Regarding the Confirmation of the Judgment of the Seoul Central District Court of the Republic of Korea in the Lawsuit Filed by Former Comfort Women and Others (Statement by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu)
- In the lawsuit filed by former comfort women and others against the Government of Japan on January 8, 2021, the Seoul Central District Court of the Republic of Korea rendered a judgment which ordered the Government of Japan, inter alia, to pay compensation to the plaintiffs, denying the application of the principle of State immunity under international law. On January 23, 2021, this judgment was confirmed.
- Under international law, a state is, in principle, not to be subject to the jurisdiction of other states, as each state has sovereignty and states exist on an equal basis with each other. Japan has repeatedly expressed its position that this lawsuit therefore must be dismissed because it is not acceptable for the Government of Japan to be subject to the jurisdiction of the Republic of Korea in accordance with this principle of State immunity in international law. The fact that the Seoul Central District Court of the Republic of Korea recently rendered the judgment denying the application of the principle of State immunity is clearly contrary to the international law which was also articulated in the judgment of the International Court of Justice.
- The Agreement on the Settlement of Problem concerning Property and Claims and on the Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea of 1965 stipulated that the issue concerning property and claims between Japan and the Republic of Korea, including the issue of comfort women, was “settled completely and finally” and no contention shall be made (Article II). As such, this Agreement has provided the basis for the bilateral relationship up until now.
- In addition, it is confirmed that the issue of comfort women was “resolved finally and irreversibly” with the agreement reached at the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in December 2015. The Government of Japan has implemented all measures it committed to under this agreement. The Government of the Republic of Korea also acknowledges that this agreement is an official agreement between the two governments and the international community has been closely following the implementation of the agreement by the Government of the Republic of Korea.
- This judgment is extremely regrettable and absolutely unacceptable, as it is clearly contrary to international law and agreements between the two countries.
- Japan once again strongly urges the Republic of Korea to immediately take appropriate measures to remedy the status of its breaches of international law on its own responsibility as a country.
(Reference) Agreement on the Settlement of Problem Concerning Property and Claims and on the Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea (excerpt)
1. The Contracting Parties confirm that problem concerning property, rights and interests of the two Contracting Parties and their nationals (including juridical persons) and concerning claims between the Contracting Parties and their nationals, including those provided for in Article IV, paragraph (a) of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed at the city of San Francisco on September 8, 1951, is settled completely and finally.
3. Subject to the provisions of paragraph 2, no contention shall be made with respect to the measures on property, rights and interests of either Contracting Party and its nationals which are within the jurisdiction of the other Contracting Party on the date of the signing of the present Agreement, or with respect to any claims of either Contracting Party and its nationals against the other Contracting Party and its nationals arising from the causes which occurred on or before the said date.
(Reference) Announcement by Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Republic of Korea at the Joint Press Occasion
(Reference) Japan’s Efforts on the Issue of Comfort Women (PDF)