South Korea court begins trial on wartime sex slaves


South Korea starts hearing on Wednesday a compensation lawsuit filed by victims of Japan’s wartime sex slavery, widely known as comfort women, local media reported.

At least 20 plaintiffs had filed a suit three years ago against the Japanese government for its alleged sex slavery during its rule over Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945, demanding financial compensation of 200 million South Korean won ($171,300) per person, according to Yonhap news agency.

The trial remained stalled until recently as Tokyo returned the Seoul court’s notice on the lawsuit, delaying further proceedings, the news agency said.

However, the court began a legal process that assumes the notice was handed to the defendant if the defendant continues to refuse to accept it, enabling the trial to begin.

The Japanese government is not planning to attend the first hearing in Seoul, Tokyo-based newspaper the Japan Times reported Tuesday, citing informed sources.

Earlier this year, Japan had slowed down export to South Korea of three core materials used in semiconductors, smartphones and televisions, a move seen as retaliation by Tokyo against a South Korean court’s earlier ruling that ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation to wartime forced labor victims.

South Korea imports almost 90% of the equipment from Japan.
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