CHINA / Regional

Hainan Lawyers' group to help ex-'comfort women'
Updated: 2006-03-23 14:35

A local lawyer's association promised on Wednesday to fully support a legal defence team as it continues to investigate the plight of eight local "comfort women" who were turned into sex-slaves and forced to service invading Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Liao Xiangqi, vice-president of the Hainan Lawyer Association, said the association will do its best to assist the defence team which consists of one Chinese and three Japanese volunteer attorneys. They are helping the women sue the Japanese government for compensation. The local lawyer's association's first task is to find a local lawyer who can speak the women's ethnic language.

"Although I don't have the specific date when the defence team will come to Hainan next," Liao told Xinhua, "they will come back again to find more evidence and an ethnic language-speaking local lawyer and an interpreter will be very helpful."

The eight elder women began their suit against the Japanese government at a Tokyo district court on July 16, 2001. They're asking the government to make an official apology and provide economic and spiritual compensation. They were forced to have sex with Japanese soldiers during the Japanese invasion of China in the World War II. The court closed hearings on March 22 and will announce an initial verdict in the case in three months.

All of the eight women, most of whom are in their 80s are from the Li minority and do not speak Mandarin. Living in two villages on the China's southernmost island, they are among the last survivors of many Chinese women on the island who were forced to be sex slaves during the Japanese soldier's occupation.

The defence team has been to Hainan for several times since 1996 to visit the comfort women and collect evidence. It also paid to costs for three of the comfort women, Huang Youliang, Lin Yajinand Chen Yabian to travel to Japan an provide their testimony in court.

Japan's litigation practices will allow the defence team to provide further evidence related to the case, Liao said, however the first decision of the court will be announced in about three months.

The Hainan comfort women's defence team are members of the Chinese war victims defense team, a larger group consisting of more than 300 lawyers from China and Japan. The group has voluntarily helped Chinese war victims with lawsuit since 1995. Enditem