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Victim urges Seoul to bring wartime sex slavery issue to ICJ

Lee Yong-soo (2nd from L), one of the 15 registered surviving South Korean victims of sexual slavery by Japan during World War II, speaks during a press conference demanding the comfort women issue be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Lee Yong-soo (2nd from L), one of the 15 registered surviving South Korean victims of sexual slavery by Japan during World War II, speaks during a press conference demanding the comfort women issue be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
A former wartime sexual slavery victim pleaded with the South Korean government again on Wednesday for it to bring the issue of forced sexual slavery by Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), two months after she made the first such request.

"My wish is that President Moon Jae-in convinces Japan's prime minister to take the issue to the ICJ to reveal the truth," Lee Yong-soo, one of the 15 registered surviving South Korean victims of sexual slavery by Japan during World War II, said during a press conference in Seoul.

"Neither do I want to keep fighting like this, nor do I want the two neighbors to become enemies," she said, adding, "'Hate sin, but don't hate people' became my mantra.

"Only when sins get revealed and an apology is offered, can I be able to restore my honor," she said.

The 93-year-old victim also said she was willing to meet President Joe Biden of the United States to ask for his mediator role on the issue.

She has maintained that the issue of wartime sex slaves, euphemistically called "comfort women," warranted a judgment by the international court, as Japan has been unresponsive to a Seoul court's ruling in favor of victims citing sovereign immunity.

The ICJ, located in The Hague, Netherlands, has judicial authority under the United Nations to settle disputes between nations.

She said she and other surviving victims could only live in peace when the two nations resolve the issue permanently at the international court.

Prior to the press event, Lee visited the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to give her letter addressed to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, demanding Tokyo refer the issue to the court.

In the letter, she outlined four major points that need discussions at the court, including whether Japan's comfort women system before and during World War II violated the international laws.

In January, a South Korean court ordered Japan to make reparations of 100 million won ($88,944) each to 12 former comfort women who filed the suit. But Tokyo has rejected to follow the ruling.

Kim Hyun-jung, executive director of Comfort Women Action for Redress & Education (CARE) who accompanied Lee at the press event, said she was promised by the embassy that it would pass the letter to the Japanese government.

US and Korean activists will release an open letter regarding the issue, in time for the summit meeting between the leaders of the US and Japan slated for Friday, said Shin Hee-seok, a researcher at Yonsei University's Institute for Legal Studies, who is helping the victims by bringing the case to the ICJ. (Yonhap)
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