A group of former "comfort women" in South Korea appealed Thursday a local court ruling that dismissed their damages lawsuit against the Japanese government over their treatment at Japanese military brothels during World War II, their lawyers said.
In dismissing the suit, the April 21 ruling at the Seoul Central District Court applied sovereign immunity to the case -- a concept under international law that a state is immune from the jurisdiction of a court in a foreign country -- and determined South Korea has no jurisdiction over the case.
The lawyers said in a statement released Thursday that the plaintiffs made the appeal as the ruling blocked their right to pursue compensation over Japan's inhumane wrongdoings.
Lee Yong Soo, a 92-year-old former comfort woman and one of the 20 plaintiffs in the latest case, criticized the ruling and said, "We expect justice and human rights will prevail" in the appeal trial.
In another case in January, the same court but a different panel of judges made a contrary ruling, ordering the Japanese government to compensate 12 former comfort women, including those who have died since filing the suit.
The January ruling was a blow to Japan-South Korea ties, which had already sunk to their lowest level in decades after a series of South Korean top court rulings in late 2018 that ordered compensation from Japanese firms for wartime forced labor.
Japan has taken the position that all claims related to its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula were settled under a 1965 bilateral agreement that provided South Korea with financial aid with the understanding the compensation issue was settled "completely and finally."
Lee has also called on the Japanese and South Korean governments to have the comfort women issue resolved at the International Court of Justice.