International Law as Memorial Sites: The “Comfort Women” Lawsuits Revisited

In: The Korean Journal of International and Comparative Law
Kohki Abe Kanagawa University Law School Yokohama Japan

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This article revisits the legal and philosophical frontiers passionately explored in the “comfort women” lawsuits in Japan. The epoch-making judicial battle challenging the legality and legitimacy of Japanese military sexual slavery has created an innovative space for combining justice and history. Of enormous practical import are a series of lower court judgments that determined the wrongfulness of Japan’s shameful involvement in the heinous abusive practices during the wartime period. Invoking the nebulous concept of the “Framework” of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, the Supreme Court rendered a decision in 2007 to procedurally shut the door to the war reparation claims. The decision, however, may not be sustained from the perspective of contemporary international law that is increasingly infused with the quality of trans-temporal justice. The author argues that the Government of Japan should discharge its responsibility by faithfully adopting measures required under international law, an act powerfully called for in the “Age of Apology” and within a new global paradigm against violence against women.

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