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UPDATED: May 12, 2014 NO. 20 MAY 15, 2014
A Record of History
Newly published documents on Japanese troops' atrocities fill gaps in WWII historical research
By Yu Lintao

REVEALING TRUTH: Researchers meet the press on April 23 when the Jilin Provincial Archives published 89 documents on Japanese troops' wartime atrocities in China (LIN HONG)

CONTACT: Zhang Dejiang (right), Chairman of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee, meets with a delegation of Japanese lawmakers headed by Masahiko Koumura, Vice President of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, in Beijing on May 5. Zhang urged Japanese politicians to face history during the meeting (RAO AIMIN)

Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, called on the Japanese Government to take a correct view of history, reality and the future. Zhang made the plea during a meeting in Beijing with a delegation of Japanese lawmakers led by Masahiko Komura, Vice President of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, on May 5.

"Remembering history is not about nursing hatred, only that human kind should have the ability to reflect on past mistakes," Yin said.

State crime

According to the newly released documents, forcing women into sex slavery and setting up comfort stations in Asian countries were official actions undertaken by the Japanese army during WWII.

The Jilin Provincial Archives has published 25 files about "comfort women"—sex slaves kept for Japanese soldiers. They tell in detail how "comfort stations" were operated by Japanese troops in northeast and central China, as well as in Indonesia.

One file records that 532,000 yen was transferred by the central bank of the Manchurian regime from November 1944 to March 1945 for comfort women for a military branch, under an account described as "public spending for military use." The records show that the expenditure was approved by the Kwantung Army.

Su Zhiliang, a professor at Shanghai Normal University, who has studied the comfort women issue for more than 20 years, said that the files, along with the large amount of money, once again prove that the sex slavery system was enforced officially, rather than being a private commercial operation as has been claimed by Japan's right-wing politicians. "Wherever there were Japanese troops, there were comfort stations. The stations appeared in at least 20 to 30 counties across northeast China," Su said.

The archives reveal conditions at comfort stations, including the number of comfort women needed to serve the soldiers and details of gruesome rapes. One document shows that the Japanese army allocated women proportionally. From February 1 to 10, 1938, there was one comfort women for every 200 soldiers in Xiaguan District in Nanjing. After February 20, 11 more comfort women were added. In Zhenjiang, a city near Nanjing, 8,929 Japanese soldiers visited the comfort stations there in only 10 days, according to the same document.

In one issue of the Japanese army's Postal Review Monthly published in 1941, a letter written by a Japanese soldier named Takeda Bunirou stationed in Heihe, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, was recorded. He wrote that a comfort station was open in a corner of the camp of the local Japanese army. All 20 of the comfort women were from Korea and they were forced to come to China under Japan's National General Mobilization Act while Korea was still under occupation by the Japanese, according to the soldier.

"Japan's system of sex slavery during WWII was unprecedented," Su said. "However, all the victims' claims for compensation were rejected by Japanese authorities even though international laws dictate that war crimes are not subject to time constraints."

Human experimentation

According to sources with the Jilin Provincial Archives, there are up to 200 files in the archives that document the transfer of prisoners to the notorious Unit 731, where human experimentation with biological and chemical weapons were carried out.

Unit 731 was a top-secret biological and chemical warfare research base established in Harbin of Heilongjiang in 1933, serving as the nerve center of Japan's biological warfare in China and Southeast Asia during WWII.

The documents show in detail that Unit 731 used human beings for experiments when developing biological weapons. More than 100 such experiments on live humans were carried out including those on the effects of frostbite, vivisection, anthrax and syphilis.

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