Subject: [cwj 131] Nanjing survivor files libel suit against Japanese authors
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 10:27:16 -0800
Seq: 131

Tuesday, November 28 4:45 PM SGT 

Nanjing survivor files libel suit against Japanese authors

BEIJING, Nov 28 (AFP) - 

A 71-year-old Chinese survivor of the 1937 Rape of Nanjing has filed a
libel suit against two Japanese authors and their publishing house for
denying the massacre ever took place.

The case is different from previous Chinese suits because it does not
directly target those held responsible for war crimes, but rather Japanese
apologists downplaying or denying atrocities committed during World War II.

"It is the first time a historical witness is filing a libel suit at a
Chinese court against members of Japan's extreme right," the China
Foundation for Human Rights Development, a state-controlled agency which is
supporting the suit, said in a press release.

Xia Shuqin was a girl of eight when in the opening stages of World War II
in Asia imperial Japanese troops entered Nanjing, then China's capital, and
slaughtered her entire family, sparing only her and a younger sister.

Enraged by two recent Japanese books questioning the massacre, she has
filed a suit with the Nanjing Intermediate People's Court and is waiting
for the court's decision on when to start the case.

The two books are "A Thorough Examination of the Nanjing Massacre" written
by Shudo Higashinakano, a professor of Japanese thought at Tokyo's private
Asia University, and "Big Questions on the Nanjing Massacre" by Toshio

Chinese historians claim Xia's family were among 300,000 who perished
during the weeks when Japanese soldiers, convinced they had won the war
against China, were let loose on the city.

Allied trials of Japanese war criminals after 1945 estimated around 200,000
people died during the horrific incident, which for many Chinese stands as
the culmination of half a century of Japanese imperialism.

It was unclear what compensation Xia was asking from the Japanese
defendants, although she said the publication of the books had caused great
psychological stress to her in her dotage.

"The suit has been filed to protect historical truth and defend human
rights," the Chinese human rights foundation said in its statement.

The books that are the focus of the suit have been published by Tokyo-based
Tendensha Co. Ltd., which previously has put out other titles such as
"There Was No Forced Enslavement of Comfort Women" and "How Japan Was Made
an Invader."

Tendensha President Hiroaki Aizawa said the Nanjing books were based on
careful study of literary material.

"At the time (of the massacre), there were not 300,000 people in Nanjing,"
he told AFP. "How then could (the Japanese Imperial Army) kill 300,000?"

He said China is trying to maintain superiority in its diplomatic dealings
with Japan, deliberately turning the Nanjing incident into a bargaining chip.

"China is just putting on a show. It's no big deal," he said.

Japanese historians have been denying or downplaying Japanese war-time
atrocities for years, but no Chinese victims have so far tried libel suits,
simply because they did not know enough about their legal rights.

"In the past, the victims weren't even aware they could file libel suits,"
said Zhu Chengshan, director of the Memorial Hall of Victims of the Nanjing

"It was only after the appearance of the two books that we looked into the
matter and realized we could file over libel," he said.

Investigations show there are still more than 1,000 survivors of the
massacre left in Nanjing, he said.

But lawyers said the case might not open a floodgate of similar cases, even
if successful.

"It's hard to say if there will be other cases like this in the future,"
said Gu Yongzhong, a lawyer representing Xia. "This suit has been filed by
Xia in her personal capacity."

There are at least 10 cases of Chinese war victims seeking compensation in
Tokyo courts, including several cases dealing with "comfort women" or women
forced into sex slavery, but few are making any progress.

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