A MEMORIAL for “comfort women” during World War II opened to the public in east China’s Jiangsu Province on December 2, 2015.
It is the first in China’s mainland dedicated to the group, and was identified by victims as a military brothel run by the invading Japanese more than 70 years ago.
The memorial in Nanjing, Jiangsu’s capital, covers more than 3,000 square meters and comprises eight two-story buildings.
The Japanese took the city, then China’s capital, on December 13, 1937, where they killed 300,000 people within six weeks in what was later dubbed the Nanjing Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking.
The brothel is the largest former “comfort station” still standing.
An estimated 200,000 women from China and many others from the Korean Peninsula, the Philippines, Indonesia and some other countries, euphemistically known as “comfort women,” were forced into sexual servitude by Japanese troops.
In Nanjing alone, there were more than 40 military brothels.
In the courtyard of the memorial, there are sculptures of three “comfort women,” including one who is pregnant.
That woman was Pak Yong-sim from Korea. Once living in Room 19 of building No. 2, Pak revisited the site on November 21, 2003. She died in 2012.
More than 1,600 artefacts and 680 photos are on display, including potassium permanganate given to the memorial by late victim Lei Guiying. The powder was used in the brothel for disinfection..
“My mom was raped at the age of 9, and became a ‘comfort woman” at 13,” said Tang Jiaguo, Lei’s adopted son. “She didn’t want to talk about her past until 2006, when she testified for the crime of Japanese.”
Lei died in 2007. In her will she wrote, “May the tragedy not be repeated. May there be no more wars.”
“For a long time, the history of ‘comfort women’ was buried,” said Su Zhiliang, a professor at Shanghai Normal University.
“In recent years, the Japanese made repeated attempts to tamper with history. The move angered many whose countries had been plagued by the ‘comfort woman’ system. That is why countries like China research and protect the history.”
Yun Ju-Keyng from South Korea, president of the history museum Independence Hall of Korea, was at yesterday’s opening ceremony.
“This year marks the 70th anniversary of China’s victory over Japanese invaders, and also independence of the South Korea,” she said. “Denial of the Japanese government over the past crimes hurt the victims, who are elderly now, a second time. China and South Korea should join hands in exposing the atrocities of the Japanese imperial army, so former ‘comfort women’ can live to see the offenders apologize.”