• Kyodo

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A Chinese man forcibly brought to Japan during World War II to work at a coal mine in Kuriyama, Hokkaido, attended a memorial service there Monday for Chinese laborers who died at the mine.

On his first visit to Hokkaido in 61 years, Feng Yiping, 75, from Guangzhou in southern China, met Sunday with Toshikazu Togashi, 73, the grandson of the coal mine manager at the time. Togashi and Feng had exchanged letters, resulting in Togashi inviting Feng to visit Kuriyama.

Feng was brought to Japan from Shanghai in 1944 at the age of 13 and was the youngest of the 294 Chinese workers at the mine.

Togashi, who lives in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, was informed that Feng donated his memoirs on his wartime experiences to a war memorial hall in Shanghai last year, and he became convinced that Feng was the boy who had worked at the mine during the war, he said.

Responding to Togashi’s letter inviting him to attend the memorial service, Feng wrote, “It’s a miracle. I would love to come.”

In his letters, Feng also wrote that a supervisor at the mine beat him, that he tried to commit suicide, and that some of his fellow workers died after being hit on the head with a hammer.

However, in their exchange of letters and photos of their grandchildren, the two shared the view that they should strive to build peace for future generations.

“I hope his visit will make Japanese people aware of the issue of forced labor during the war,” Togashi said.

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