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Japanese newspaper wins defamation case in regards to articles published about comfort women on Jeju, Korea
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승인 2017.10.31  13:53:30
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The Asahi Shimbun has won a defamation lawsuit brought against it by 28 Japanese citizens in regards to articles the newspaper published in the 1980s and 1990s about comfort women on Jeju.

The Japanese Supreme Court ruled, on Oct. 26, in favor of the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's most influential newspaper. The articles in question cited testimony by author Seiji Yoshida, who claimed that he had been involved in coercing 200 women on Jeju Island and forcing them to work at Japanese military brothels during World War II.

However, while women from other areas of Korea were forced into becoming comfort women, no evidence of this has ever been found on Jeju. Because of this, the newspaper retracted its articles in 2014.

After this retraction, 28 right wing Japanese citizens filed a lawsuit for defamation saying that the public’s right to know had been restricted by the paper’s long years of erroneous reports. They each demanded compensation of 10,000 yen (around 110,000 won).

However, this lawsuit was eventually dismissed by the Japanese court which stated that the articles “do not constitute the infringement of specific individual’s defamation or privacy” and that “if such a damage claim suit against news organizations is accepted, it will severely restrict the freedom of the press.”

Author Yoshida published two books in the 1980s, in which he wrote that he had “hunted out” roughly 200 young women on Jeju during wartime. He claimed to have worked for a labor recruitment organization in Yamaguchi Prefecture during the war. It is these claims that the articles were cited.

Years later, when the issue made headlines in Korea, reporters, historians, and even Korean researchers conducted surveys on the island to confirm the facts.

However, no hard evidence or testimony was found supporting the account of Seiji Yoshida. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly raised his voice, saying that the paper’s “erroneous reports” have aggravated the so-called comfort women issue.

The term “comfort women” is a euphemism referring to women forced into sexual servitude in Japanese military brothels during World War II. Media outlets and activists often describe them as “sex slaves,” given the horrible conditions they faced.

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