TOKYO (AP) — A former journalist who wrote stories about women forced into sex slavery by Japan before and during World War II filed a defamation suit Friday against a publisher and a scholar who accused him of fabricating the issue.
Takashi Uemura said their criticisms triggered threats against him, his families and employer, a college in northern Japan. He wrote only two stories on the subject, including one for the Asahi newspaper in the early 1990s based on the account of a South Korean victim.
Uemura's story was the first published interview with the first woman who came forward with her experiences, Kim Hak-soon.
The lawsuit says Uemura was defamed by a magazine article published in February 2014 by Bungeishunju Ltd., and Tsutomu Nishioka, a Tokyo Christian University professor of Korean studies.
The journalist wants Nishioka's article removed from the Internet, an apology published in the magazine, and 16.5 million yen ($138,700) in compensation for the damage he suffered from the defamation and subsequent threats.
Last August, the left-leaning Asahi acknowledged that its stories in the 1980s and 1990s quoted a wartime labor official who fabricated accounts about forcing Korean women to provide sex to soldiers during the war.
Uemura did not write stories quoting that official, Seiji Yoshida.
Historians say tens of thousands of women, including Japanese, Koreans and others from around Asia, were sent to frontline military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during the war.
A 1993 government investigation concluded many of the women were recruited against their will. That investigation found no proof in existing official documents, however, and conservatives have cited that in arguing the women were not coerced.
The Yomiuri newspaper, a right-leaning paper with Japan's largest circulation, apologized last month for calling the women "sex slaves" in some articles in its English-language publication. The euphemistic "comfort women" phrase is commonly used in Japan.