[EDITORIALS]Japan must pay war damagesThe Japanese judiciary ― and Japan ― finally abandoned justice and conscience. The top Japanese court Monday rejected a damage compensation lawsuit filed by 35 Koreans and their relatives forced to work as sex slaves and soldiers by the Japanese Imperial Army, ending a 13-year case. Korean victims as individuals now face a dead end in receiving compensation from Japan through legal suits.
The World War II victims have raised issues that have already been ruled state crimes by imperial Japan at various international civic courts and the U.N. Human Rights Commission, that stipulate punishment for international war criminals.
Japan’s Supreme Court acknowledged the victims’ suffering by saying Koreans were forcibly drafted to serve the Japanese military or were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers. In its contradictory ruling, the court admitted the existence of war crimes but deliberately chose not recognize financial liability.
Japan’s judiciary, which claims to be the protector of the country’s peace-oriented constitution, does not fundamentally recognize imperial Japan’s war crimes against humanity. What does justice stand for in Japan?
Immediately after the hearing began, one of the judges from the justice panel that deliberated the case read a short statement rejecting the plaintiffs’ case, saying that the case is rejected and that the plaintiffs should pay for the court costs. He then quickly walked out of the court.
We wonder whether the ruling represents the agony of the judges, the right-wing leanings of Japanese society or simply the judges’ arrogance.
The decision clearly damages the Japanese judiciary’s conscience as well as its image as the ultimate protector of freedom and human rights. It will remain as an example of a court that has ignored conscience, freedom and human rights under the pressure of right-wing nationalism.
It is unfortunate for Japan to portray itself in the international community as a shameless country even in the 21st century by failing to resolve its crimes from the imperial era. If Japan still hopes to enhance its image as a peace-loving country, equivalent to its national power, and to become a responsible leader of the international community, the nation must show courage and settle crimes committed by its government during the era of imperialism.
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