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Hwang Geum Joo v. Japan

Memorandum Opinion, 4 Oct 2001, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, United States

Between 1931 and 1945, some 200,000 women were forced into sexual slaverty by the Japenese Army. These women, referred to as “comfort women” were recruited through forcible abductions, deception and coercion. Once captured, they were taken by the Japanese military to “comfort stations”, that is, facilities seized or built by the military near the front lines for express purpose of housing these women. Once there, the women would be repeatedly raped, tortured, beaten, mutilated and sometimes murdered. They were denied proper medical attention, shelter and nutrition.

The present lawsuit was brought by fifteen former “comfort women” against Japan on the basis of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the action on the grounds that Japan enjoyed immunity from proceedings as a sovereign State and the action did not fall within any of the exceptions to immunity enumerated in the FSIA.


Hwang Geum Joo v. Japan

Opinion of the Court, 27 Jun 2003, United States Court of Appeal, District of Columbia, Unites States of America, United States

Between 1931 and 1945, some 200,000 women were forced into sexual slaverty by the Japenese Army. These women, referred to as “comfort women” were recruited through forcible abductions, deception and coercion. Once captured, they were taken by the Japanese military to “comfort stations”, that is, facilities seized or built by the military near the front lines for express purpose of housing these women. Once there, the women would be repeatedly raped, tortured, beaten, mutilated and sometimes murdered. They were denied proper medical attention, shelter and nutrition.

The present lawsuit was brought by fifteen former “comfort women” against Japan on the basis of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the action on the grounds that Japan enjoyed immunity from proceedings as a sovereign State and the action did not fall within any of the exceptions to immunity enumerated in the FSIA. On appeal, the present decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court. 


Hwang Geum Joo v. Japan

Opinion of the Court, 28 Jun 2005, United States Court of Appeal, District of Columbia, Unites States of America, United States

Between 1931 and 1945, some 200,000 women were forced into sexual slaverty by the Japenese Army. These women, referred to as “comfort women” were recruited through forcible abductions, deception and coercion. Once captured, they were taken by the Japanese military to “comfort stations”, that is, facilities seized or built by the military near the front lines for express purpose of housing these women. Once there, the women would be repeatedly raped, tortured, beaten, mutilated and sometimes murdered. They were denied proper medical attention, shelter and nutrition.

The present lawsuit was brought by fifteen former “comfort women” against Japan. Having been unsuccessful before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case. By its decision of 28 June 2005, the Court of Appeals once again dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the Appellant’s claims were non-justiciable under the political question doctrine as they would require the Courts to interpret treaties concluded between foreign States. 


Shimoda et al.

Judgment, 7 Dec 1963, District Court, Tokyo Japan, Japan

Residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki jointly brought an action against the government of Japan for the damages they and members of their families suffered as a result of the atomic bombings by the United States in August 1945.

Among other things, it was alleged that the dropping of the atomic bombs was an unlawful act and that Japan's waiver of claims for damages under domestic and international law against the US gave rise to an obligation for the government of Japan itself to pay damages.

The Court held that the dropping of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were violations of the laws and customs of war, because the attacks did not distinguish between military and civilian targets and inflicted unnecessary suffering. The Court ruled that the bombings, as an indiscriminate bombardment on undefended cities were unlawful acts.

With regard to the claim of the plaintiffs for damages, the Court ruled that individuals did not have rights under international law unless specifically provided for. Since this was not the case, the Court held that individuals could not claim damages directly under international law. The claim was dismissed by the Court on this ground.


The Prosecutors and the Peoples of the Asia-Pacific Region v. Hirohito et al.

Judgement, 4 Dec 2001, The Women's International War Crimes Tribunal for the Trial of Japan's Military Sexual Slavery, Japan


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