A South Korean victim of wartime sex slavery on Friday said she would file a lawsuit in a US court against the Japanese government and other wartime entities, seeking compensation for damages caused by military sexual enslavement that Tokyo has refused to acknowledge.
Yoo Hee-nam, 87, will sue Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese conglomerates that were involved with Japanese military expansion during World War II, according to Kim Hyung-jin, an attorney representing Yoo in the case.
She will also file a defamation suit against the Shankei Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper that called Korean sex slaves "prostitutes" in an article, the lawyer said. Yoo will seek compensation worth $20 million in the case that marks the second sex-slavery trial in the US since 2000, when the victims lost.
"We will press charges against about 1,000 Japanese individuals and entities, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese wartime conglomerates, for committing crimes against humanity and defaming victims of sexual enslavement (by the imperial Japanese Army)," Kim told The Korea Herald.
Kim also said Yoo decided to take the case to the US because former sex slaves have made no progress in their two-year court battle in Seoul. In 2013, 12 sex-slavery victims filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government and sought financial compensation for forcing them to work in military brothels.
But the Japanese government has dismissed the charge and refused to appear at the court. Tokyo has rejected the court's request to submit documents related to the case, claiming they are beyond the Seoul court's jurisdiction.
Kim added that a legal battle on US soil would encourage Japan to change its attitude toward the victims, saying Tokyo is sensitive toward international opinions, particularly those of the US
In the meantime, Seoul has continued its effort to resolve the wartime sex slavery issue with Tokyo. It is widely expected that Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will discuss the matter with his Japanese counterpart during his visit to Tokyo from Sunday to Monday.
"We sincerely hope that Seoul and Tokyo will hammer out the agreement and resolve the (sex slavery) issue as soon as possible," said Kim.
"Until then, we will bring the case to the court all over the world, no matter how long it will take."