Massacre survivors vow to bring Japan to int'l court
www.chinaview.cn 2006-05-19 20:10:16
SHENYANG, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Survivors of the Pingdingshan Massacre, in which more than 3,000 Chinese civilians were slaughtered by Japanese soldiers in 1932, say they will bring the Japanese government to international court after their 10-year-long lawsuit for an apology and compensation was rejected by the Japanese Supreme Court.
"We will continue the lawsuit even if we have to go to the international court," said Yang Baoshan, and 83-year-old survivor and spokesperson for the Pingdingshan Massacre claimants.
Three survivors including Yang Baoshan launched their original lawsuit in 1996, demanding the Japanese government admit the crime and apologize and pay survivors compensate of 20 million yen (about 182,000 U.S. dollars).
The Japanese Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday the lawsuit although it acknowledged there was a massacre. It was the third Japanese court to reject the same lawsuit.
The Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court ruled against the plaintiffs in 2002 and 2005. All three courts said that the Japanese government cannot be sued for acts committed prior to the State Compensation Law which was enacted in 1947.
A VILLAGE WAS WIPED OUT
The Pingdingshan massacre is seen as one of the most despicable crimes of World War Two. More than 3,000 women, children and elderly of Pingdingshan Village near Fushun city in northeast China's Liaoning Province, were killed by invading Japanese soldiers on September 16, 1932. The villagers were murdered just aday after the Mid-Autumn Festival which celebrates the harvest moon and for centuries has been a time for family re-unions in China.
"The Japanese soldiers told us they were going to take our picture and gathered us in a group. But under the black cloth they didn't have cameras, they had machine guns. The soldiers even bayoneted bodies to ensure the villagers were dead," said Yang Yufen, a 83-year-old survivor, who was just nine-years-old.
"I survived because my parents shielded me with their bodies. Eighteen members of my family were massacred," said Yang Yufen.
It's estimated that 20 to 30 villagers survived the massacre.
The Japanese soldiers burned and buried all the bodies the day after they shot them. They also burned down 800 houses in the village, wiping it off the face of the earth.
Yang Baoshan, the elderly plaintiff, was just 11 years old whenhe lost his parents in the massacre. He was shot twice and still remembers that there were six machine guns firing at the villagers.
Since then he has never been able to sleep on the on the Mid Autumn Festival.
Before the lawsuit Japan would not even acknowledge the massacre had occurred.
The Tokyo District Court heard the lawsuit the first time in March 1997. Mo Desheng was 75 when he traveled to Japan to appear in court and accuse the Japanese of their crime.
In its ruling in June 2002 the Tokyo District Court finally acknowledged that there was a massacre. Yet it rejected the need for an apology and the compensation claims.
The case next went to the Tokyo High Court on appeal.
Mo Desheng died 10 days after the Tokyo High Court ruling in May 2005 upheld the lower court's ruling.
Only six survivors of the tragedy are still alive. The youngest is 73 years old, while the most elderly is 92.
The lawsuit can now only continue in Japanese courts if other plaintiffs come forward, lawyers said. The survivors and their lawyers are discussing what action they might take next.
The lawsuit has at least raised awareness of the terrible truth with the Japanese public, said Ooe Kyoko, a Japanese lawyer for the plaintiffs. There are thousands of web pages on the Pingdingshan Massacre in Japan.
JAPAN SHOULD APOLOGIZE: EXPERT
As a signatory to international laws, the Japanese government should own up to its responsibilities, said Fu Bo, head of Fushun Academy of Social Sciences and leader of the Supporting Association for the Pingdingshan Massacre Survivors.
Fu said, the Japanese courts are using the Compensation Law as an excuse to avoid providing atonement to the survivors of the massacre.
Japanese courts have made similar rulings in dismissing similarlawsuits against the brutal acts committed by Japanese soldiers inAsian countries.
"We do not sue for money. I'll give up the compensation claim but the Japanese government must apologize or else the dead will not rest in peace," said Yang Baoshan. Enditem
Editor: Mu Xuequan
- Japan's supreme court rejects Chinese damages lawsuits for massacre