Rites held to honor A-bombed Chinese prisoners

Kyodo

A memorial ceremony to commemorate Chinese who were imprisoned in Nagasaki Prefecture on spying charges during the war and who later died during the U.S. atomic bombing in August 1945 was held Sunday at Nagasaki’s Peace Park.

At the ceremony, a new monument bearing a plaque explaining how about 40,000 Chinese were forcibly brought to Japan during the war to make up for a nationwide labor shortage was unveiled.

Of those people, about 1,000 were forced to work in mines in Nagasaki, the plaque explains in Japanese, Chinese and English.

In July 2008, a separate monument was erected by Chinese victims who were brought to Japan as forced laborers. But many people, mainly Chinese tourists, have requested a new monument offering an “easier explanation” about what happened, prompting a citizens’ group to raise about ¥500,000 for the new one.

“We would like to make the (monument) a place where Japan offers apologies for what it did during the war,” Hitoshi Motoshima, 91, head of the citizens’ group and a former city mayor, said during the ceremony.

Lee Wenliang, consul general at the Chinese Consulate General in Nagasaki, said, “We’d like to express gratitude on behalf of the bereaved families.”

When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, 33 Chinese were in Urakami prison on charges that included spying. Thirty-two died as a result of the bombing and the sole survivor died during interrogation.