordering Japanese corporations to compensate forced laborers. The daily explained that the same judge ruled against former comfort women in March when they requested court authorization to seize the assets of a Japanese firm to use them as compensation. According to the paper, South Korean judges are more prone than their Japanese counterparts to cite their personal views and beliefs in drafting and handing down verdicts. While pointing out that the Moon administration has insisted that it will respect judicial decisions in response to Japan’s calls for taking proper steps to resolve the comfort women and forced labor disputes, the daily said the legitimacy of this approach is being undermined because ROK courts have been issuing conflicting rulings.
Yomiuri ran a similar report, noting that criticism of the latest court decision has surged within leftist circles in particular since the presiding judge referred to Japan’s “contributions” to South Korea’s “miraculous economic development” in the 1960s and 70s in dismissing the victims’ compensation claims. The daily cited a South Korean media outlet as saying that President Moon’s conciliatory approach toward Tokyo has prompted the local judiciary to take into account relations with Japan as a factor in drafting verdicts on the history disputes.