Museum to 'comfort women' opens in Shanghai

By Xiao Zhen and Hui Linin Shanghai and Qi Wen in Guangzhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-07 06:50

SHANGHAI: The country's first-ever museum dedicated to "comfort women" opened to the public on Friday at Shanghai Normal University.

The archive, which tells the stories of the sex slaves kept by Japanese soldiers during World War II, was expected to greet some 300 visitors a day on its opening weekend.

Guests of honor on Friday were three former comfort women from Shanxi and Hainan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. They attended the opening ceremony and each delivered a speech recounting their ordeals. Two consuls from the Japanese consulate-general in Shanghai also visited on Friday.

As well as hearing the women's accounts, visitors were able to look at 48 display boards and 80 objects relating to the period.

"The wooden sculptures of Mount Fuji taken from the Daiichi Salon in Shanghai, the world's first comfort station set up by the Japanese, is one of the most valuable items on display," Su Zhiliang, director of the Chinese Comfort Women's Research Center at Shanghai Normal University and founder of the museum, said.

Other exhibits include recordings and written accounts by comfort women; the disinfectants Lei Guiying took with her when she fled the brothel in Nanjing where she was forced to work; boxes of condoms; and pictures of Japanese soldiers.

The museum is the third of its kind in the world. The others are in Tokyo and Seoul.

According to Su's research, there were about 200,000 comfort women in China, but just 47, who have publicly declared it, are still alive.

One of the three comfort women at the opening ceremony, 78-year-old Wan Aihua from Shanxi Province, said: "I have the courage to stand up as the first to confess I was a comfort woman, because I want to ask for compensation on behalf of myself and all my sisters."

Nanjing documentary

The documentary film Nanking had its premiere in Guangzhou on Thursday.

"Its American director Bill Guttentag attended the premiere and we had a full house," Yang Weibing, director of the Guangzhou-based Feiyang Cinema, said.

The movie has been on show in cinemas throughout Guangzhou, in most cases being shown five times a day.

"The audience at the premiere was full of passion," Wu Jiemin, an office worker who saw the screening, said. She said it was well balanced and that it was good that the world would hear the story of the tragic event.

(China Daily 07/07/2007 page2)

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