Memorials: Korean Comfort Women; Unit 731; China Archive publishes Japanese confessions

House of Sharing, a Korean living memorial with nine “comfort women” survivors

“Yi Ok-seon is a frail old lady with a walking frame who has difficulty speaking. But her eyes, when you meet them, are still sharp.  She says she was 15 when a Korean and a Japanese man forcibly took her to north-west China, then under Japanese control… Once in China, she says she was forced into sexual slavery for three years, in “comfort stations” set up by the Japanese military to service its troops.  She shows me old scars on her arms and legs – from being stabbed, she says.

“I felt really violated, being tricked and taken like that as a young teenager,” she says. “It was like a slaughter house there – not for animals, but for humans. Outrageous things were done.” A volunteer at the house tells me later that she sustained other injuries from that time, preventing her from bearing her own children.”

“We’re all very old. We’re dying each year, one by one. Historically speaking the war might have stopped, but for us it’s still going on, it never ended. We want the Japanese Emperor to come here, kneel before us and apologise sincerely. I think the Japanese are just waiting for us to die.”

(Lucy Williamson. Comfort Women: South Korea’s Survivors of Japanese Brothels, British Broadcasting Co., May 29, 2013; Brooks. The History of ‘Comfort Women’: A WWII Tragedy We Can’t Forget, Huffington Post, 2013)

April 2014: China submitted Unit 731 site for designation on UNESCO World Heritage List
More than 6,300 items have been collected in a drive to find evidence of the activities of Japan’s notorious Unit 731 during World War II  for a future museum.  Researchers expanded the scope of their search to all regions where Unit 731 was active. Unit 731 Crimes Exhibition Hall in Harbin has gathered 1,740 new pieces of evidence in the nationwide efforts in the past two years.

“These items represent the whole operation process of Unit 731 in research, experimentation, creation of biochemical weapons and germ warfare attacks. At least 3,000 people were killed in experiments on humans at Unit 731. Civilians and prisoners of war from China, the former Soviet Union, the Korean Peninsula and Mongolia all perished at the hands of the Japanese. The retreating Japanese invaders blew up the base when the Soviet Union army took Harbin in 1945. The exhibition hall receives more than 300,000 visitors, about 10 percent of whom are foreigners, each year.” (China Museum amasses Unit 731 evidence)

In 2014, China’s State Archive Administration (SAA) announced the release of the full texts of confessions by 45 Japanese war criminals on. One is released online every day. About 1,100 Japanese war criminals were held in custody in China between 1950 and 1956, and 45 stood military trials at the Supreme People’s Court. It has been publishing one confession a day since July 3, 2014 — there have been 45 confessions by Japanese war criminal. Tsutomu Nagashima, a military commander, who is said to have ordered his troops to kill nearly 1,000 civilians between April 1942 and July 1945, stated in his confession:

“Besides shooting, other extremely cruel killing methods such as bayoneting, hacking, beheading, exploding, burning, hanging and sending to gas chamber were also used during the battles” (South China Morning Post, 2014; short videoInternational Business Times 2014).

Visitors’ to the much expanded Harbin museum exhibiting Unit 731 War Crimes comments:

“it was an absolute eye opener, we are all very aware of the holocaust in Europe and are not so aware of what was happening in China during WW2. An absolute education and a must visit if you are in the area. It explains a lot about current relationships in the Far East.”

“As a student of History I wonder how the free world would punish and condem the Axis powers of war crime and ignore what the Japanese did to the people of China. I now know that the United States Government ignored what took place in China.What was done here was used to faclitate my own governments advance in inhuman treatment of our fellow humans in the world. We as Americans are as guilty as those that built and used the concentration camps. I am ashamed.”