Japan Foreign Minister Objects to ‘Comfort Women’ Ruling; South Korean Counterpart Says He Respects 2015 Agreement

Pool via Reuters
Foreign Minister Yoko Kaimkawa, left, shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin prior to their meeting in Busan, South Korea, on Sunday.

BUSAN, South Korea — Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa voiced objections to the South Korean high court ruling that ordered the Japanese government to pay compensation to former so-called comfort women, during a bilateral meeting with her counterpart Park Jin in Busan on Sunday.

During the meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes, Kamikawa told Park that the Seoul High Court ruling was “extremely regrettable” and urged South Korea to take appropriate measures.

Representatives of the Japanese government were not present during the court’s deliberations, and Japan has no intention of appealing the ruling, based on the principle of sovereign immunity under international law. This is the concept, customary under international law, that a sovereign state cannot be sued in a court of another sovereign state.

The South Korean court’s judgment is expected to be finalized.

In response, Park said he respected the 2015 agreement that confirmed a “final and irreversible” resolution of the comfort women issue between Japan and South Korea as an official agreement, and that South Korea intended to continue communicating with the Japanese government, according to a South Korean government official.

Unlike the lawsuits related to former wartime requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula, in which the assets of Japanese companies were seized, many believe it will not be easy for South Korea to confiscate assets in this case, as they are protected by the Vienna Convention and other treaties.

The Japanese government intends to continue working with the administration of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to build a future-oriented bilateral relationship, while closely monitoring the progress of the judicial process.

The two ministers reaffirmed their commitment to working with each other and with the United States to deal with North Korea, which launched what it claimed was a military spy satellite on Tuesday.