Treaty of Nanking

World's third archive on wartime sex slaves opens in Shanghai

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 July, 2007, 12:00am

After more than a decade of research and preparation, the world's third 'comfort women' archive has opened in Shanghai to promote public awareness of wartime sexual abuse.

The museum, at Shanghai Normal University, opened on Thursday and houses historical files, artefacts and video recordings of some of the estimated 200,000 Chinese women forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military during the second world war. The other archives are in Seoul and Tokyo.

Most of the Shanghai museum's materials were collected over the past 14 years by Su Zhiliang , a history professor.

He said 47 of the sex slaves still alive on the mainland and in contact with the museum were willing to publicly reveal their identities. 'Most of those old people are ill and live in poverty in rural areas. Many don't have any children because of their experience during the war. The people living in their villages treat them okay. And the discrimination and negligence from outside the community is improving.'

Professor Su said the museum's opening, timed to mark the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Sino-Japanese war, was a way to remind the public to pay more attention to these war victims.

Among the more than 120 visitors to the museum yesterday was Ye Xiuyang , 66. 'I heard about it from the newspaper. I feel very heavy in my heart after seeing those pictures and words. The museum is necessary to let more young people understand that period of history,' Mr Ye said.

The exhibits made a similar impact on Zhou Xiaoxiao , a student at Shanghai Normal University.

'It is outrageous that the Japanese government declines to recognise the invasion and atrocities their soldiers committed in China,' Ms Zhou said.

American researcher Julia Gordon said the history of the wartime sex slaves was something people in other countries should know about.

Japan's consul-general in Shanghai, Chiharu Tsuruoka, visited the archive but refused to comment. Professor Su said: 'The consul asked me what the Chinese government's attitude was towards those former sex slaves.'

Professor Su also heads the Chinese Comfort Women Research Centre, which sends 200 yuan each month to the 47 former sex slaves living in 22 provinces and municipalities.

There was no mainland government department in charge of identifying or supporting sex slaves, but 'comfort women' in Taiwan could qualify for a monthly subsidy, Professor Su said.