Some Musings on Japanese Responses

The Korean Council
26 February 2021, 3rd International Symposium
Restoring the Right to Justice and Truth

Does the Korean Court’s Ruling “Lack Common Sense?”:
Some Musings on Japanese Responses

Abe Kohki   Professor of Peace Studies and International Law, Meiji Gakuin University
Panel 2. State immunity vs. Grave human rights violations

The judgment of the Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 8, which ordered the Japanese government to pay damages to 12 former ‘comfort women’, received highly negative (even hostile) responses from various quarters of the Japanese society. As anticipated, the Japanese government issued a statement of protest vehemently against the judgement as follows:

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.41

Among nationally circulated newspapers, the most liberal Asahi Shimbun published an editorial that does not conceal their embarrassment on the judgment42. The Asahi warns that the ruling significantly widens the rift in Japan’s relationship with South Korea, suggesting that it should have been dismissed as stressed by the Japanese Government. ....

Download pdf