SEOUL—A South Korean court ruled that Japan should compensate a dozen Korean women who were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers during World War II, exacerbating already strained ties between the two U.S. allies.
The Seoul central district court on Friday said Tokyo should pay the plaintiffs around $90,000 each. Japan immediately rejected the ruling, saying the issue was settled in a 1965 treaty that normalized relations and an agreement in 2015 that provided financial support for the so-called comfort women.
“This is completely unacceptable,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said. “I strongly urge the South Korean government to take measures to correct this violation of international law.”
Japan’s foreign ministry summoned the South Korean ambassador in Tokyo to protest.
The ruling puts President-elect Joe Biden in an awkward position as his administration seeks to build a broad alliance of allies, said Jin Chang-soo, a Japan expert at the Sejong Institute, a think tank near Seoul.