WWII ‘Comfort Women’ Call Out|Japan, Others for War Crimes

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Hee Nam You was 15 years old when a policeman snatched her off the street of her Korean hometown in 1943 and shipped her to a faraway land, where she was forced to have sex with Japanese soldiers five to 30 times each day, according to a federal class action filed Monday.
     You and her co-plaintiff, Kyng Soon Kim, are two of over 200,000 young women abducted and forced to serve as comfort women for the pleasure of Japanese soldiers during World War II, according to the 71-page complaint.
     The women accuse a litany of actors including the nation of Japan, the Japanese prime minister and corporations that supplied financial and material support to the empire during the war of committing or aiding and abetting the perpetration of crimes against humanity.
     Threatened with beatings and execution, You was sent to a military base in Japan where she spent nearly two years in a tiny, three-by-five-foot cubicle performing sex acts seven days a week and 365 days a year, regardless of her physical or emotional condition, the lawsuit says.
     “The women were denied proper medical attention, shelter and nutrition,” the complaint states. “Even when they got sick, the rape did not stop even for a day.”
     Kim was 18 years old when she was abducted in Korea and sent to comfort stations in Japanese-occupied areas around Asia and the Pacific, the complaint claims.
     Kim, who was born in 1926, and You, who was born in 1928, both reside in Korea today and are approaching 90 years of age.
     Only 25 to 35 percent of sex slaves survived the war. Those who did suffered severe health problems including permanent damage to their reproductive organs from sexual abuse and sexually transmitted diseases, the women say.
     All the actors in this horrifying wartime tale should have been prosecuted as the Nazis were for war crimes or for aiding and abetting war crimes, the women say.
     You and Kim blame Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Toyota Motor Company, Mitsubishi Group, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha and their American subsidiaries for realizing huge profits by providing the transportation that hauled the young women away like objects to serve as sex slaves.
     Individual defendants include Japanese Prime Minister Shizno Abe, heir to the assets of defendant Nobuke Kishi, who served as minister of munitions for the Japanese Empire during the war, and former Japanese Emperor Hirohito along with his heir, Akihito.
     The women also point fingers at Hitachi, Ltd., Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, Mitsui Group, Okamoto Industries and their subsidiaries for providing financial and material support that aided the perpetrators of the alleged crimes against humanity.
     Additionally, the complaint singles out Japan’s largest media company, Sankei Shimbun, Co., Ltd., for making “false arguments” that wartime comfort women were “voluntary prostitutes” that exchanged sex for money.
     The complaint accuses both Sankei Shimbun and Abe of defaming the plaintiff class by labeling them “voluntary prostitutes.”
     In 2012, Abe signed an advertisement in a New Jersey newspaper stating the comfort women were “simply part of the licensed prostitution system of the day,” the complaint states.
     The lawsuit alleges violations of international law, including conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; and command responsibility, which holds superior officers responsible for the actions of subordinates.
     You and Kim also claim some defendants aided and abetted those crimes, defamed the plaintiff class, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, fraudulently concealed facts and violated the U.S. federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by engaging in a kidnapping enterprise.
     The women seek declarations that the Japanese government violated U.S. and international laws and that wartime defendants conspired to commit or aided in committing crimes against humanity. They also seek a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from making false statements that defame former comfort women.
     You and Kim want $10 million per plaintiff in compensatory damages and $10 million per plaintiff in exemplary and punitive damages.
     The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Hyung Jin Kim, based in San Francisco and Seoul, South Korea.
     Kim and the Japanese government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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