Japanese man convicted of defaming sex slaves

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Japanese man convicted of defaming sex slaves

The Seoul Central District Court yesterday convicted a Japanese right-wing activist of defaming Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II, the so-called comfort women.

In a related matter, the court awarded a family member of independence activist Yoon Bong-gil 10 million won ($8,780) for damages. Nobuyuki Suzuki, 47, a member of a Japanese extreme right-wing party, was sued after having tied a wooden stake with the message “Takeshima [Japan’s name for the Dokdo islets] is Japan’s territory” to a symbolic statue dedicated to the women last year.

The statue is located in front of the Japanese embassy in central Seoul.

Yoon’s family member also filed a defamation lawsuit against the Japanese man for placing a similarly controversial stake at a monument in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, commemorating the Korean independence activist.

Suzuki has described Yoon as a terrorist and has rationalized forced sexual slavery as “voluntary prostitution” on his blog, saying there is no record backing up forced sexual services to Japanese military personnel.

“Suzuki hurt the reputation of the [Korean independence] activist by spreading false information and insulted him by placing the stake at the memorial,” Judge Lee Jae-eun said.

The Japanese activist denied any wrongdoing and did not show up for court. The court sent a writ of summons, but Suzuki responded by sending the wooden stake. Legal professionals say it will take a long time for the plaintiff to receive any damages since the case is transnational.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]
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