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Razing of 'comfort women' house criticized
By Bao Xinyan and Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-22 06:30

NANJING: The planned demolition of a building which housed enforced comfort women has aroused strong opposition from experts and residents.

"We hope the sites of rape camps will be preserved, and our descendants can remember the past tragedy of Japan's invasion," said local citizen Xu Wen.

No 2 Lijixiang in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, site of the Dongyun Rape Camp during War of Resistance against Japan, has fallen into disrepair and demolition may begin before the end of the month.

In 2003, the visit to the site by Pak Yong-sim, an 82-year-old woman from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea who once served as one of Japanese military sexual slaves, brought the forgotten building back into the public eye.

The two-storey house in fading yellow, with 30 small rooms on each floor, is where Pak was forced to suffer as a comfort woman for four years from the age of 17.

Her visit two years ago gave the place historic significance and Dongyun became the only rape camp of its kind to be confirmed by a living former inmate.

However, the largest and most well-preserved military brothel in Asia is now facing demolition to make way for commercial construction.

"Lijixiang is one of the best selling real estate areas in Nanjing," said Xiao Fan, a former resident of the district.

Apartments here are sold at 12,000 yuan (US$1,440) per square metre, while the average price in the city is 6,000 Yuan (US$720).

Xiao has been living in the district for 20 years, but was forced to move out because of the government's demolition plan.

Like his house, No 2 Lijixiang has been listed among the buildings to be pulled down since plans were approved in 2003.

Jing Shenghong, a professor at Nanjing Normal University who has spent years studying the anti-Japanese war, found that during the Japanese invasion between 1937 and 1945, more than 40 military brothels were built in Nanjing.

According to Jing, a handbook entitled Nanjing Guideline, which was composed and published by the Japanese in Nanjing in 1938, listed the names and locations of 39 rape camps in the city.

The book is now kept by the Nanjing Archive Preservation Bureau.

According to Jing's research, Japanese comfort women were expected to receive 20 soldiers per day, while for Korean and Chinese women, the numbers were 40 or 80.

(China Daily 04/22/2005 page3)

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