Comfort Women: Case Comment: Nishimatsu Construction Co. v. Song Jixiao Et Al., Supreme Court of Japan (2d Petty Bench), April 27, 2007, and Ko Hanako Et Al. V. Japan, Supreme Court of Japan (1st Petty Bench), April 27, 2007
American Journal of International Law, Vol. 102, No. 1, pp. 148-154, January 2008
6 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2010 Last revised: 25 May 2011
Date Written: January 1, 2008
The panoply of claims against Japan and Japanese parties arising from wartime acts in the mid-twentieth century remains a pressing matter of diplomacy, international affairs, economic affairs, and domestic politics for the many nations involved in Imperial Japan’s fifteen-year wars in Asia and the Pacific. One strand in this tangled web - involving claims for compensation in Japanese domestic courts - was firmly cut by the Japanese Supreme Court in a linked pair of decisions handed down in April 2007. The court dismissed two claims brought by kidnapped Chinese victims, one of which was forced into hard labor and the other into sexual slavery. The decisions, determined by two separate panels of the Court, presented verbatim identical reasoning that the terms of the Japan-China Joint Communiqué of 1972 implicitly incorporated by reference provisions of the San Francisco Peace Treaty to bar compensation claims by private individuals against Japan and its nationals for wartime acts. The holdings effectively foreclose all pending and future similar lawsuits in Japanese domestic courts. This article analyzes both decisions and how justice still eludes the victims of Imperial Japan’s wartime actions.
Keywords: Comfort Women, Ianfu, Japanese wartime forced labor, Japanese wartime sexual slavery, World War II restorative justice, Supreme Court of Japan, Nishimatsu Construction Co., Song Jixiao, Ko Hanako, Japan-China Joint Communique of 1972, San Francisco Peace Treaty Article 14(b)
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