China releases trove of Japanese sex slave records


China has released previously confidential Japanese wartime documents, including some about “comfort women” forced to serve in military brothels during World War II, state media reported.

The publication comes during a fraught period in Japan-China relations. Last week, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. paid about $29 million for the release of a ship seized by China over a dispute that dates back to the 1930s war between the two countries.

The 89 documents released from archives in northern Jilin province include letters written by Japanese soldiers, newspaper articles and military files unearthed in the early 1950s, state media said.

Why they had not been released until now was not immediately clear.

Nationalist politicians in Japan have been urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to water down a 1993 apology to the comfort women, as they are euphemistically called in Japan. These politicians have said there is no evidence of large-scale coercion by the government or military.

After testing the waters for a revision, Abe backed down last month and said Tokyo will not revise the apology, known as the Kono statement.

The Jilin documents include Japanese records on the exploitation of comfort women by troops as well as details of the Nanjing Massacre that began in December 1937.

China and Japan disagree on the number of people killed in the massacre. Some nationalist Japanese politicians have argued that reports about the massacre were exaggerated for propaganda purposes. Many of Japan’s wartime records were destroyed by Japan.

The release coincided with the publication Saturday of over 110,000 previously confidential Japanese government and military documents from war times by China’s Thread Binding Books Publishing House.

History is a live issue between Japan and China.

In a speech in Berlin last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping noted that the atrocities in Nanjing are “still fresh in our memory.” His comments prompted an angry response from Tokyo.

In December, Abe provoked China’s ire when he visited Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where both war dead and Class-A war criminals are honored. Last week, more than 150 lawmakers and two members of Abe’s Cabinet visited Yasukuni.

Territorial disputes also dog the relationship. These are centered on the Senkaku Islands, a string of uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea that the Chinese call Diaoyu and Taiwan calls Tiaoyutai.

However, there are signs of warmth amidst the chill as well.

Last week, Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe visited Beijing, meeting with China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang and former top Chinese diplomat Tang Jiaxuan and passing on a message from Abe that he hoped bilateral ties would improve.

This followed a trip to Japan in early April by Hu Deping, son of late reformist Chinese leader Hu Yaobang. Hu met with several senior statesmen and held a confidential meeting with Abe.

  • Zafar

    Chinese are putty pressure tactics.. there is no sensible way to deal with Chinese..You can never satisfy the communist party who infect the chinese nation with fear psychosis first with Japan then with her neighbours and now Americans…

  • American_Teacher

    In a huge contrast to Germany, Japan is unapologetic about its cruel military past that has caused untold sufferings of people across Asia. It’s outrageous that the Japanese officials and people continue to deny the issue of comfort women and refuse to compensate those victims properly. Instead, they continue to glorify their rapist Imperial Army to this day.

    As an American, I strongly resent American government’s support and protection of Japan. The Japanese have been enjoying free rides at the our expense without giving anything worthwhile in return. They get rich by flooding our market with their products but refuse to open their market for American products.

    The Japanese are ungrateful although Americans have been their sole and true liberators and protectors. It’s the only country who attacked and killed thousands of Americans at Pearl Harbor. We will never forget that important part of our history. It’s time for American government to review our mistakes and make adjustments of our bad policy on Japan.

    • danx3

      if we called a truce and made friends after pearl harbor and two nukes they can do the same…..too much pride on both sides i guess

  • Direwing

    You obviously have never really read or researched Japan’s aggression in China and Korea, have you? Do you really think Imperial Japan would have been stopped otherwise?

  • Nichander

    Having lived in Japan and Germany as a foreigner I can say that you are utterly wrong. The victim-mentality of Japan where they publicly remember only the atomic-bombings is despicable, especially in comparison with the open and public approach of Germany in wartime atrocities in Germany. While I don’t agree with such laws for reasons of freedom of speech, in Germany it is illegal to deny holocaust. In Japan, denial of war crimes seems to be a sport.