Chinese Comfort Women v. Japan
Filed August 7, 1995
- August 1995 - A group of Chinese war victims filed a lawsuit before the Tokyo District Court demanding ¥220 million in damages from the Japanese government for atrocities committed during the 1937 Sino-Japanese War. The plaintiffs included four former comfort women.
- May 2001 - the Tokyo District Court dismissed the claims, finding that an individual had no right to sue a country for compensation and that the reparations issue between the two nations was resolved by the Sino-Japanese Joint Communique of 1972.
- June 2001 - Plaintiffs appealed to the Tokyo High Court.
- December 2004 - the Tokyo High Court rejected the demands of the four former comfort women for an official apology from the Japanese government and for the monetary damages. The court held that the Japanese government had no responsibility and the statute of limitations had expired. The plaintiffs subsequently appealed to the Japanese Supreme Court.
Filed February 23, 1996
- February 1996 - Two Chinese women filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court seeking an apology and a compensation of ¥20 million each. In 1999, while the case was pending, one of the women died.
- March 2002 - the Tokyo District Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims The presiding judge stated that: “We cannot admit any individual right to demand compensation from the state.” The court recognized post-traumatic syndrome disorder as part of damages for the first time. The plaintiffs appealed. Read the court’s decision (Japanese text).
- March 2005 - the Tokyo High Court upheld the ruling of the Tokyo District Court. The high court also ruled that the sexual assault against them was not systematically conducted or authorized by the Japanese government
- April 2007 – The Supreme Court rejected appeals for both groups, ruling that the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communique bars Chinese individuals from seeking war compensation through the courts.
Women from Shan-xi Province, China
Filed October 30, 1998
- October 1998 - Nine Chinese women filed a lawsuit before the Tokyo District. The suit accused the Japanese government of failing to provide compensation as required under international laws and to enact laws to provide redress. They asked for the compensation in the amount of ¥200 million in damages. The women were not forced into sexual slavery but were rather the victims of repeated rape by Japanese Imperial forces.
- April 2003 - Tokyo District Court dismissed the claims because there was no law requiring the government to compensate women at the time, together with the expiration of the plaintiffs’ right to claim compensation under the Civil Code. However, the court urged the Japanese government to reach a settlement. The presiding judge said he found the plaintiffs’ claims truthful and he accused the Japanese government of negligence in maintaining troop order.
- May 2003 - The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Tokyo District Court and welcomed the court’s suggestion, expressing hope that the Japanese government would comply with it.
- March 2005 - the Tokyo High Court upheld the ruling of the Tokyo District Court, rejecting the plaintiffs’ demands for an apology and compensation. Plaintiffs appealed to the Japanese Supreme Court.
- November 2005 - The Supreme Court rejected the appeal.
Read more detailed summaries of the lawsuits at the GWU Memory and Reconciliation in the Pacific website.
Taiwanese Comfort Women
Filed July 14, 1999
- July 1999 – The first lawsuit by Taiwanese women was filed with the Tokyo District Court. They demanded ¥10 million (US$84,000) each and an official apology from the national government for the suffering they endured as enforced sex slaves.
- Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the case was different from the one brought previously by South Korean comfort women in that the 1952 Taipei-Tokyo peace agreement, under which Taipei waived any damage claims against Japan, was annulled in 1972.
- October 2002 - The Tokyo District Court dismissed the claims.
- October 2002 - Plaintiffs appealed to the Tokyo High Court.
- February 2004 - The Tokyo High Court, upholding the 2002 District Court ruling, rejected the appeal for an official apology and for damages. Read the court's decision here (Japanese text).
- February 2004 - Plaintiffs appealed to the Japanese Supreme Court which within days rejected the appeal. This ended their legislative options in Japan.
- February 2005 - Support groups from Taiwan for these former comfort women brought the case to the United Nations.
Filed July 16, 2001
- July 2001 - Eight former comfort women from Hainan Island filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against Japan in which they demanded a total of ¥24 million in compensation and an official, published apology. The lawsuit was the first in which plaintiffs sought compensation for continuing psychological trauma suffered after the war instead of asking for direct damages related to having been forced into slavery.
- The Tokyo District Court acknowledged that the women were kidnapped and forced to work as sex slaves, but ruled that their right to pursue compensation had expired.
- Plaintiffs appealed to the Tokyo High Court. The case is still ongoing.
Dutch Comfort Woman
Filed: January 24, 1994
January 1994 - Under the auspices of the Hague-based Foundation for Japanese Honorary Debts, eight Dutch citizens, including one former comfort woman, filed a suit with the Tokyo District Court demanding ¥2.45 million each (US$24,000) as compensation for their torture and suffering during WW II. This was the first lawsuit filed by Europeans against the Japanese government. Plaintiffs alleged that the Japanese Imperial Army’s acts violated Geneva Conventions and other international agreements.
November 1998 – The Tokyo Court dismissed the claims. Though the presiding judge accepted the plaintiffs’ argument they were forced into labor, he found that international law did not give individuals the right to seek redress for suffering during war. In addition, the Japanese government had already paid compensation under the terms of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and a bilateral protocol in 1956. Read the court’s decision here (Japanese text).
- December 1998 - Plaintiffs appealed to the Tokyo High Court.
- October 2001 - The Tokyo High Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the District Court’s ruling.
- October 2001 - Plaintiffs made a final appeal to Japan’s Supreme Court.
- March 2004 - The Japanese Supreme Court rejected the appeal and ended the plaintiffs’ judicial avenues for redress in Japan.