Victims' memories of paincreate 'witness to history'

Updated: 2015-12-12 10:46

By CANG WEI(China Daily)

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Memorial dedicated to those who suffered in military brothels

Victims' memories of paincreate 'witness to history'

A visitor takes a look at a photo wall at the site of a former "comfort station", or military brothel, in Liji Alley in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Friday. [LIU JIANHUA / FOR CHINA DAILY]

Thousands of Chinese people have visited the memorial dedicated to the Chinese "comfort women" of World War II, the first of its kind on the Chinese mainland opened to the public earlier this month in Nanjing.

Tang Jiaguo, the adopted son of Lei Guiying, one of the "comfort women" who kept a bottle of powder used as a disinfectant and gave it to the memorial, said that being forced to be a sex slave destroyed his mother's life.

"My mom didn't want to talk about what she had gone through until 2006, when she finally decided to stand up and testify about the Japanese invaders' crimes," said Tang. "She was raped at the age of nine, and became a 'comfort woman' at 13. The past haunted and humiliated her for her whole life."

"The memorial is a witness of history that cannot be denied by Japanese right wingers," Tang said.

Lei, who died in 2007, wrote in her will, "May the tragedy not be repeated. May there be no more wars."

The bottle of disinfectant is one of 1,600 articles and 680 photos exhibited in the memorial. Most of the articles and photos have been donated by the victims or their families.

The memorial is located at the site of the largest former "comfort station", or military brothel, which operated from 1937 until 1945 in what was then the capital of China. It is comprised of eight two-story buildings in Liji Alley and covers more than 3,000 square meters.

Su Zhiliang, director of the Chinese "Comfort Women" Research Center, said that there are about 40 to 50 such comfort stations in Nanjing.

"The number of such comfort women stations in China may have surpassed a thousand," said Su. "In our 20 years of research, we've found plenty of evidence of women forced to be sex slaves of the Japanese army."

According to him, about 200,000 women from China and others from the Korean Peninsula, the Philippines and other countries were forced to be sex slaves for the Japanese army during World War II.

Zhu Chengshan, director of the Research Institute of the Nanjing Massacre by the Japanese Invaders, said that the Japanese army committed many crimes, including the Nanjing Massacre, "comfort women" and germ warfare.

"The opening of the memorial commemorating the suffering of 'comfort women' signifies that Chinese people do not forget the history of being invaded, and that peace should be cherished."