S. Korean Court Rules to Open Documents Related to Controversial Closed Door 'Comfort Women' Deal with Japan
SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean court on Friday ordered the Seoul government to disclose part of a dossier related to its negotiations for a 2015 deal with Tokyo to settle the thorny issue of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women.
The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of lawyer Song Ki-ho who filed a lawsuit last February against Seoul's foreign ministry to demand part of the documents be made public to verify the "true nature" of the deal.
Song, a member of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, the local progressive civic group, maintains that there is a need to review the documents as Tokyo has "consistently and officially" denied its wartime crimes despite the Seoul-Tokyo deal.
He has demanded the disclosure of three documents, including those concerning choices of expressions in a public statement such as the Japanese military's involvement in wartime misdeeds, sex slaves and comfort women, a euphemistic term referring to the victims.
Also among them is a document regarding the bilateral consultations over Japan's forcible mobilization of the Korean victims.
The foreign ministry said it will review the details of the court order and then take necessary steps.
On Dec. 28, 2015, Seoul's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida issued the statement on the landmark deal under which Tokyo pledged to offer 1 billion yen (US$8.6 million) for a foundation to support the victims.
In his part of the statement, Kishida said Japan "felt strongly" about its responsibility for the issue involving the Japanese military that has left deep scars on the honor and dignity of many women.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese troops during World War II. Forty South Korean victims, mostly in their late 80s, are still alive.