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WWII comfort station to be protected as relics
By Xing Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-11 22:07

A building in Jiangsu Province where sex slaves of World War II Japanese soldiers were stationed should be protected, says a cultural relics expert.

Remains like the comfort station in Nanjing, capital of the East China province, have historical and cultural value, said an expert with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage who insisted on anonymity.

Last week, news reports surfaced that the station could be demolished.

A comfort station in East China's Nanjing, where sex slaves of World War II Japanese troops were once stationed, stands on the Liji Lane. News reports said the station, the largest and best preserved in Asia, could be demolished, raising concern among cultural relic experts. [newsphoto]

The comfort station, located on No 2 Liji Lane of Nanjing, was identified by Pak Yong-sim, a surviving "comfort woman" last November as the place she lived while being held as a sex slave by Japanese soldiers.

The building is also considered one of the largest and best preserved in Asia.

The Nanjing municipal government has denied reports of the imminent demolition, but spokeswoman Xu Ning said the government has not come out with a specific plan to protect the remains.

"Such remains should be named as a site protected for their historical and cultural value, and be put under legal protection," said the cultural relics expert.

According to the Law on Protection of Cultural Relics, provincial and county departments can suggest specific buildings for the government to designate as historical and cultural sites.

The comfort station has not been identified as either.

The expert said there are nearly 10,000 provincial level historical and cultural sites and less than 100,000 county-level sites.

"Excluding such remains from the list can only prove one thing -- that the local government has not attached importance to the historical event of comfort women," he said.

The lot where the comfort station remains are was listed by the municipal government as part of its reconstruction plan of Nanjing's old downtown, according to a report by China News Agency.

The report quoted Ju Tao, a senior Nanjing official, who said the reconstruction plan was made for the sake of people's safety, improving their living conditions and renewing the city's look as well.

Ju also stressed that Nanjing has always attached great importance to historical and cultural heritage, such as protection on the remains of the Nanjing massacre (1937-38) in the War of Resistance against Japan (1937-45).

At present, the municipal government has decided to give up on the demolition plan.

But Xu Ning, the spokeswoman for the municipal government, said the decision to move residents out of the lot will not be changed.

So far, most of the residents have moved out of the building, and the rest will have to move out before July 6.

Despite the explanation, the government's motivation was put in doubt after a nearby plot went for a record 201 million yuan (US$24.2 million) during a 2002 bidding.

Jing Shenghong, a professor with Nanjing Normal University, told Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post that he and other researchers appealed to local cultural relics departments a couple of times to have the remains designated as significant sites.

Most of the 40 comfort stations in old Nanjing have been destroyed, he said.

Four experts have made similar suggestions to the government at a meeting aiming to judge the value of the remains in April.

But none of the suggestions have been adopted.

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